Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Word No One Wants to Talk About

Sermon, cont (and this is the end)...

Jesus was telling him, and he tells us, to allow our behavior to follow our belief.

It isn’t easy. Jesus tells his disciples that moving a camel through the eye of a needle would be easier. Don’t try to explain that simile away. It’s hyperbole for a purpose. To do what Jesus is asking is more than difficult – Jesus tells us that it is impossible. It is like asking a camel to walk through the eye of a needle. But Jesus tells us to do it anyway.

With God, the impossible becomes possible. With God’s grace, we are empowered to give away even that which we thought was most value to us – because God’s grace becomes even more valuable to us.

A few years ago, I was leading a morning devotional for the Covenant Council of our Annual Conference. The Covenant Council is composed to the leaders of the different committees and work areas of the Conference. To end the devotional, playing off the name Covenant Council, I read John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. Hear these words of John Wesley’s, and listen carefully to what we are being asked to do:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

When I read that to the covenant council, I told them that I find the words hard to pray – maybe even impossible to pray. They are words I don’t want to talk about. I told the group that together we might be able to pray them; as an individual, I am not.

We are told that the rich young man walked away from Jesus, grieving. We assume he is unwilling to do what Jesus has asked him to do, and that that is why the man walks away, and maybe that’s true, but go read the story again; it doesn’t say that. I wonder if perhaps he walked away to do what Jesus asked him to do, but is grieving over the loss what he values the most. I wonder what happened next. What change did God work in the young man? Did the young man allow God to do the impossible in his life?

I invite you today to allow God to do the impossible in your life. Will you let go of what you value and trust the most so that you can enter into a relationship with God? Will you move beyond discipleship to the stewardship of what God has given you? Will you allow God to do the impossible and change the world through you?

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