Pain Before Joy: October 14, 2018

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1 Pain Before Joy: October 14, 2018 The first thing Jesus points out In this definitive interaction With the Rich Young Man Is the man s use of the word Good. Good teacher. [1 God is Good] Jesus confronts him And says Why do you call me good? No one is good Except God alone. Now there are two ways to take this. First maybe Jesus is trying to clarify That God is different than PEOPLE All HUMANS lack inherent goodness. That only God is good. And all God flows from God God alone Therefore don t call me good. But the second way to interpret this interaction Is that Jesus is messing around with this guy Just a little bit. Last week We went to the Rockies game When they lost to the Milwaukee Brewers [2 Brewers Fan] Now I m not saying it s my wife s fault But here s a picture. You be the judge. Anyway We were at the retail resort Down the road Park Meadows to buy some Rockies gear... Standing in line to checkout And the young woman At the counter was distracted By a football game On the tv. Baylor was playing Kansas State I said oh are you a Kansas State fan. Janet nudged me

2 And pointed to her sweatshirt It said BU Baylor University. Duh. I said sorry I didn t see your shirt. She said I just graduated from Baylor In the spring And now I m going to seminary. I looked her in the eye and said Who in the world Would want to go to seminary? Immediately. Seriously two seconds passed And Janet who is the nice one said He s a pastor. He went to seminary. Has been a pastor for 25 years. The young woman laughed. A little. Wonder if Jesus was playing The same kind of game. Who you calling good? We all know Only God is good. What are you trying to say? Are you saying That I am good And since only God is good Ergo therefore dot dot dot Are you calling me God??? See... he is God. Then next in answer to the man s question Jesus lists off all the things That a good young man Ought to have done. Apparently after he compared Jesus list To his own resume He felt pretty confident About what a good guy He had been in the past He said Yep. I ve done all those things Ever since I was a kid.

3 You know how sometimes You look back at your life And you make yourself the hero Of your own stories? I remember Back before American Ninja Warrior Back when I was a camper in Michigan We had makes-shift obstacle courses. Challenge courses we called them. There was one challenge that had stumps [3 Stump Jump] That were placed in front of a crossbar like a monkey bar The further away from the bar you went The taller the stumps were. The object was to stand on the first stump And jump and grab the bar. Then move to the second stump And so on Until you were standing on the last stump With no safety harness no ropes No common sense It was just you Out there on the ledge. It was death-defying it was terrifying But your friends made a human net They criss-crossed their arms to catch you If you missed. I remember how afraid I was To jump from the farthest stump And reach out to grab the bar. It took all my strength It took all my will power It took all my trust in my friends. But I jumped through the air and reached out And snagged the bar With my own hands. I was amazing. I was like a super hero. I was awesome. - A few years later I went back to the same camp As a counselor

4 Turns out That last stump Really wasn t that far. That far from the bar. I probably could have reached out And leaned And touched the bar. But it was HUGE. in my memory Some of that may be going on With this guy. [4 Jesus] He may have overestimated His past accomplishments He may have forgotten Some of the times That he didn t get it right. When he had broken God s law. He may be a hero In his own mind. But I seriously doubt It was true. No one could have done what Jesus said. No one kept all the commandments All the time. And besides Even if you thought You were totally awesome Do you really think It s a good idea To brag about how good you are To Jesus. The Son of God. - Anyway Then comes the best part. Jesus looked at him And thought This guy is full of it. Got no time for this bologna.

5 No he didn t. The text says Jesus looked at him And loved him. How beautiful is that. He loved him. Even though he was wrong. He loved him. Even though he was filled with pride. He loved him. Even though he didn t understand What it really meant to be a part Of the kingdom of God. And because Jesus loved him. He wanted to fix What was wrong With his heart. So he found the weak spot. And revealed it To the young man. He spoke the truth in love.. - You lack one thing. Or the way Jesus said it in the Mary and Martha story One thing is needful. Sell everything. Give the money to the poor. Then come follow me. Now do you think Jesus really want him to sell everything? Did Jesus really want him to follow him Right then and there? There are multiple stories in the Gospels Of Jesus healing someone And then they want to follow him And he says no stay here Do my work here. Would he really want this guy to follow him? What was Jesus trying to do To this rich young man? Is it just me Or did it used to be easier [5 Good Guys/Bad Guys] To tell the good guys From the bad guys.

