11 May 2014 – Mothers’ Day message

Readings:

 1 Peter 1:17-23;  John 15:9-12

Message

I thought we could start today with a job advert. You may enjoy this – especially if you have had some difficult job interviews like me.

Interview

Yes we need to salute mothers. Especially because of the laws that operate in the world of mothering or parenting in general. Here they are:

“Murphy’s Laws of Parenting.” See if you can identify with any of these:

1. The later you stay up, the earlier your child will wake up the next morning.

2. The gooier the food, the more likely it is to end up on the carpet.

3. The longer it takes you to make a meal, the less your child will like it.

4. A sure way to get something done is to tell a child not to do it.

5. For a child to become clean, something else must become dirty.

6. Toys multiply to fill any space available.

7. Yours is always the only child who doesn’t behave.

8. If the shoe fits . . . it’s expensive.

9. Backing the car out of the driveway causes your child to have to go to the bathroom.

A story then to bring us back to biblical truth:

I came across the story of Mary Jane Kurtz. Mary Jane says that when she was a young, single mom with four children, it was difficult to get them all ready for church on Sunday. One particular Sunday morning as the children started to complain and squabble, Mary Jane stomped from one room to the other, saying out loud why it was important they go to church as a family and have a good attitude. Suddenly, she noticed all four children huddled together and laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Mary Jane asked.

“Mom,” they said, “every time you slam down your foot, smoke comes out. It must be the wrath of God!”

In reality, it was the powder Mary Jane had sprinkled in her shoes. But it worked. She says they made it to church on time that morning and practically every Sunday thereafter.

Edward K. Rowell, 1001 Quotes, Illustrations, and Humorous Stories (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing, 2008), p. 330.)

We know that ordinarily stamping your feet does not get the results you want in any part of life. Certainly not at work – not in the church – and especially not in family relationships.

In fact the standard for relationships in the Christian community is quite high.  Today’s reading from Peter is a case in point:

1Pe 1:17  Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

1Pe 1:18  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,

1Pe 1:19  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

1Pe 1:20  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

1Pe 1:21  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

 1Pe 1:22  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1Pe 1:23  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 

Love one another deeply, from the heart – is a challenging requirement.   And Jesus lays it on thick too in the Gospel reading we heard: 

Joh 15:12  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

The Jesus’ love thing is simple – it’s the servant thing – the foot washing at the last supper being a model for this attitude. We know what it entails – but are not that great at it.

These are huge expectations to love has he loves – (Jesus) – and to love one another deeply – from the heart.

This stretches us – often making us feel rather guilty! The downside is that people don’t want to talk about the reality of their family life. It’s too messy and often worlds apart from the standard. Our matters of the heart – our deepest emotions – are sometimes rather painful!

“If you just knew my heart” you hear people saying. And rightly so. The prophet Jeremiah ominously noted many, many years ago:

(ESV)  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  (Jeremiah 17:9)

(ANV)  Die hart is bedriegliker as enigiets anders, hy is ongeneeslik; wie kan hom verstaan? 

ASV)  The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? 

(MSG)  “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. 

(NRSV)  The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse–who can understand it? 

You can see from the various translations that the prognosis is grim. How on earth is it possible for us to love one another deeply, from this kind of heart?

Well the context of this requirement gives us some insight into the process:

1Pe 1:22  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1Pe 1:23  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

You can’t really have sincere love for your brothers in the Christian family, or love one another deeply – from the heart – without the process of purifying yourself by obeying the truth.

1Pe 1:22  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 

Verse 22 can also be translated as:

(ESV)  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for asincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

Sincere love here is very specific. The word is ἀνυπόκριτος –  anupokritos (without hypocrisy). Unfeigned is the old word. Authentic.

It’s the one quality people seek today. And yes there are people seeking truth. They want down to earth genuine people to tell them. No bulldust.

And they can spot love that is pretence. Feigned, phoney.

And it fits with Jesus’ command in John 15: Love each other as I have loved you.

Jesus was clearly authentic – listen to these words written by an unknown author:

Jesus was the personification of love. He loved everyone whom He met. He reached out to the sick, the blind, the crippled, the lonely, the widows, the poor, the dishonest tax collector, the Roman officer, the children—everyone whom He encountered, He loved!

In my words now – He had huge issues with hypocrisy – warning against sounding your trumpet when you do a good dead, praying in public, fasting and showing off about it. You know the teaching – don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing – pray in secret – fast without looking miserable and so forth… 

In order to have this unfeigned or authentic love – Peter outlines two things that are needed:

  1. Purify our souls

The purification that Peter speaks of is in the context of the biblical understanding of holiness. In Levitical law purification the killing of a sacrificial animal and the sprinkling of blood on all that was to be cleansed (Lev 8:15) all that was holy (1Ch 23:28) the priests and Levite and even the people of God (Neh 12:30)

Peter is obviously referring us to the cleansing that we can experience through the precious blood of the Lamb without blemish and without spot who was foreordained before the foundation of the world (1Pe 1:19-20). That lamb is Jesus Christ.

He is very clear that the saviour is a sacrifice for our sins. His letter begins with these words:

1Pe 1:1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,

1Pe 1:2  who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

And of course in this passage:

1Pe 1:18  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,

1Pe 1:19  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

We need the cleansing – sprinkling of his blood to cleanse us! And then…

It’s interesting of course that we are to purify our souls – purify our lives through obedience to the truth! That means openness to do it God’s way. Because, Peter says: 

  1. You have been born again

1Pe 1:23  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

People always think of Jesus’ words in John’s gospel when they think of being “born again”.

Here it is in Peter as well. We are born again through the living and enduringword (logos) of God.

So when it comes to this matter of getting our hearts right.

The purification – the new birth – come from Him.

Without Him – we are in trouble.

With divine intervention – we can be changed.

If we let Him in – the Word of God, Jesus, and if we let His words cut into those deep places – things happen. The writer to the Hebrews puts it like this:

Heb_4:12  For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

THE SINCERE LOVE

The love without hypocrisy is a possibility. Through lives shaped by the Word of God – changed through the Word and the Spirit. God’s love becomes real in us and our communities.

  • It is unconditional love – without strings attached.
  • It is serving love – always there for you.
  • It sounds very much to me like a mother’s love is like this!
  • Maybe mothers have a foretaste of this love.
  • Maybe that’s why there are always more mums in church than dads.

But mums also need to stamp their feet like the mum with powder in her shoes!

The wrath of God in view!

Thank God for mothers who have guided us and prayed for us – and helped us to discover the grace of Jesus and His great love – the love that works out its purpose in us!

Praise God for mums!

Amen!

Advertisements

About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on May 11, 2014, in Sunday Morning Sermons and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: