Sermon for Sunday, April 11, 2021
Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1st John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31
In our lesson from Acts, we see that all of the believers were one in heart and mind, for they were living under the Holy Spirit. The Spirit provided the power to preach and teach, as Jesus did. That Spirit can and will give all believers the power to proclaim God’s Word of salvation. The early disciples in Jerusalem minimized private ownership and shared everything and no one in need was ever denied help. This kind of relationship was one of Agape love, in short, unconditional love for one another and never with any expectation of being returned to them. To say they would not appreciate this type of love in return was not welcomed, it just says that it was not a requirement for them to reach out to others in this type of love.
From Psalm 133, it is a short psalm, but is a very descriptive life lesson for us all. When families live and work together with one heart and mind, Anything is possible and the harmony created overflows to those around the family. Beloved, this most certainly applies to the family of God. If the congregation is not worshiping in harmony, then there is discord and must be sought out and resolved. If one member causes hardship on another, then both parties must be brought together and counseled so as to resolve whatever is wrong, even to the point of bringing the parties in front of the congregation, to seek resolution, whereas the congregation can once again worship without discord of any kind and praising God is once again the focus of worship.
In the lesson from 1st John, we can see similarities to what we witness in contemporary society. In many churches, people were no longer being taught from the Word, there were people saying Jesus had not come in the flesh, as God is all Spirit. This first letter from John was written to respond to such false teaching and a call for churches to once again teach on Scripture on Christians doctrine. Afterall, he witnessed Jesus before and after the resurrection. As Christians we are closely tied to Israel and its people. 70 years ago, there were people claiming that God was on their sided, but then claimed that all of the people’s problems were due to the Jews and they must be removed from life itself. Today, there is a growing faction of people all over the world, who believe the Holocaust was not real, that it was made up. A world war was fought to over the issues, and immediately following the end of the war, People were brought face to face with what had happened and many said we will never forget, but they have forgotten. In 2001, 3,000 people lost their lives when two planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York, by religious zealots, seeking to inflict death and pain on Americans for what they perceived was right under their religion to strike out against non-combatants. People said they would not forget, and yet 20 years later, they have forgotten. In current times, movements to wipe out part of American history, because people mistreated and even killed black Americans in this country. Statues were targeted to be removed, history rewritten and edited, and this was wrong. I do not begrudge those Americans for their desire to bring the issue of slavery and treatment of fellow human beings to the forefront, but rioting and destroying businesses and personal properties was wrong and should never be allowed to happen. Speaking out, and peaceful demonstrations have been successful for bringing issues to light for many years, and reveals a nation willing to deal with its own sin and wrongdoing. Move statues to visible but less respected locations, shows that we have recognized the wrongdoing in that era, and reminds us of the terrible things that took place and to not repeat those mistakes again. I don’t like revisionist history; I prefer the truth of what took place and who was involved and approved of it is my preferred take on history. If we face our history, then we are less likely to repeat it again. Revision history works well with archaeology, whereby someone finds new evidence, and it is appropriate to incorporate that truth.
In John’s Gospel today, we begin with the disciples behind locked doors, for fear of Jews finding them and doing to them, what they had done to Jesus. Jesus appears to His disciples in His resurrection body, and that He can easily transcend both time and space. He had power to vanish so as to cease to be seen by others. In fact, the description of Jesus gives us insight to the believer’s resurrection body; It is easily recognizable, even to the presentation of the scars of crucifixion, suggests visual continuity from the physical body.
So how do these Scriptures apply to us today? Truth, beloved, never goes out of being presented. We all should be presented the truth straight out of the Bible, because we are to preach and teach the truth. God blesses those who honor Him. So, we are to live, worship, and work in one mind and one truth. For those who want to give you a prosperity message that does not prepare you for the hard and good times, they will in time fail to last. God will not bless a preacher or church, that does not just study biblical truth, and therefore live out the biblical message that God has given each and everyone of us, then it will not survive.
People are hungry for the truth; they are hungry to be treated respectfully; they are hungry for God’s love; and they are hungry for doing the work of God, before we can ever enter the kingdom of heaven. Do you look at someone seeking help and turn away? Do you see a person that is hungry and not feed them? Do you help work in your community to see that all persons are treated fairly? Do you write and/or call your elected officials and give them your stance on issues? Do you then hold them accountable to be who they said they wanted to be? Do you get involved, sharing God’s love with all others. When people look at you, do they see Jesus? This is what these Scriptures all have in common, beloved. You may not be able to do all things, but you can do something. God will bless your efforts, if they are within His will. I pray this is clear and understood. Amen