The Way, The Truth, The Life
Sermon by Steven McClelland on John 14: 1 – 14. Focus on why Jesus is The Way, The Truth & The Life. Be sure to check out Kelly Crandell & the choir! The four male soloists are amazing.
I remember going to seminary thinking that I would learn about God there. But I didn’t. I read people’s thoughts about God in books and wrote papers on their thoughts, but I never actually met God in seminary.
Where I met God was in my encounters with other people. Not really surprising when you stop to think of it. Of course, we are more apt to encounter God through other people because God incarnated as one of us in Jesus. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. Consequently, it is through other people that we are most likely to catch a glimpse of God just as others encountered God in Jesus. Throughout the years of my ministry and life, that has been my continuing experience.
I have also met God through my own failures and losses, met God when I went through my divorce, even met God when I was in a depression. God came to me through others who came to me and offered hope. But I never met God because of what someone else told me I should believe about God or in any doctrine.
My theology can best be summed up this way – Some people see Jesus as a dogma to be defended or a theology to be espoused. I simply see Jesus as the one who marks my way, tells me the truth and offers me an abundance of life.
And it’s about this life that I want to talk with you today.
When we baptised Jordon this morning we did not baptize him into a doctrine, a dogma or even a church. What we baptized Jordon into is Jesus’ way of living life, into what he said, what he did, and ultimately into the abundance of life that living like Jesus offers Jordon and everyone of us. People do not come to church to hear what the preacher has to say or even to hear great music, though I’m in favor of both. Why people come to church or do not come to church ultimately has to do with finding Jesus and coming to be with other’s who are seeking out Jesus.
When Paul started his churches he didn’t say we need to come up with a committee to handle this or a committee to handle that. What he told his parishoners was we need to preach only Christ. We need to talk about Jesus life, what he said, whom he said it to, why he said it. What he meant and what his death and resurrection promise. And ultimately we need to study and know the stories of his life backwards and forwards. This is a life long learning process.
It’s not about a preacher doing the work for you. It’s not about being a good citizen. It’s about knowing God. It’s about knowing and acting like Jesus and iff we do this and nothing more we will have been faithful.
Jesus never called us to be successful, rich or powerful. He simply called us to come and follow and to see for ourselves what kind of life that would lead to. He called it abundant. He called it the kingdom. And he commanded us to use the key of love to unlock the door into his kingdom.
Our world has undergone drastic changes since Jesus walked the earth, but what he talked about has not changed. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, love is all that really matters. It’s all that makes our lives meaningful. It’s all that endures.
Yet the meaning of love has become so sentimentalized and commercialized in our culture, that we come to apply it to cars, cloths, and flags. But the Biblical meaning of love has nothing what so ever to do with things. Love only exists in relationship to others.
It’s an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Agape, is the type of love Christ commanded us to give God, ourselves and others. Agape is the love of God operating in Jesus’ heart.
At this level love is something we give others not because we like them, nor even because they possess some divine spark. Agape is the call to love even our enemies simpy because God knows it’s the only thing that will ultimately work.
It’s this type of love that led Dr. Martin Luther King to say to those who hated him: “Be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.” (Strength to Love, pp. 54-55)
This love is hard work precisely because it isn’t sentimental. Now we can see what Jesus meant when he said: “Love your enemies.” We should be happy that Jesus didn’t command us to like one another. It’s almost impossible to like some people. How can you like a person whose aim is to discredit you? How can you like someone who places stumbling block after stumbling block in your path? How can you like someone who is bent on putting you down in order to make themselves look good? It’s impossible. But Jesus realized that love is greater than like. When he bids us love others as ourselves, especially our enemies, he bids us to do something that is very practical and realistic.
Returning hate for hate only multiplies hate. Violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. And hate also destroys the hater. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the human personality. Hate destroys a person’s sense of values and their objectivity. It causes a person to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the truth with a lie, and a lie with the truth.
Paul was right in describing the human condition as one which sees in a mirror dimly. Such is the persistent story of human life. We deny reality. We claim that a lie is the truth. We think being polite is the same thing as being just. We haven’t risen above the injunction of the eye for the eye, the tooth for the tooth, the life for the life.
Yet there is hope. There is forgiveness. Jesus eloquently affirmed that from the cross. Though generations will rise and fall; and men and women will continue to worship before the altar or retaliation; there still stands Jesus’ cross as a nagging reminder that only goodness can drive out evil, only love can conquer hate.
It’s this love which bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things that led Lincoln to speak words of kindness to the South when the war was most bitter. It’s this type of love that led Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to save a nation bent on destroying the very ideals of democracy, that all men and woman are created equal. It’s this type of love that towers over the wrecks and monuments of time. Do we not destroy our enemies when we make them our friends? This is the power of redemptive love.
It started with a small group of dedicated followers, who, because of faith, hope and love broke the shackles of the greatest empire in human history. And today the vast earthly kingdom of Christ numbers more than 900,000,000 and covers every land and every tribe on earth.
In end it’s all that lasts. In the end it’s why we baptized Jordon today. We have all promised to raise Jordon to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Begin to think about how we are going to do that. Amen.