The Scripture lessons for 7/10/2016 were Leviticus 18:1-5, 19:9-18; Colossians 1:1-14; and Luke 10:25-37 and the title of Pastor Krause’s sermon was “God Makes Us Worthy, so that We Can Walk Worthy.”
Pastor Krause’s title reminds me of a book written by Martin Marty, a well-known Lutheran pastor and church historian. Marty’s book is Being Good, Doing Good and is based upon Matthew 7:16-20 where Jesus tells us that “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” In his book Marty explains that God first makes us good through the death and resurrection of Jesus and through His indwelling through His Spirit. It is as His new and good creation that we can and do bear good fruit (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Pastor Krause began His sermon with a focus upon the Old Testament lesson from Leviticus. In this text God through Moses give the people a lot of instructions, a lot of commands regarding how they are to relate to one another. It also includes what Jesus in Matthew 22:39 calls “the second greatest commandment,” namely, that we are to “love one another as we love ourselves.”
In his message Pastor Krause shared how people generally don’t like being given commands and being told what to do, however, God’s commands are different. As I listened to Pastor Krause I was reminded of three other passages of Scripture. In Psalm 19:7-11 David writes:
The law Hereof the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul…. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Jesus tells His disciples in John 15:9-11:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
And John in 1 John 5:3 writes:
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
God’s commands are not burdensome when we know the One giving the commands. As we come to know God our trust in His love, His wisdom, and His power moves us to obedience (1 John 4:7-8). As a God who loves us so much that He would sent His Son to pay for our sins by suffering and dying in our place, it only makes sense to obey such a loving, wise, and powerful God (Romans 5:8).
God through the prophet Jeremiah tells us:
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This does not mean that if we trust and obey God we will never suffer. Jesus tells us in John 16:33:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Just as there was joy for Jesus beyond or in spite of the cross and His suffering (Hebrews 12:2), there is and will be joy for us.
To live life worthily (Colossians 1:10) is to live a life of love.
We get a glimpse of a life lived worthily in our gospel lesson. Luke 10:25-37 is the story known as “The Good Samaritan.” Here a man goes way above and beyond in order to care for a man society would have considered his enemy. Here a Samaritan man actively cares for and takes care of his enemy even as Jesus actively cares for and takes care of us, even though we may behave as His enemy.
Romans 5:6-8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
All too often you and I have failed to live a worthy life. We have not loved others as Jesus has loved and loves us. It is at this point I find comfort in the words of 1 John 2:1-2:
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense– Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
I pray that you too might find comfort in these verses. I also pray that you and I both might come to know HIM more so that through faith in His love, wisdom and power we might be led to increasingly obey and live worthy lives.
1 John 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
To know Jesus is to love Him. To love Him is to obey Him. Jesus make it increasingly so in my life.
Chime in with your thoughts and questions in the comment section!