17 February 2019 Disruption and Certainty Martin Baker
Matthew 7:1-14, 24-29
1 "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbour, "Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye. 6 "Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. 7 "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. 13 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!" 28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Let Us Pray
Over the last few weeks we have been hearing from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
He’s gone up to a high place to teach his disciples
We heard at the start of Chapter 5 - When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them.
Now, at the end of chapter 7 we hear:
28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
And right at the start of chapter 8 we read : When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.
So we follow Jesus through these 3 chapters. Jesus has got away from the crowds. He’s with his disciples.
They have left the routines and demands and expectations, the spoken and unspoken rules governing their regular lives, and they gather with Jesus on this high place for this teaching that we have been hearing about in these chapters.
We hear about the 12 disciples later on, but we can also read of a core group of people close to Jesus that was made up of a number of men and women.
Jesus has been teaching them about the kingdom of God. This new realm, in which those who would follow him, become citizens.
I know that all this sounds like background information.
But standing back from these verses we are also being told something else. And it’s not an easy lesson. That Jesus ‘s teachings and presence was very disruptive. The crowds that were following him. Where had they a turned up from? Didn’t they have jobs and homes to go to? Didn’t they have husbands, wives, children or parents that wondered where they had gone? And these disciples, we are told that they left their nets, their farming their village life, their work even as Roman collaborators and tax collectors, to follow Jesus. These aren’t small decisions that people are making.
What’s it like?
I’ve got a friend who takes his breakfast cereal with him whenever he goes away, because he just can’t imagine having breakfast any other way. That’s what he’s had for breakfast for as long as he can remember.
Has anyone else got a habit like that? Has anyone got a routine going on in the morning? The first cup of tea or coffee. The news , the paper.
Or do you know anyone who gets, let’s say, rather irritated if their routine is interrupted?
A certain way of doing things. Thinking about things? Stories that are told and re-told that speak of a particular way of viewing the world? Media that can reinforce a view that anything from a drink, to a phone, to a new washing detergent can change our lives and bring joy and happiness.
Imagine for a moment if our life ordering might be such a significant thing for us that it might even get in the way of Christ’s call on our lives? That we may have a flawed view that is never challenged. Or that our ordering of things might be the very things preventing us from developing or using our skills and gifts, get in the way of being the people God calls us to be?
I think it is a hard thing to talk about. Because all of us value the things of order and stability and security. They are powerful forces. We need to build walls to protect these things. To protect our order and view and opinions.
We have a friend who has spent a good part of her career counselling, regarded as being successful and wealthy, who are entering or perhaps are in, the middle or part of her life. She tells us that many of these people say the same two things - one that they have become almost imprisoned by their lives of order and routine, even those lives that have a lot of material benefits , and two, they desperately want something more, something else than what they have now. They know what their lives will be like if they make no change. They say, I can see what life will be like in the next 10 or 15 years. It’s not bad but it’s just not enough. It’s just not how I want my life’s story to unfold.
Back in Jesus’s day things didn’t change that much for most people. They lived in the same village did the same things that generations before them did.
So think what we are being told back in Chapter 3:18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they dropped their nets and followed him
So compelling, so powerful that those first followers accepted this major disruption to their routines, to their livelihoods, to how they saw the world, that they would follow Jesus, learning from him, and go with him up to this high place to hear his teaching.
So, on one hand this wonderful good news, and on the other a willingness to allow our whole lives to be disrupted by Jesus.
The way we have done things, seen things, understood our past and even our future - and Jesus calls us into discipleship. Into a commitment to learn and re learn.
Disruptive and wonderful and personal. Not abstract principles, but ways of ordering our lives as Jesus’ followers.
You’ve been in that same routine for so long, but come and follow me.
You’ve spent so much time judging and condemning those people over there, that person, that group , that race, that culture but you need to first sort yourself out. Get the log out of your own eye before you engage in criticisms of another. Our neighbour still has a speck in his or her eye, no one is perfect here, critical thinking is important, seeking justice is important, but think about where you are coming from, think about your own shortcomings and issues first. Come at these things from a point of humbleness and not arrogance.
In Chapter 6 Jesus taught us all about a close relationship with God
7 "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
One of the most challenging part of all our faith journeys, of our ministering to others, of the work we do on your behalf of a church, is to care for those who are facing major disruption.
We see, virtually every day, people desperate to find less expensive rental housing, husbands, wives partners who have left . We know the deep anxiety we feel when those who we love are unwell or have received a bad diagnosis.
But in the midst of all we face, hear a new story.
24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!"
Two things this morning.
Jesus is providing a clear audit list for our lives. Setting aside our fears and passion and the resources we put into order security stability and he tells us.
Stop judging and condemning others. No one exists outside God’s love and grace. No one.
Don’t be a hypocrite pretending, be honest about who you are, don’t be an actor presenting yourself as someone more worthy of grace that others. We’ve all got logs and specs in our eyes and we need to help each other see beyond those things.
Pearls before swine. Let’s decide what is holy and sacred and special. Let’s think about what is really precious and important in our lives. Jesus tells us what the most important things are. We all have the capacity to love, to forgive, to restore, to bring good news. Let’s make sure we use our gifts in the ways they were intended.
Never forget that you live in relationship to God creator who is as close to us as a loving parent. Who wants the best for us, even when we sin, muck up or do bad and evil things. Ask, seek, knock at the door.
Last week we heard Jesus give us the Lord’s prayer and today the message is reinforced. We may not comprehend the mystery and wonder of God, but we can keep things simple in how we relate to Jesus.
And finally remember. Life was tough back then. And life can be really tough now. But there is a firm foundation.
And the really good thing here is that faith in Jesus is never some theoretical abstract concept.
Jesus says everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
Remember who he is speaking to. Fisherman, tax collectors, farmers, men and women who have made decisions about following him, some of who have left everything, others who will return to their lives in village and fields and towns, with a new sense of call and purpose and direction.
We don’t have to be exceptional people to hear Jesus call to follow him. But it is disruptive. It does require change. So let’s pray that we can hear this morning, God’s call to each of us.
Would you like to share in our purpose and mission? We believe that good relationships, open discussion and a genuine desire to seek God’s calling allows us to grow as people and a community together.