Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dis-Orientation: The Invisible is Real

The audio of this sermon can be heard HERE.

“Ask… search… knock…” Such encouraging words! It will be given to you, you will find, the door will be opened to you. These are simple yet astounding promises from Jesus. In some ways it summarizes the Incarnation and Jesusministry: Turn to God he'll be there. Come to God—no matter who you are—and God will take you in. Extraordinary! And disorienting! Seek the invisible God and you'll find? How can anyone seek the invisible?

The invisible God works from God's invisible heavenly realm to bring his rule and power to bear in our visible lives in the visible world. In the beginning, our whole universe was in a hot, dense state—all the matter and energy in the known universe contained in a volume a trillionth the size of a period on a typed page. One million trillion trillion trillionths of a second after that appearance the universe began to expand unimaginably quickly. One million trillion trillion trillionths of a second before that beginning, God was therewilling it to be. As the writer of Hebrews wrote, what is seen was made from what is unseen(11:3). Or as Jesus put it, your Father in heaven.The Father of all is simultaneously within and outside all things, offering all we need for a good life.

I must confess that I dont always trust Gods goodness, and I'm probably not alone. Jesus seems to know this mistrust when he explains, If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!(Matt 7:11). Again, Jesus is asking us: “Do you really believe God is goodreally? If you do, then you will ask, search, and knock. You will leave behind the worlds empty promises and give your whole life to seek the good things of God. And God will always deliver! 
“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”  -CS Lewis
We are deceived by the visible world, spending our lives chasing after material wealth, physical pleasures and ease, power and the approval of people. Why? What is the better source of innovation and advancement and rallying people to work together for good: seeking material wealth and physical payoffs, or invisible things like hope, compassion, creativity, love, and faith? These are good things God promises us. You’ll have the material things you need. The question is, will they have you? Be honest: Do you think more people get to the end of life and regret the visible things they don’t have? Or do you think they regret the invisible things they missed out on—more love, more friendship, more compassion, more joy and happiness? And if someone says, “I wish I’d had a nicer car and a bigger house,” do you think they’re worth listening to anyway? 

But there's more...

Julian of Norwich (1342 - c.1416)
Living in England in the 14th century, Julian of Norwich experienced the terrible losses and suffering of the Black Plague, possibly even losing her own husband and children. When she was thirty, Julian herself fell ill and lay in a coma. During this time she had a ten-hour encounter with Jesus. Julian asked Jesus about all the suffering she and her loved ones and world were experiencing. Jesus repeatedly told Julian of his love for her and for the world, showing her very detailed images. The first image was Jesus suffering for the world on the cross. Another image was Jesus holding a hazelnut in his hand, saying that his life and love surround each of us like his hand surrounds the nut.

At one point, Jesus tells Julian a story: 

There was an assistant who worked for a remarkable boss. The assistant loved and admired his boss, following him everywhere and excitedly doing what he asked. One day, the assistant was walking along and fell in a deep, dark hole. Lying curled up in the hole, the assistant began to berate himself: “You foolish person,” he told himself. “That’s just like you to fall in a hole. Now you’ll probably die here, all alone in the dark. You’re so stupid!” While the assistant lay there in hopelessness and negativity, he was completely unaware that his loving boss was kneeling on the edge of the hole reaching down to help him out.
There is good invisible and there is bad invisible. In addition to the visible temptations and troubles of the world, we can get so distracted by the negative and harmful invisible thoughts and attitudes we hold, that we become completely unaware of our loving Lord reaching out to us to lead us into his light and life and love.

We must ask, seek, and knock for these good things, these God things. Seek and you'll find something truly amazing: Jesus leaning in, offering you the best of all invisible things—life, love, and God himself. And then you get the shocking, scandalous privilege of making those invisible things visible in the world.

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