Sunday October 04, 2020
I once received responses from 4 to 8 year old kids, on the subject of love. Here is a few representative responses: “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and doesn’t think it’s gross.” Mark – age 8; “Love is when my Mommy pours coffee for my Daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” Danny – age 8; “During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and then saw my Daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that, I wasn’t scared anymore.” – Cindy – age 8; “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4; “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy – age 4: “A four old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his fie. Upon seeing the little boy went into the old gentleman’s year, climbed on his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, ‘Nothing, I just said helped him cry.’” No name, but was aged 4.
Our lesson from Isaiah explains what God our Creator has done for us, by providing for all our needs and reveals His guidelines for life—-justice and righteousness. We are free to refuse our allegiance to our Creator and ignore His plans for our lives. He is free to deal with us as we make it necessary by our conduct. Our freedom keeps us from being robots and allows us to choose to relate to God in loving faith. His freedom to interact with His creation prevents Him from becoming an “absentee God,” far removed from His creation and powerless to control it.
After giving the house of Israel every advantage, God sang of His disappointment at Israel’s bad fruit. Woe and destruction await those who disappoint God with evil and bad fruit. Rejected love turns to wrath when righteousness become riotousness and loyalty turns to lament. The wrath of God results from His love being rejected. We accept His love by living in righteousness and justice.
In Philippians, Paul is in prison, but is responding to a financial donation from the church in Philippi, which he had been asked to help. Subsequently, the church had helped Paul or his various needs out many times, as well as, helping the poor in Jerusalem. In his response, Paul notes that “he considers everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. “But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
In Matthew, we have the “Parable of the Tenants,” where a landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a wine press for it and built s watchtower. He then rented out this property with the agreement of payment for use of his land. He left on a journey but at harvest time, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. They were seized, one was beaten, another was killed and a third was stoned. The landowner then sent his son, thinking they would respect him by sending his son, they they killed him and assumed his inheritance. Jesus asked, “Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
Jesus reminded them that rejection of the son was rejection of the father. Jesus’ coming represented God’s invitation to Israel to attend the banquet, honoring the Messiah. They refused to participate, so refusing the honor’s God’s Son was rejecting The Father. God in grace invites all people to His kingdom. Remember, however, that throughout history, God has chosen the faithful remnant for His kingdom. The priests and Pharisees realized that Jesus was talking about them, directly, but to all who rejected the Kingdom of God. It is a free choice, beloved and those who refuse this gift of love from our God through His Son, our Lord and Savior, will find themselves outside of the kingdom upon Jesus’ return.
Just like the love of the little boy who saw his elderly neighbor sitting outside his home, he didn’t know what to do for him, but he just got into his lap and cried with him. It was the most loving thing he could do for the man, to show him he cared for him. God loves us all, but we do not always return that love to Him. Let us all be more like the little 4 year old boy, and show our God just how much we love Him and when we fail Him, to seek His forgiveness and keep on trying to do better. Amen.
Rev. Jerry Lyle