Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Christ The King --- I was made for this

John 18:33-37    (NRSV)
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

A number of years ago, USA today put together a panel of sports experts to name the 10 most difficult things to do in sports.

I don't think it was a very scientific list --- but one that a group of wannabe athletes made based on what they know --- or at least on what they thought they knew.

10.   Downhill skiing
9.    Saving a penalty kick in soccer
8.    Competing in the Tour De France
7.    Running a Marathon
6.    Landing A Quad jump in Ice Skating
5.    Returning A Serve in Tennis
4.    Hitting A Tee Shot Long and Straight
3.    Pole Vaulting
2.    Race Car Driving
1.    Hitting a Baseball

What do you think?  
What would you change to the list?

I was surprised that golf was considered the 4th most difficult.

While that list is kind of fun --- at the end of the day -- it really isn't all that important.

But what if you were to make a list of the 10 most difficult things to do in life --- what would you put down?

If you were to search on the internet --- you would come up with all kinds of lists that all seemed based on where somebody was in life at that particular moment.

But if we were to try and create just a list, what would you include?

Here is my list --- but i want to admit I used other people's lists for ideas.

10.     Be-loving God in the midst of the challenges of life (keeping faith)
9.       Being a servant --- truly doing humanitarian deeds for no reward
8.       Raising children
7.       Forgiveness (accepting and giving)
6.       Regaining trust that had been lost
5.       Loving those you don't like
4.       Quitting an addiction ---- drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pornography
3.       Removing life support from a loved one
2.       Burying a child

The life list is a tough list --- and I changed it pretty much every time I went over it --- because they are all so difficult and important, --- but those last two — having to make decisions about life or death --- or losing a child or really any loved one — are really difficult!

If you have ever been in the position where you had to decide to allow someone to go into hospice care, or to remove life support --- even when your head knows what the right thing to do is--- it is a terrible choice.

Top world athletes, even on their hardest days, never make that kind of choice.

Those kinds of decisions are not what we expect life to be about!

Does anybody remember Tom Laughlin?

He was famous in the 70's as the writer, actor and director of the Billy Jack movies.

Later in life he began working with cancer patients, lecturing and treating the psychology of cancer.

Steven Pressfield, in his classic work: The War of Art spends quite a bit of time focusing on Tom Laughlin.

And the point that Laughlin makes is that:
The moment a person learns that they have a terminal cancer a profound shift takes place in their psyche.  At one stroke they becomes aware of what really matters

A simple tragic diagnosis is sometimes what it takes to help us understand what is of ultimate importance.
·         it's usually not another meeting
·         or a bigger car
·         or larger house
·         it's not even a bigger paycheck

Those things that were an irritation only days before the diagnosis seen no longer important

What matters most in our lives is . . . RELATIONSHIPS

Go back and look at my suggest list of the 9 hardest things to do (I haven’t given you my #1 yet)
---- Everyone of them is about relationships

Laughlin went on and posed an interesting question:
Is it possible that cancer is the result of our failure to live our lives the way that they were intended to be lived?

Could cancer be the result of our un-lived lives extracting their vengeance upon us?

You have to wonder . . .
Laughlin even suggested, that when people with cancer began to live their lives fully --- that sometimes the cancer would go into remission
While Laughlin suggests that --- I can find no scientific evidence proving his claims
But there may be some truth to it

What I do know is that for most of us --- the most difficult thing in the world is to live the life the way that they were intended to be lived the way that God intended for us.

And that would be the number one --- most difficult thing to do

1.    Live the life God intended for us

It is easier to fill it with other things
          Worldly pursuits
                   Chasing the Almighty dollar

It is easier to fill it with other things --- than to risk it all for what our insides (our spirit) keeps telling us to be.

At the end of the day ---- what holds us back more than anything else is FEAR

And as crazy as this sounds; what I think we are most fearful of is becoming what we are truly supposed to be.

Have you ever witnessed a baptism?

What takes place during a baptism?
If I were to try to explain what happens (and words can’t really do it), I would suggest that what happens at baptism is that we place a sign-post --- a marker on that person or child's life

A sign-post that says --- I acknowledge that I am a child of God

What will become of that child's life?
          Do any of us really know?

