By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Boise, ID. March 15, 1999)
This morning I have a sermon that is a composite of my "think notes"
(Think notes?) Things that I jot down while I am meditating; separate points that are not big enough for a whole sermon by themselves.
The chart for this lesson starts with two opposites, Love and Fear.
Christians are losers. In the eyes of the world we are a bunch of backward thinking, emotionally needy, weak cowards who are afraid to live. We think about and actually look forward to death. We let the world run over us like fools. We are destined to come in last. We go around "LUVing" everybody. Christians will never survive.
But the only alternative to Christianity is to live for yourself. Which is what most of the people on this planet do, and they do so out of fear.
The opposite of a positive, enabling Love is to shrink back in -
Fear is the downward slope to death. The first thing the person who is not of love does is he, in fear, tries to protect himself. I cannot let them walk all over me. I've got to do something. So he responds in -
I've got rights. I've got individual strength and power and they will not make me bend. They will get out of my way or I'll take them down. I'll make them afraid to hear my name. Pride is a trap, a downward slide into the pit. This leads to -
How dare they say that about me! How dare they treat me like that! You can't do that to me!
Now since the world is against you, you react in a generalized -
A person's protective pride and anger will lead to a general hatred of all men. Since your welfare and self-preservation comes before all others, you will not see others as anything worthy of your time. Since there are all these people out to get you, you will hate their guts. And since everything is going wrong in your life, you will hate God also. If there is a God then how can he let all this bad stuff happen, especially to me? Rom.1:30 "...backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents"
This hatred of the creator leads to -
1Jno.3:14-15 "He who does not love his brother remains in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."
But all this is unnecessary.
God has provided a way to life that salvages the mess that we make of our beings. It is the path of -
It is the image of God that we can mirror in ourselves, the essence of his nature in us. There is no need for fear or pride when we can see that there is no threat. We can have a clear view of who we really are and so have meekness and -
Love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up; 1Cor.13:4
A person who loves does not think of himself as high, he is usually not thinking of himself at all.
Mat. 18:1-4 "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of the heavens?”
Then Jesus called a little child to him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of the heavens. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens."
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon him, for he cares for you.
God gives grace to the humble. That is the kind favor of God. The creator is of the mind of humbleness of heart. Jesus said that he was meek and lowly in heart. Therefore he takes the side of the humble against their enemies. He makes all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. Therefore he gives them -
We not only receive grace from God but we extend grace to others. It is the glory of love that it gives freely and joyfully to others in need. Of his fullness have we all received and grace for grace. This is the environment and atmosphere of -
It is the grace of God that has given life. It is the gift of God. Rom. 6:23
For thus says the high and lofty one
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
"I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
He revives us by giving us Life in Jesus Christ. We have the light of Life. He gives us the Crown of Life. We reign in Life. Because of this he will -
This is the crowning of the Eternal Life in heaven having overcome the world and the suffering that we experienced for his sake. He glorifies us with the glory that Jesus had with him before the world began. We share in that glory in a hidden way now having been raised along with Jesus to sit with him in the heavenly realm.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
So in this range or spectrum of opposites, which is stronger?
What makes for strength?
To remain humble though provoked.
To remain forgiving though persecuted
To remain loving though despised.
This is the stronger of the two. To live in the light of the truth and love as God loves is the true strength that reflects the image of the everlasting Being who created the universe. This is our true image and his true glory.
~ Invitation ~