Sunday, June 14, 2015

Constrained by the Love of Jesus

3rd Sunday of Pentecost
June 14, 2015
Fr. Philip Eberhart

Captured and Constrained by Love

This week all of our scriptures contain a theme word:  The theme is planting!  And of course the image of planting is not complete without the image of harvesting or reaping.  The two go together don't they?

We're close enough to the land here in the west, that we kind of instinctively know that we're fast approaching the time when harvest (the wheat harvest) should be upon us.  In about 3-4 weeks, in fact, - around the 4th of July the harvest should begin in eastern Colorado and move this way.  It's already begun in some parts of Okla and Tx and Ks.  The rain has played havoc with that process and may actually delay the harvest, because there has to be a certain dryness - a certain level of moisture in the wheat itself to proceed.

I love this gospel reading about the farmer, who does the stuff but admits he is clueless about how the stuff grows!  He just puts it in the ground, waters it, weeds it and watches it.  And up it comes, first the little green leaves peeking through the ground, - the miracle begins - and there is joy there for the farmer!

There is potential that is built in and the farmer knows of that potential, for each stalk of wheat.  And the farmer is into cultivating potential!!  That is what all the dedicated activity of the other 51 weeks of the year is about!  The cultivating, the weeding, the watering and the watching.

Ya know soil isn't very discerning!  It will accept any kind of seed that is put in, and activate that seed for the "crop" that that seed will produce.  Whether weeds or wheat, the soil doesn't discern, the soil doesn't care!

The farmer cares - the farmer plants particular kinds of seeds - actually according to what he wants to harvest! to reap.  Because he knows in his bones, You reap what you sow! 

We reap what we sow!

It's not just a principle for the farmer, but for all of us in life.  And this morning I want to bear down on a particular kind of seed and a particular kind of sowing - the Kingdom kind, not the farmer kind.

The fact is that we are all farmers in the Kingdom of God!  God is relying on us, at some level and in some degree, to be engaged in the work of planting seeds.

So let's look for a moment at what "seed" is actually.

The seed you plant is the kind of crop that you want to reap.
If grace, then grace;  if honor, then honor;  if peace, then peace!
What is it that you need to sow, in order to reap a harvest?
if money, then money; if righteousness, then righteousness.

Whatever you plant, that is what comes up and produces fruit in your life.  To have honor, you must sow or give honor;  to have grace, then you give grace;  to grow in righteousness, you sow righteousness; 

Do you sow righteousness?  What do you mean, preacher?

The writer to the Hebrews puts it this way:
[Heb 12:11 NASB] 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

You sow righteousness, by attending to the discipline of the Lord and by sowing the disciplines of the Lord.  It's what we were talking about last week - the discipline of waiting on God - of watching with Him, of attending to Him, to Investing in Him, and of spending Time with God.
That's sowing unto righteousness.  And what you sow is what you reap.

Now let's turn for a minute to the NT passage from Paul.

This is the beginning of one of my favorite passages from 2 Cor 5:14 here through the end of the chapter:  but let's just look at two facets here.

Paul tells us here that he is compelled by the Love of Christ.  Our reading translated it "urges us on."  The word that Paul uses here is a very strong word that only comes up 12 times in the NT.  It is variously translated but the picture is of being pressed from every side = actually like a cattle squeeze chute!

We are compressed from every side - by the love of Christ!!!

Encompassed, Pressed In, Compelled, = the word is used of large ships as they go through narrow straits of water.
Is the picture coming clear?

Look at what Paul says:
Here is part A...
For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

An understanding of what Jesus has done - in dying for us and for all people, leads us to a lifestyle decision:  "that those who live might not live for themselves, but for him who dies and was raised for them."

And then part B...
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Have you begun to see people differently?  Can you see people as human beings, not human doings?  Not for what they do or have, but for who they are?  See them for the potential that each one has?  See them through Jesus' eyes -through God's eyes?

We are compelled by the love of Christ!  It says that Jesus was moved with Compassion - same stuff!  That compassionate, and passionate love of Jesus for people who are hurting is what moves us to be and to do for His Kingdom!  And here we are urged to look with eyes wide open to the needs of those around us - with "bowels of compassion" like Jesus had.  What some of the early evangelists of this past century called a "passion for souls."

I need you to check your passion level this morning?  Check you COM - passion level this morning?  Is there something that is lacking - something that is the "More" that could be inside there, in your heart, that motivates you to speak to someone - a little outside of your comfort zone - to ask someone if you might be able to pray for them, for family, for some need.

We pray for open doors for ministry in lives around us - but doors often don't just open by themselves, do they?  We must sometimes reach out and open the door.  see if its unlocked, if that life is accessible - you might be surprised at times. 

Just a listening ear will open up great opportunities for ministry!

What are you planting in those around you?  What kind of seed.
My final challenge is for you to plant that which can "spring up to eternal life."  That seed is finally, this Word of God.  No greater seed there is!  No greater gift there is than this Word planted in the heart of someone who is watching you!

It is your call to duty!  Are you praying for the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest?  Are you ready to be sent - willing, available and obedient?

Let's pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, your love so compelled you that you spent your very self, in life and in death, for us and for others all around the world.  Give us, we pray, such a touch of your heart of compassion, that we might be filled with Your love for the world - and for our neighbor.  Send us Lord as agents of reconciliation - ambassadors for your Kingdom, in the lives of those we meet and we pray, Lord, open doors for us to speak on your behalf, into the lives of those who do not know you.

In the Name of Jesus and for the sake of His Kingdom,

Amen and Amen.

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