Pentecost 15, 2016
“Let love continue”
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
How many of you have heard these phrases...or similar phrases? "It's a dog eat dog world." "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." "Payback is a ...[bleep]." "You're going to get what you deserve." From a very young age the world teaches us that we have to look out for number one; we have to take care of ourselves. Sin has tainted this world. Sin causes hatred and division. Sin leads us to care for ourselves and ignore the needs of others. Sin causes us to hate rather than love.
When you're coming back on Dixie Highway and somebody cuts you off just south of Goodenow Road...what are you thinking? What would you say if you caught up to them and passed them as they were pulled over by a police officer? Or passed them as they had a flat tire? Maybe you'd think: "serves you right." Would you stop and help them? Would you stop and help them if their vehicle had swerved...or flipped? I pray that you or I would. There is much truth to the song "they shall know we are Christians by our love..." How many know that we are Christians?
Our Lord sees what takes place in this world from both afar and from walking amongst us daily. He has seen and felt the wages of sin. Through the author of Hebrews God exhorts us to holy living in a corrupt and dying world. He tells us: “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:1-8)
Even as Christians we have a hard time loving others. That whole loving your enemy isn't easy...and yet its sometimes harder to love those whom are closer and have hurt you. But not only are we to love…but we are to “keep on loving.” We are called to love continually. Even as friends and loved ones fail us. Even when others lie, cheat and steal from us…we are called to love them. Love strengthens us. Love shares Christ with others. Love helps those in need.
We sometimes ask “what’s the use?” and our Lord reminds us that “some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2) Christians help others, including strangers, out of love. For “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Even if you have no spare money to give or food or bed to offer you can give others your time. You can listen to them when nobody else will, you can pray with them to a Heavenly Father that loves you both, you can laugh and cry with them. You can be their friend.
Our Lord also addresses the loving relationship of marriage in our text. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4) The sanctity of marriage is in danger of being lost. Christians are just as guilty as non-believers in having sexual relationships before marriage and outside of marriage. Christians are just as likely to get divorced. Christians have committed adultery just like others. How sad it is that marriage has been attacked by sin. With God there is forgiveness. With God there is strength. With God’s help we may keep the sanctity of marriage pure and be the husbands and wives our Lord calls us to be.
At the heart of many broken friendships, relationships, and marriages in this world is the love of money and wealth. Money can ruin even the strongest friendships and marriages. Money can tear tight-knit families apart. God warns us: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)
It is dangerous to put our trust in earthly goods. Many people have learned that money cannot buy you happiness; that money cannot buy you good friends; that money does not buy love. Everything that money can buy you…is temporary. All things that you can purchase with money will only last a short time. Money fails to give us what we truly need in this life and the next. Even as money fails, neighbors and friends fail you, loved ones fail you…there is One who will not fail you. God Himself must have our confidence and trust. When all else fails…God will never fail you.
As the world around you continues to change daily do not fear. Emotions change daily, computers are outdated the second you buy them, the stock markets go up and down by the minute, even the world changes around you. Don’t worry about a world that is constantly changing. Don’t worry that you don’t know what lies ahead of you today, tomorrow or next week. Take comfort for you have a Lord and Savior that does not change.
But how is that our comfort? In a world that believes the Bible is outdated and that those who stand against sin should just get with the time. In a world where friendships are made and lost daily…in a world where people fall in and out of love at a whim…how is an unchanging Lord our comfort?
A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on "The Love of God." As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.
An unchanging Christ is our comfort for what he has and continues to do in His unchanging promise. Christ died for you and that will not change. Christ loves you and that sacrificial love will not change. Heaven is yours and that will not change. Christ will “never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Thank God that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.