Sermon – June 2, 2019
Ecclesiastes states that all seasons are under God’s control and direction – not just the calendar seasons, but the events that befall all of us. Our times of joy, anger, lament, praise, war, peace; all of these are under God’s sovereign plan. Christians often face different dilemmas depending on the times of God’s control: times when all seems well and peaceful, and times when it seems the beast rages uncontrollably against us. As we look again at John 7:1-13, let us see a warning about our own times, as we think through how we live out our faith in this world. How should we walk faithfully in the world?
1. Jesus verses the world
Jesus tells the brothers that he can’t go up, and while there appear to be many reasons, one of them is that the world hates him (v. 7). This statement is somewhat odd, given that many in the passage don’t seem to hate him at all. The brothers, his disciples (even the lapsed ones), the 12, even some of those in Jerusalem likely all think well of him. Yet, Jesus understands the world rightly. In the end, either you are for him or you are against him. Do not be deceived into thinking that there is a middle ground, friend. Either you stand with the world, or you stand with Christ.
2. Christians with the world
While the world hates Jesus, because he calls their deeds evil, the brothers cannot be hated by the world. They get along just fine, thanks. They don’t particularly believe the world’s deeds are evil, and they certainly don’t call them that. They are deceived into thinking that they can cozy up to Jesus and be at home in the world. Friend, do not make this mistake. Each day you will be pressed into making a decision. Why am I scheduling this; why am I buying this; why am I doing this? As James, Jesus’ brother found out, you must at some point make a choice: Jesus or the world.
3. Christians against the world
The other main group here, the crowds in Jerusalem, think that they can slide under the radar of the oppressive authorities. Keep quiet, keep your head down, and you can survive. Although, truth be told, they won’t. Nicodemus simply reminds the authorities of the rule of law, and is shouted down and ridiculed. The man born blind in John 9 doesn’t go looking for trouble, but trouble finds him nevertheless. Persecution will find you out, friend. The devil always prowls around looking for prey.
So, let us be clear. America was never the great Christian country that many have made it to be. It is a grand mistake to have ever thought that it was, denies the true nature of the kingdom of heaven, and ignores the voices of many Christians who have been busy showing us the flies in the ointment. Also, let us be aware, persecution is coming. Whether for us or for our children, it is coming. So prepare yourself, and your children. Prepare them lest they fall to persecution – not to suffering it, but to avoiding it. Friends, if we don’t prepare them, if we don’t ready them, then they will deny publicly with force what we have long denied privately in weakness.