The one thing we do know is God has blessed that child with a calling
Our job, and that child's job --- is to help them figure out what that is --- and then to help them not to be afraid to pursue it.

Our scripture this morning is that key moment, when Jesus claims his calling.
          Jesus says that he is to be king of our lives
                   Lord of our lives

Today is Christ the King Sunday.

It is one of those days that doesn't seem to get celebrated in many Protestant Churches, but I understand it is always celebrated here at Meridian Street.

So I probably don't have to explain the significance

But I hate to assume, so maybe I should.

Quoting the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (PCUSA, 2003)
The festival of Christ the King (or Reign of Christ) ends our marking of Ordinary Time after the Day of Pentecost, and moves us to the threshold of Advent, the season of hope for Christ’s coming again at the end of time.

The day centers on the crucified and risen Christ, whom God exalted to rule over the whole universe. The celebration of the lordship of Christ thus looks back to Ascension, Easter, and Transfiguration, and points ahead to the appearing in glory of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Christ reigns supreme. Christ’s truth judges falsehood. As the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, Christ is the center of the universe, the ruler of all history, the judge of all people. In Christ all things began, and in Christ all things will be fulfilled. In the end, Christ will triumph over the forces of evil.

Such concepts as these cluster around the affirmation that Christ is King or Christ reigns! As sovereign ruler, Christ calls us to a loyalty that transcends every earthly claim on the human heart. To Christ alone belongs the supreme allegiance in our lives. Christ calls us to stand with those who in every age confessed, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” In every generation, demagogues emerge to claim an allegiance that belongs only to God. But Christ alone has the right to claim our highest loyalty. The blood of martyrs, past and present, witnesses to this truth.

Behold the glory of the eternal Christ! From the beginning of time to its ending, Christ rules above all earthly powers!

This is from the United Methodist Church:
Christ the King Sunday is a relative newcomer to the liturgical calendar, arriving only in the early twentieth century. At that time, many Christians in Mexico were suffering religious persecution from their anti-religious government, and secularism was rapidly gaining the upper hand in Europe. In 1925, the Roman Catholic Church declared this day as a worldwide celebration of the kingship of Christ over every earthly power.

Kingship is a problematic concept for democracies, and perhaps for none more than the United States. This nation’s founding and continuing political philosophy rejects kingship as a failure to understand what government is to be at its most basic level—governance with the consent of the governed. These Scriptures make clear, as does the ministry of Jesus, that God’s politics are not identifiable with those of democracies or typical kings.

So today we celebrate that Jesus is our King

Our primary allegiance is to God and God's Kingdom

And that is a scary thing.

Scary because it requires us to set aside our personal agendas, and even our corporate ones --- and instead seek God's

Isn't that what we pray every time we pray the Lord's Prayer?
“Thy Kingdom come”
“Thy will be done”

Jesus is our King

And our job is to be obedient to him

And what does that mean?
          Read the Gospels

          But in a nutshell
"what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"

The hardest task in life is not hitting a baseball --- it is accepting the calling that God has given us, and being obedient to it.

It was the challenge that Jesus faced in our scripture, when Pilate asked him: "Are you King of the Jews?"

What was Jesus answer?
That his Kingdom was not of this world --- it is the Kingdom of the creator of the universe

Was Jesus afraid to accept and pursue the calling that God gave him?
          I don't know
But Jesus announces and accepts this calling in the face of the reality that by doing so will cost him his life

If Jesus truly is King
If Jesus truly is Lord

What is it that God is wanting you to pursue?

What are you hesitating in being obedient too?

What have you been afraid of becoming?

If you are not familiar with Bob Goff, you need to get to know him.  He is a lawyer and teacher in California, but is also one who has learned obedience to his king

He has a great little book called LOVE DOES --- I highly recommend it.

I have had the privilege to meet Bob a couple of times

And one of Bob Goff's favorite phrases is one that has become very important to me:
          God sees who we are becoming, not who we were!

Let Jesus be King in your life.

And become obedient to the calling he has for you.
          doing justice
          loving kindness
          and walking humbly

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