6 Back in the 1950 s You could watch a western on tv And you know good or bad based On the color of hat That they wore. Back in WWII It was easy Because you could tell From what uniform they wore. So what about today. How do we know The good from the bad. Or more specifically How do I know If I am a good man How do you know If you are a good man or a good woman? What is the evidence That assures me That I am good. Is it that I believe The right ideas And stand behind them. Is it that I pay my taxes And vote on a regular basis. Is is that I change the oil in my car Every three months Is it that I donate To hurricane relief Or whatever disaster Is currently happening Somewhere in the world How do we tell who is good And who is bad. Well I would propose That kind thinking Is just too simple. That s a story We tell ourselves In order to make ourselves Feel better

7 About who we are And how we choose to live our lives. But it s the WRONG QUESTION. [6 Wrong Question] It s not about whether or not we are In a static state of goodness Or a static state of badness It s that life is in a constant flux And you and I react In all kinds of ways To what we are experiencing And sometimes are reactions Are good and holy and right And sometimes are reactions are just plain bad Sometimes we are wrong. And are confident and adamant About ourselves Even in our wrongness It s not that the rich young man was bad or good. It s the fact that he built his life Around the prideful assumption That he WAS good. And that it was a done deal. He had done everything the law required. He had been a good boy His whole life long,. He was practically perfectly Never wrong. Never a mistake. Never a misstep. He was A-OK. In his own mind. And it just was NOT true. He had one OBVIOUS weakness. He loved his money his things his stuff More than he loved God. Simple choice. Just wrong. So Jesus poked him in the eye. Not literally. Figuratively Poked him in the eye.

8 Jesus emphasized the young man s weakness In order to reveal to him HIS NEED FOR GOD. - Now this is going to be hard for you to believe But sometimes not here But sometimes in some places Pastors get harassed By the people of the church. That was happening to a friend of mine. And after he told me the story And how the people were treating him And had all these unreasonable expectations of him [7 All We Need] A song popped into my head so I sang ALL WE NEED IS LAW [is that how it goes] NO! But sometimes We want the law of God Over and above The love of God. If I can point to the Law If I can pretend to fulfill it Then I am good in my own mind And those who fail to fulfill the law are bad. And it quietly implied Because I do what is right All the time God loves me BUT God thinks you re a big loser. The LAW says I can accomplish The goal of being a good person And I will be rewarded by God. I can do it. - The gospel is different. The gospel says I cannot do it. I m not perfect And neither are you. And that s what we have in common. We both have needs. And that s where Jesus comes in. And fills the gap. He loves us Even though we are not perfect.

9 He does it all For me. And for you. - And the person who lives by the GOSPEL says [8 The Gospel] I know who I am. I need you Lord. If I am left to my own devices I have no hope. The GOSPEL says I don t need to be right. I don t need to be powerful. I don t need to have money or stuff. I don t need any of those things. I need God. One thing is needful. God. Alone. Now finally a lot of people think This is a sad story. That Jesus was a big old meany. Made the young guy upset. And he went away GRIEVING. But that s the function of the Law. To reveal our need for Christ.. But the law is not the end. It s the means To a greater end. To the Gospel. Jesus revealed to the young man His one thing That was needful. So that... he would DESPAIR... Of his own ability To be righteous And rely on God s gift Of love and mercy. - The word for grieving in today s story Jesus used the same word In the gospel of John 16:20 The word is lypeō. Jesus said [9 Grief to Joy] To his disciples You will have grief, But your pain will turn into joy.

10 The word for grief is the same as the word in our story today. You will have grief. Before you have joy. Because it s always hard To give up our pride To give up our control To die to ourselves. It s a major transition. A change. A pain. That leads ultimately TO JOY! - That leads us to A personal question of faith. Do you personally know What makes for a right relationship with God. It s not fulfilling the LAW It s understanding [10 Humble Yourself] That there is always something That is needful In your life. In your heart. In your soul. And it s nothing you can fix On your own. - If you know that you are broken. Then just give up. Stop fighting. Stop pretending. Stop acting like you re ok. God does not need you to be ok. God needs you to come back to God Bring your brokenness. Bring your sordid past. Bring your sin and mistakes. Bring your broken heart. Bring your need to seek revenge. Bring you hate of other people. Bring your guilt. Bring your shame. Bring your heart. And lay it down.

11 - Admit your weakness In the presence of God And God will lift you up. God will make you right. God will love you in spite of yourself God will look at you The same way Jesus looked at the prideful young man. The same way you look at your spouse Or children Or grandchildren Or friends When they do something wrong. You don t hate them. You don t want to destroy them. You love them. You want them to know What they have done. Learn and grow From the experience. And then Live again. Same thing with you And me. That s how God looks at us. So if you have something to get straight with God If you need to admit your need Why not today? Why not Stop the pretense. Stop the nonsense. Stop all the things In your heart That have separated you from God. And grab on To the one thing That is needful Thanks be to God. Amen!

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