"At the End of the Day…"??
2 Corinthians 13.11???13
11Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. 13The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.??
16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, ???All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.?????
I hope that today we can deal faithfully with the 2 texts before us. There is a lot to see if we will see it.??
We live in a world today that desires a quick fix, a short-version for quick understanding and fast application. But the Christian life is NOT a life that can be packaged in such a way that all the stuff that comes with that life can be left out and forgotten about. One of my heroes, Dr. Steve Harper of Asbury Seminary, says that our Christian lives are a labor of obedience???from first day to last. Though, I know many of us don't want to hear it, we are NOT going to wake up tomorrow morning and have the perfect spiritual life. No book, no preacher, no mission trip is going to change you in such a way that you will escape the lessons that God allows life to teach us. Life is about being formed by God and formation takes time.??
And yet, ironically in our scriptures today, we have the closing words of both Paul and Christ, boiling down their lives and ministries for their disciples whom they are sending out to do the work of God. Even though growth comes in time ??? and not a microwaved moment ??? we do have a short and concise piece here of how life is to be lived as a disciple of Jesus Christ.??
Analysis of Paul's Words??
Now, Paul had A LOT to say to the Corinthians. Throughout both letters, he has told his personal testimony, defended his ministry, shared his concern about the way they have lived their lives, dealt with personal issues and situations that were detailed and specific to them, and given amazing instructions for holy living. You gather a pretty detailed picture of who Paul is ??? the things he cares about, the things he has a distaste for, the way he views the Christian life, and the importance of Christ's role in the world. But pay attention to his final words, to the plea in verse 11.??
Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.??
For Paul, God being with a united people is the most important thing of all. Paul goes to great trouble in ALL of his letters to explain the role of Jesus Christ in making us one with God and one with each other. His appeal to this congregation is that they be one, that God be in the midst of them with his peace.??
But I'll ask you Is there anything harder than being united and in agreement with each other? Many of us think it's hard enough to get along with family, and then we venture out into the world, only to realize that the world is full of impossible people. Middle school and High school are places of great challenge and hardship. Work places and social circles are filled with people we just don't like and we spend a great deal of time avoiding them. The joy in our schools and work places comes when we find those that we can relate with, that we can lean on. It is then that we find that little bit of extra strength in order to show our faces again and again.??
But this is Paul's challenge to us. Despite the difficulty, the seemingly impossible task of getting along, we are CALLED in Jesus Christ to come together and be at peace with one another. We must understand that if we are to ever experience real peace ??? in our hearts and in our relationships ??? that it will only come in our devotion to Jesus Christ. TODAY we are called to experience what it is that Christ desires to teach us, and we MUST go the distance with him.??
Christ is calling us first and foremost into a deeper relationship with God ??? and this deeper experience is what brings the peace of God into all other relationships. All of life starts with God, especially relationships. Church-life is relationships and it isn't easy. If anything, Church can prove to be harder than everyday-life, because religious life brings out the truth in all of our hearts. We see the good and the bad in each other, whereas in the world all we see is a shadowy version of others, as we put forth our often self-created "best side" in order to be liked or accepted.??
But because we are the Church, the whole-self is brought out into the light and we begin to see each other for who we really are. God desires this in his Church, this exposing of our souls, whether light or dark, because it is only in this sort of truth that true transformation can take place. We must see the wounds and know the extent of the damage done so that the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, can come and heal those wounds. And it is in the healing of our hearts that we are now ready to do the work of God. Ministry becomes our diet.??
Analysis of Jesus' Words??
Turning to Jesus' words in Matthew 28, we are dealing with this spiritual diet, the diet of ministry. What we must understand in these closing remarks of our Lord is that the ministry and the work of Jesus have not come to an end, but that the one who has performed this work has turned over the Spirit of the work to those who are to continue on. In essence, there is nothing ending here, but only a continuation. Others are being called and invited to continue the work, to carry on the work, to uphold the work. They are being entrusted with the important mission at hand ??? the mission of making disciples, of forming a community that lives out the life God has asked his children to live.??
What is Jesus' charge, then, what is Jesus' work for us? It is to go into all the world and make disciples, and in our making of disciples we are baptizing them. And what is baptism, but a bringing in of people into the household of faith? This work is the work of relationships, of creating family! It is through our baptism that God has worked and has grafted us into himself and into each other. God is bringing us into his body, the Church, and creating a community that makes up his kingdom here on earth.??
Each of us must understand that our work as Christians is a work of love. Our entire lives are a striving after a life that is bent on reconciliation, of prayer, of relationships. God's work in this world is a work that seeks to unite. I'm not talking about political unity, of parties agreeing or sports rivals treating each other civilly. I'm talking about a unity that puts us on our knees for our enemies, a one-ness and a peace that arm us with towels and basins to wash the feet of those who we wish to turn away from. To serve those who disgust us, to love those that make us walk the other way. What would it mean, Church, if we undertook the holy work of hospitality, of welcoming into the body of Christ those who we at first want nothing to do with???
I say…let us open ourselves up to a kind of love that changes us, that changes others, that boggles the minds of people around you, that testifies to a God who has marched to the top of the hill, with the world on his back, and DIED for those who would never love him. Our life is a labor of love, of grace, of mercy???and its a life that only comes from God-Above, through Jesus Christ.??
At the end of the day…Redwine…Live in peace an
d the God of peace will be with you. Go into every corner of the world and welcome others into the family of faith. And the God of love will be with you always, all the way to the end. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.??
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