Message for June 15, 2014

QUESTION:
What do you look for in a father? What’s the best thing about them?

THE TEXT:

MATTHEW 28.18–20

28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

28:20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In our text this morning, Jesus commissions His disciples with their task before turning the mission over to them. As He leaves, He tells them to go, baptize in the name of the Trinity (Father/Son/Holy Spirit) and teach the baptized to obey everything Jesus has commanded. Today I want to focus on the name that we are baptized into. At first glance, it would seem that Jesus has given three names for believers to be baptized into. But notice that He doesn’t say, “baptizing them into the names, “ rather He says “name.” Their is great significance in understanding the one name with three parts.

Ok, so some of you have met my dad, Wesley Martin. Wrapped up in that man is a whole host of mathematics, know-how, and can-do. I’ll mention just three things that stand out to me about him:

My dad is a human calculator, crunching numbers and chewing up data faster than I can blink. Computers slow him down and calculators take too long. Numbers are his forte and he loves to add them up and divide them out.

My dad, about 99% of the time, can figure out how to do just about anything. He possess a sort of general knowledge that can get him started in the right direction for any project. I learned from him very quickly that being resourceful is the key. You could call him the “human Google,” because he always has the right number, knows a guy, or has the most successful dumb–luck I’ve ever known.

Dad is also a problem–solver, using every impossible scenario as a means to the end of the maze. He is the perfect sounding–board, using ideas and conversation to help craft the perfect interview, loan agreement, banking option, or even lower a cable bill. He is a production–machine, never leaving anything undone; I have never seen him walk away from any project; he always sees things through to the end.

Now, all these things are important because my dad has attempted through the way he has lived his life to invite me into each of these areas, among others. He knows that through him I can learn these things and become these things. He makes a place for me through his example and teaching.

Now, how do I use Wesley Martin as an example of what it means to understand God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Like this. My dad is a mathematician, a resourceful man, and a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. None of those three characteristics solely defines my dad, and yet my dad is not my dad without them. They are intricate parts of his make–up and of my experience with him.
Therefore, God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:

As Father, He is a compassionate Creator who has given life when their was none;

As Son, He is a willing sacrifice by Redeeming us from sin and death; He is the Creator living as a creation;

As Spirit, He is an ever–present help and guide that will never leave me or forsake me.

God as Father, Son, and Spirit is not playing roles, switching modes, or even giving us different expressions of Himself at different times. God is all of these things at once and is at once all these things.

Now, I want to switch gears and turn to the icon behind me.
On the screen and on the altar is the work of a Russian Orthodox Christian from the 14th Century named Andrei Rublev. Icons are 2-dimensional carvings that tell the story of significant Biblical events. In this icon, Rublev was carving the Trinity as seen in God’s visit to Abraham in Genesis 18. The significance of the work is that the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit are seated in a way as to invite onlookers into the empty space, as if YOU have a place at the table.

Like Wesley who invites me into his knowledge and experience, and like the icon’s invitation to sit with the Holy Trinity, so God as Father/Son/and Holy Spirit is offering each of us a place with Him through relationship. But look at the icon again. What does that place at the table represent to you?
Does the place represent…

…an invitation to a first time relationship with God or a renewed relationship?

…an invitation to come as you are, maybe hurting, wounded, confused, or curious?

…an invitation to reading your Bible again, engaging in a study, or talking with me or someone at the church about prayer?

…an invitation to a new ministry opportunity or a way to get involved?

Whatever the space represents for you personally, God is there, ready and waiting to receive you and love you into the life you were created for. The challenge now is to come to the table and take your place; to sit and enjoy the company of the God who has made a place for you.

Each of us can experience the God who creates, redeems, and is present. These three characteristics reveal to the baptized the God who has created them, redeemed them, and remains present with them. These are the loving realities and actions of a God THAT loves and IS love.

And so, the Christian life provides us with all the knowledge, support, and experience that we need to live out successful faith. We CAN go into all the world and baptize new believers and teach them to live–out everything Jesus has passed onto us. See the Trinity as a blessing, a great gift that invites us into a loving relationship with God.

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