Sermon – Easter 6 – May 6, 2018
1 John 5:1-8 ‘Taking on the World’
CT: Faith, your believing, forms the foundation of love that provides the security and boldness to face the world.
Intro: A young man received some good news after months of doctor appointments; he does not have cancer; his illness can be treated. Immediately the young man jumped to his feet and shouted, “I feel so good I could take on the world!” When was the last time you felt that invincible? There are those who tried to take on the world by force, Gangues Kahn, Napoleon, Hitler, but the world proved to be bigger than they. Some like Einstein tackled the world of science, but in spite of all his discoveries there were always more questions. Big names like Bill Gates took on the world of technology with great success, but that’s a tough game to stay on top of! Word records are challenged and broken no matter what you might excel in. Yet John is bold enough to say that that you, a Christian, are equipped to overcome the whole world. That’s quite a claim!
Our spirit: In Baptism we have been born of God; He has claimed us as His own, washed us, cleansed us, forgiven us, and has given us the Holy Spirit. Yet we still sin against God and others. Is that not our confession? Even so John wrote: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments?” Where does that leave you and me?
The Goliath we all face is the world of man’s spirit; what’s inside our hearts. It’s this world that affects all other aspects of our world, for Jesus said that out of our hearts comes every evil known to mankind. Our spirit is often overwhelmed by the world around us; it’s too big for us ever make a difference. We’re insecure in our efforts to tackle any of it because of the insecurity that is going on in here, in our own hearts.
Parent Relationship: Jesus is the David who slays our Goliath. He puts to rest the inner turmoil of our sin and disobedience by equipping us with an intimate relationship with the Father. Jesus not only makes us secure in our Father’s love for us but keeps us secure in it. John wrote that “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God;” is a child of God. And from this fact he reasons that everyone who loves the parent loves the child. As hard as that is to wrap our minds around, love of God and love for each other is connected. The world would like to separate the two, but they’re not. Jesus said “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This love for each other is not easy because you don’t pick your brothers and sisters in Christ anymore than you get to choose your earthly family. And no matter how messy your earthly family is, your family is a defining factor in who you are. Parents, in loving each other, give life to their children and raise them amidst of the complicated milieu of family dynamics (the only child, the oldest, middle, youngest). Your birth certificate validates this relationship.
God, the Father, loves you so much that He gives you life beyond life in the midst of His family; the Church. And your baptismal certificate validates this relationship. The blood and water that flowed freely from Jesus’ side, and the Holy Spirit agree; you have been made part of God’s family, Christ’s Church with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And our place in this family is renewed daily with confession, repentance, and the remembrance of your Baptism. At this Table your place in God’s family is reassured, sins are forgiven that your sin and guilt would not overcome your hearts. The victory over the world within in you is won through Christ Jesus—faith overcomes; the victory is yours!
Obedience: Faith’s strength is in your identity as a child of God. Out of your relationship with your heavenly Father is how you and I face the world out there. And the more secure we are at home the more confident we are outside the home. Jesus said that “in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jesus has overcome the sin within you and the sin out in the world, and that makes obedience to the Law possible because your close relationship with your heavenly Father has fundamentally changed what’s in here (your heart).
The Law without Jesus is a tyrant; judging you, accusing you, killing you, but under the grace of God it becomes a path for your life and a delight to keep. John said that the love of God is that we keep His commandments, and that they are no longer a burden. This is God’s work for you; in you. It’s like a child looking for ways to please their mother, and not in order to coheres their mother into giving them something, but simply out of love for who their mother is! Being loved brings out the desire in us to love in return. To be sure we can be awkward in how we show our love and selfish in picking up on the needs of others. But in every family where love prevails opportunities abound to forgive and be forgiven. And it’s not about some weak apology or because I brought flowers home, but simply because we love them for who they are. She is my wife; they are my brother or sister in Christ!
In Christ the Law has been fulfilled and the burden removed that through God’s love for you, you are able to strive toward divine discipline. You can now apply the Law to yourself and others with Christ-like faith and love, rather than puritanical severity. Remember how God in Christ Jesus has already forgiven you.
United: The Christian never takes on the world alone. Our obedience, our discipline has its beginning in here (the heart) in Christ and its end (the work out there) in Christ, but in the middle of it, there is us. John uses the plural; it’s not my faith, it’s our faith. Through Jesus Christ we are bound together in faith and love. Together we are equipped to tackle whatever the world may throw at us. We need each other! Even if we are ridiculed for standing up for what is pleasing to God, our gentleness and love for others bears witness to the truth; the victory is still ours in Christ Jesus. Firm in our faith and born of love you do make a difference to this world, for in Christ, you have overcome the world. The world need not overwhelm you for in Christ you are equipped to overcome the world through faith and love. God’s love made known and working through Christ Jesus overcomes the world. It’s as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”