John 17:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 2:8
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.
What are the important things in our lives? Is there one thing we would give our very lives for? What is so vitally important in our lives that we can’t keep it just for ourselves? What do we possess that is so valuable that we have to share with everyone?
What is it? Is it your home? Is it the money you have sitting in your certificates of deposit? Is it the food you have stored in your pantry? Or is it something that no one can see?
Here we are sitting in our comfortable padded pews. Jeremiah is in jail, the rich man is in torment in Hades, Lazarus is resting in the bosom of Abraham, and Timothy is being told to live a life of rich simplicity. And we are being asked, what do we possess that is of the greatest value to us.
Whenever I ask myself these questions I always come back to a question I’ve asked for a long time, “Why am I here? What purpose does God have for me being here?”
Why do you think we’re here? What is your purpose for living? I don’t believe that we are all here to gain more possessions or great wealth. I don’t believe that we’re all here to raise families and work at jobs that pay us a good wage.
I have quite a few questions today. If you have answered the question why we’re here then let me ask you another. What is you’re greatest hope? Or this, “In what do you place all your trust?”
Have you placed all your trust in your financial investments? Or have you put all your trust in real estate? Or have you placed your trust in something that is intangible?
What are the lessons to be learned from today’s scriptures? Why is Jeremiah buying land when he’s been telling everyone in Jerusalem that someone from the north is going to defeat their armies and take everyone into captivity?
Could it be that God has told him that as bad as things are going to get it won’t stay that way forever. Someday it will all get better and they will be able to come home again. At least some of them will be able to come home.
He bought the land because God told him that he should do that. Not because it was a good time to buy land because the market was depressed. No, he was to buy the land because it gave him hope for an end to God’s punishment. He trusted in what God told him.
The Message from the epistle is that a devout life will bring us wealth but not the wealth that the world desires. The writer is saying that a life of rich simplicity being ourselves before God will bring us rewards beyond anything we can imagine.
This wealth doesn’t come easily. Timothy is told that he needs to run hard and fast in the faith and seize the eternal life he was called to. Anytime the words run and seize are used I just know there’s some strenuous physical activity involved.
So, what are we to do and how do we do it? That’s the real question isn’t it? Well, we know that we can’t do it like the world around us would have us do it. We know that we have to change our lives. We have to repent.
And once we do we have to spend time with God. We have to allow Him to become an intimate part of our lives. Once we do that we find that there is more we are compelled to do. We discover that we can’t keep quiet about what God has done and is doing in our life.
Our lives have changed. We act different. We talk different. Our attitude about everything isn’t like it used to be. Without realizing it we have become evangelists. We’ve started to evangelive.
Yes, you heard that right, evangelive. We have started to evangelize just by changing how we act and talk when we are out in the community. And people notice that. And they want to know why we’re different.
They might even be brave enough to come to us and ask what’s the reason for the change. And then we might have to use words to explain the transformation in our lives. That’s evangelizing. Telling our testimony, our story, of what God has done to change our priorities. What was number one isn’t any longer.
Because we’ve changed we also see people differently. We don’t classify people like we did before. We don’t think about the poor or the homeless or the aliens in our country as being any different from us. In fact they become our sisters and brothers and we begin to care about the things in their lives.
We actually notice them as the lay in our doorways. We pay more attention to them when we see them in Walmart or at garage sales. Their skin may be a different shade than ours but that doesn’t make any difference now.
Will any of these changes guarantee a place in eternity for us? No, they won’t. Our only guarantee is when we give our lives 100% to Jesus and pray that he will grant us his grace.
We have been commanded by Jesus to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. We have the best chance of achieving eternal life if we keep these commandments and give our lives to Jesus asking him to forgive us for our sins, for turning our backs on him for so long.
Friends, those are the things we should be striving for. Those are the things that should be very most important to us. Will we ever get it right? I doubt that I ever will but I trust in Jesus to intercede for us before God. I trust in God’s good grace.
So good friends, let Jesus come into your heart and allow him to transform you. Go out into the world, tell God’s story, your story, to all who will listen. Pay attention to those who are struggling in this world. Feel their pain and take a risk. Invite them into your lives. Sit with them and listen to their story. Love them and care for them.
Friends, that’s why we’re here, that’s our calling, to be ministers to God’s children, to make disciples, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God for his loving, forgiving grace. Amen.