The Federated Church of Marlborough
Marlborough, New Hampshire


  

    
Guest Sermon - May 7, 2017
Scripture Reading: Matthew 12:28-34
Sermon Title “Falling in Love with the Savior



Robert Sweet


      Have you ever been in love?  Did it happen all at once  or did it happen over a longer period of time?  Was it one of those “love at first sight” romances?  Or was it a case of “He or she seems nice.  I think I’d like to know him or her better”?  Was it a teen age infatuation like an internal infernal itch that you couldn’t scratch, one that wore off after a while?  Or was it a relationship that developed into a lasting commitment and dedication to another?  For married couples love changes dramatically between the first and sixty-fifth year of marriage.

     It strikes me that falling in love with a savior is much the same.  Some people have a religious experience where they can pinpoint the time and place when they felt the touch of God in their lives.  That moment is unlike anything else they have ever experienced.  Sometimes it is never forgotten and becomes the basis for a deep commitment to the Lord.  Some move on with life as it was and forget the momentary impact it had on their lives.


     Other people have a knowledge of Jesus, an acquaintance with God that develops over the years.  They have come to know Jesus through the ways others got to know him in the Bible accounts.  Eventually that knowledge develops into a relationship and commitment.  It often becomes an unspoken part of their lives.  This relationship with God becomes  the way they relate to other people.


     In the musical “Wicked” there is a duet between two friends who are about to part from each other.  They sing “Some say people come into our lives for a reason.  Because of you I’ve been changed for good….So much of me is what I learned from you…Because I know you I have been changed for good.”


      When we know Jesus we are changed for good.  From what we learn about him, from the way he lived for others, from meditating on his words we come to be committed to him.  Our first love may be an infatuation, but our life commitment to that love becomes a dedication.  So when we are committed to and dedicated to Jesus, I would suggest we are in love with our Savior.

 

     Can you think of people you have known who have changed your life for good?  Faces immediately flash before your mind., don’t they?   If I were to give you five minutes of silence, (which I’m not going to do), and ask you to name all those people, I suspect you would be flooded with memories of folks who have influenced you for good.  You would be surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  Their influence for good in your life depends on how well you have known each other, how familiar you have been, how intimate the sharing.  Sometimes that influence for good in your life is the result of that person knowing you and loving you, perhaps better than you know or love yourself.  It results from the commitment of that person to you.

 

     A new book reviews the tragic murder-suicide of 918 people in Guyana in 1978 under the leadership of a self-righteous, misguided religious leader, Jim Jones.  I began to think about the relationship between that leader and his followers in contrast to the leadership of Jesus and his followers.  The similarity is that the followers of both groups fell in love with their leader.

 

     Jones brought busloads of disciples to the inner city where he provided food, medical and dental services, and with all the theatrics of the modern stage he brought a message of hope to poor people who had lost hope.  Jesus rode into the city on a donkey bringing a message of love and compassion to a people oppressed by an occupying foreign power.

 

     But the apparent benevolence of Jim Jones was transformed into an ego trip that insisted unadulterated devotion to him and the rules he laid down, rules that brought glory, power, gratification to him and to him alone.  Jesus came as the self-effacing teacher challenging folks to love God and one another. 

 

     Jim Jones went center stage expecting all others to be subservient to him.  He wallowed in the mob enthusiasm and unquestioning devotion of those surrounding him, to the extent that they died obediently at his command.   Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and sacrificed his own life so that others might live.

 

     Jones went from victory to death.  Jesus went from death to victory.  Jones attributed kingly authority to himself.  It was only after death and resurrection that the disciples and Gospel writers attributed kingly authority to the one who rode the donkey into Jerusalem.

 

     The love of Jesus changes us and it changes the lives of those we meet.  We have the Scriptures and the community of faith to help us get acquainted with Jesus, to become intimate in sharing a relationship with him.  A lifetime of paying attention to him, of spending time in devotion, of joining with others in the worship of our Creator:   these practices  nurture and sustain our relationship with him. 

 

     It is in breaking bread and drinking the fruit of the vine that we are reminded that he knows and loves us better than we know and love ourselves.  It is in knowing him that our lives are changed for good.  So much of each of us is what we learn from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 


Amen.



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