The voice of Love
August 5 2018
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts be acceptable in
your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
So I guess the questions are:
1. How do you know the voice of the Shepherd, the voice of Jesus?
2. Where do you hear it?
1. How do you know the voice of the shepherd?
If as the Bible says: God is love then the voice of Jesus will always be the voice of God which will be the voice of love.
That means the voice of Jesus will always speak out from a depth of
“Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
humility, and self-control.” Gal 5:23
By the way, these are all intrinsic values which we should all have as followers of Jesus. These are the qualities that guide the way we live.
What we buy
our relationships with others
how we use our wealth
how we treat our neighbours
and our enemies.
These are the fruit of or the result of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, that people would know we belong to Him
Because of our love.
Not how much we read the Bible
not how hard we pray
not how often we go to church
or any of these external things
but by our love for each other
and for all people.
The apostle Paul writes: Col 3:12-15 …clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (13) Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. (14) And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.
So in answer to the question, how do I know the voice of the shepherd
It will always be an invitation
to love others as God has loved you.
Against this is of course our human nature
Which is all about self-preservation
And the two are really quite opposite.
Here is the deal.
There is a massive world out there that plays on our survival instinct.
And they hire advertisers to convince you that the product they want you to buy is good for your survival
Survival as status
as what you wear
how you impress.
Now advertising is good if it helps us find what we really need when we need it.
Bad advertising is kind of like –
There is a drink that the advertisers say:
Gives you wings.
Right? You’ve heard it?
No it doesn’t!
True advertizing of the product might read:
“ “ gives you, weight gain, anxiety, cardiovascular risk and dehydration!
Which is hugely different from giving you wings.
Question then is this the voice of love?
And if we are wanting godly direction
if we are wanting the kind of world
that protects the poor
and cares for the helpless
and promotes justice and fairness simply ask
is this advert created in the name of love or the name of self-centredness?
Good exercise for the week
if you’re in front of the T.V. or reading the paper
what is the driving force behind what I am asked to buy
is it love and mutual respect for all people
or is it about self?
Another example: You hear some gossip. Is this the voice of love? Is this the voice of the shepherd leading into paths of right relationships?
Do you pass it on?
Do you politely ask the person to change the subject.
What does the voice of love tell you to do?
And if we know the shepherd’s voice
and that means being connected to Jesus at a heart level
we will, as the apostle Paul writes know:
(15) The peace that Christ gives that guides you in the decisions you make
There is the voice of our human nature that seeks attention that makes us want to pass on gossip. There is the shepherd’s voice, the voice of love that asks: Will this build up or destroy? Helpful or hurtful?
So the voice of the shepherd leads you in the right path.
The right path will always be loving service to others
especially the poor. God obviously has a heart for the poor and the disadvantaged.
The prophet Jeremiah writes: This is what it means to know LORD. Give the poor a fair trial, and all will go well with you. Jer 22:16
Isa_58:7 Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.
Amo_2:8 At every place of worship people sleep on clothing that they have taken from the poor as security for debts. In the temple of their God they drink wine which they have taken from those who owe them money.
I love this one:
Amo_4:1 Listen to this, you women of Samaria, who grow fat like the well-fed cows of Bashan, who mistreat the weak, oppress the poor, and demand that your husbands keep you supplied with liquor!”
So the voice of the Good Shepherd always speaks in words of compassion.
Secondly where do we hear the voice of the Good shepherd?
In the Bible – especially the words of Jesus – because He is the Good Shepherd.
But also in such as the voices of peace makers.
In the voices of those who protect the helpless
the voices of those who campaign for the rights of the oppressed.
Back in the 60’s a duo, Simon and Garfunkel had these lyrics in a song:
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls!” God speaks through the cries of the dispossessed.
A great teacher and man of God wrote:
There are sermons in stones. God can speak to you in an inanimate rock.
The voice of the shepherd speaks from the cry of the homeless
and the hungry
the abused and the neglected.
From the over fed and indulgent crying out for meaning.
From those who are persecuted and marginalized
and mocked and crucified by religious zealots.
The voice of the shepherd cries out
‘rescue my people
saved them from angry wolves that destroy.’
Years ago at a General Assembly of our church
there was a big debate going on.
I was asked rather rudely whose side was I on?
And I went to sleep that night decided.
And in the morning when I woke the question came into my mind.
Whose side are you on?
and the answer very different from the night before, came quite unexpectedly from within, the voice of love, soundless:
“I’m on the side of the crucified one.”
The Good Shepherd speaks, yes in the Bible the Word of God
and still on the subway walls and tenement halls.
And wherever men and women and children – all children of God by creation
And the crucified ones in our society.
And then the voice of the Good Shepherd is heard in silence.
I can’t stress this enough.
And that means switching off the noise.
The noise of advertizing that appeals to the self.
The noise of internet chatter.
The noise of radios and music and yes even the noise of Christian songs
because the Bible reminds us that they can hide us from God.
I can’t count the number of times when in times of silence
I have brought my
frustration and anger and bitterness
and self-justification before God.
And then as the hymnist prays, “speak through the heat of our desires, thy coolness and soothing oil,”
there for me has come the still small voice of calm
the voice of love
that at the onetime chastises me and embraces me,
wounds me and binds me up
showing me my blindness and the Shepherds Great Heart
all at the one time.
All the voice of love.
All present in silence. We have much to learn from the Quakers, the Society of Friends and the contemplatives in our Christian tradition.
The Shepherds voice is the voice of love
because you are God’s beloved.
And if we have that awareness then the other voices
the voices that say
you need this and that to be happy
will easily be rejected.
For there are only two things we need:
To be loved and to be love.
And then it’s very simple to hear the Shepherd’s voice
leading you into paths of right relationships.
Lastly this morning the voice of the Good shepherd says
I will never leave you or forsake
and in all things
my grace – my love for you will be sufficient for you.
Today, if we will hear his voice.
Now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
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