Sermons
Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

But What If? - May 19, 2019

Luke 6:46-49 When I was in high school, I worked in a True Value hardware store. I had fun meeting people and learned a ton about all kinds of hardware things. I learned to mix paint and cut keys. I learned about metric and standard bolts, and plumbing and electrical parts, including which ends were male and female and the difference between threaded and slip. I also learned to try and decipher what people meant when they came in and asked for a thing-a-ma-jig or a who-see-what’s-it. Literally. People ask for those things. And there’s not an easy one for one. So I’d have to ask, “Is that in plumbing or electrical?” It’s automotive! Ok….so we narrow the field and

at least knew which aisle to look on. Which is to say, sometimes it was confusing.
So one day, after I had substantial time working there, a man walks in and asks for a mailbox. A male box? And I’m standing there trying to figure out where I would find a male box, and if there’s a male box, what kind of female box there is.
Me: A male box?
Him: a mailbox.
Me: What is that used for?
Him: Mail…

I was so confused. I was so used to puzzling out what people actually needed that I was taking something really simple and making it complex. Finally, this poor man who probably thought I was the densest employee ever exclaims, “A mailbox! Like for that postman brings you!” And it dawns on me, “Oh!!!!! A mailbox!!” (it was like, why didn’t you say that!!??) Those are on aisle 5 half way down on your left.

It was not my most shining moment, but in addition to making sure you don’t think too highly of your pastor, it also shows you that sometimes our expectations can crowd out clarity. When we are used to working and working at something, we can’t suddenly flip and imagine it will be simple.
As we’ve been working through the parables we’ve seen they can be tricky. They can have layers of meaning, and sometimes the thing you think they are about is not really what they are about. And other times the things you’ve thought you’ve always known to be true is found to be faulty and broken. And sometimes….they’re pretty straightforward.
Today’s passage is one of those. It’s a mailbox.

Jesus basically says this, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ when you don’t follow my words. See the person who comes to me, listens to my words, and does what I say is like a man who built his house upon the rock—he worked and worked to dig down past the sand and dirt to the bedrock and then built his house up from there. We all know that’s the best way to build. Sure, it takes a lot of work, but you know it’s done right. It’s solid. You dig deep. Then you build up. Then when the storms come, and the storms always come, the house stands strong.”
It’s so simple!!! But knowing the parables can be more complex, we could go about puzzling or we could parse every word, or…we could pause and see there are no tricks or turns that challenge a straight reading of this parable. Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!!! But I have to confess, that as someone who has been going over and over the readings for this series trying to puzzle them out, I’m a little skeptical…how could the others be so hard and this one so easy?!!? Is it a trick? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think the hard part of this parable is in living it out.
Jesus is saying, to be like the wise builder you have to do the hard work….you have to DO what I tell you to do. The trick is in daily living, not in untangling the message. It’s not enough to hear Jesus. It’s not enough to appreciate what he’s getting at. We have to actually do it. Otherwise, we’re like the other builder, the one who built his house on the sand. It was quick and easy compared to the other guy, but it wasn’t solid, so when the storm came, as they always do, the house fell apart. So it is for us when we only listen to Jesus but don’t follow him with our deeds.
So what do we have to do?! We could pull on any number of Jesus’ lessons, but for simplicity, we’ll pull on what he was teaching THIS crowd with whom he shared the parable. I venture much of it will sound familiar:
• Love your enemies.
• Do good to those who hate you.
• Bless those who curse you.
• Pray for those who mistreat you
• Give what is asked of you
• Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
• Do not judge
• Do not condemn
• Forgive
Sound familiar? Straight forward, but not easy. What Jesus tells us is worthy is obedience. That’s the order of the day. And it’s not obedience for obedience sake. Obedience is the hard work that secures our foundation and allows us to weather the storms. Obedience leads to our own preservation and protection. It’s good for us. Jesus isn’t some dictator trying to prove he can make people bow down and obey. He’s a protector and a friend, an ally who cares about us—genuinely and wholeheartedly. He’s looking out for us when he gives us these rules to live by.
It’s simple and straightforward, but definitely not easy. And I think I need to say this….all too often as Christians we find it far too easy to start wagging our finger and acting like we’re the city inspector. Oh….you didn’t dig deep enough. Oh, you’re not following Jesus there. Oh, you’re too sinful there. Oh, you need to repent about that. Oh, you need to watch your tongue on that. You know, Jesus said you need to do the hard work to have a solid foundation, I’m just looking out for you. We are not asked to be the behavior police. Jesus isn’t saying, “Please make sure other people are doing what you think is right…because that makes us more hearers of the word than doers. Jesus says “you, yes, you as an individual, you, do you. You stop judging people. You stop condemning them. You forgive them. Oh, they’re your enemy? They’ve broken you and mistreated you?! Great. Love them. Show them, my abundant unconditional agape love. Oh, they cursed you? Great, now you know what to do for them….bless them. The task is ours to do. And if we dare to be confused on the issue, we don’t have to go far, since in this same teaching Jesus gives us this bit of wisdom, “Why do you look at the spec of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? First, take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the plank out of your brother’s eye.” As long as you are working out your own salvation—digging your own foundation, then you don’t have time to be messing with someone else’s.
We may want to protect them…we’re all compassionate and good-hearted with the best of intentions, I’m sure….but we can’t do their Jesus following for them. They have to choose to do the hard work or not. That’s their choice. It’s my choice. It’s his choice. It’s her choice. Does Jesus want us to make the choice? Absolutely. For ourselves. To be our best selves. And maybe, maybe, but only maybe, when the storm comes and you survive, a little disheveled, but still standing, and someone else doesn’t, maybe they might ask you how you did it, and then you can share about the hard work. Maybe. But for now, focus your attention on your own foundation, your own following of the words of Jesus.

 

Current Church News

  • Worship Time Change - starts - August 18th

    Starting August 18th, 2019 Sunday Worship go back to our regular worship time at 10:30 am Sunday mornings.

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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary. William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

322 East Third Street
Moscow, ID 83843

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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...