Sermon Summary for May 13, 2018
Sunday’s sermon, “Lies About Jesus,” was based on 1 John 4:1-6. Unfortunately, the sermon was not recorded, but you can read a summary of the message below. On Wednesday and Thursday I will post some questions for further reflection.
In the passage, the Apostle John deals with the problem of “fake news” in his day – false prophets and false teachings. False prophets arise periodically from within the church. They teach both formally (words and ideas) and informally (behavior and examples). Their teaching is flawed because it does not embrace the whole truth about Jesus – that he is the fullness of God come to earth in human flesh. Because they reject this truth, false prophets cannot rise above the wisdom and ways of life of this fallen world, and neither can those who follow them.
Denying that Jesus is the fullness of God causes us to set up someone or something else as our supreme authority. It may be Muhammad, the Hindu pantheon, or our own individual desires and ideas. But none of these authorities know the mind and heart of God, as Jesus does. Those who submit to such authorities remain in the dark about how to please God and cannot experience the fullness of life that God intends for human beings – a life of determined, persistent, and sacrificial love for others.
Denying that Jesus came to earth in human flesh causes us to ignore the importance of our bodies and relationships to our spiritual lives. Jesus knew and experienced his Father not only through the mental work of studying the Scriptures, but also through the embodied rhythms of work and rest, solitude and fellowship, fasting and feasting. Those who ignore Jesus’ humanity reduce the life of faith to the acquisition of knowledge, closing off numerous avenues of spiritual growth.
In the same way, while Jesus healed and preached to masses of people, he worked within his bodily limitations, devoting most of his time and energy to making disciples of a few brothers. He was deliberate, persistent, and sacrificial in his love of them, bearing with their weaknesses, failures, and even their disloyalty. Those who ignore the full humanity of Jesus remain locked in the habit of treating other people as disposable objects. They risk missing out on the painful joy that can only be found in loving particular people over a lifetime.
The Christian life is not natural – it must be taught, through both precept and example. Teaching produces habits that result in a certain quality of life. Teaching that grasps the fullness of Jesus will lead to habits that reproduce his quality of life. Tomorrow and Thursday I’ll post some questions to get us thinking about how we can order our lives in light of Jesus’ true nature – the fullness of God in human flesh – and how ordering our lives will yield the fruit of strong, sacrificial love.