This is my written text for my sermon on July 2, based on the text of 2Corinthians 4:1-15, as part of our series on 2Corinthians and how we can talk about our faith.
How do you talk about the importance of Jesus Christ in your life?
DO YOU talk about the importance of Jesus Christ in your life?
I guess the reason that I answered the call to ministry is because I felt the need to talk about the importance of Jesus Christ in my life. I wanted, actually, I think I needed, to tell others that you don’t have to try to do it all by yourself. In fact, thinking you can do it by yourself, that you can do it by yourself is the second most self-destructive thing in the world. The most destructive is that you are not loved, but that tends to come from thinking you can do it by yourself and realizing you’ve failed.
I believe it is easiest to talk about Jesus to those who have hit a bottom in their lives. They may not have hit THE bottom, but if you’ve crashed into A bottom, you can relate.
I hadn’t realized it until I was typing on my computer last night that this lesson is ideal for this weekend. Tuesday we celebrate Independence Day. A day when the fathers of this country declared their independence from Great Britain.
Unfortunately, too many of us think that we declared our total independence. That we are on our own. That we are self-made, and if we fail, it is our own fault. This mindset holds that whether you fail or succeed, it is all up to you.
The fault in that thinking is that we are not independent, but in fact, we are interdependent. We are all interconnected, and rely upon one another for support, encouragement, help and sustenance.
We hold up those who succeed or do well. We ignore those who suffer or fail. We do so forgetting, or repressing, that the Son of God, the Word of God who spoke the universe into creation, showed his power in his powerlessness. He gave totally of himself by giving his life, to suffer and die on a cross as a way to show us that we cannot lose God’s love, no matter how hard we try.
This is the veil that Paul writes about, blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Those who haven’t put their faith in God don’t understand that in the face of total rejection, Christ spoke of forgiveness, not wrath; mercy, not wrath.
The shameful things we hide are the sin of our pride. We think we can do it all, and do it all on our own. But in our failure, we discover that we were never meant to do it ourselves. God wants us to realize that we are loved, and to trust in that love.
If you’ve never hit a bottom, then you are fortunate. But when you have, when you realize what a mess you have made, when you are in the deepest darkest hole, having light shine out of darkness, having light shone in our hearts is an unexpected miracle.
I’m going to use an analogy, and a poor one, but one to which I think everyone can relate. If you’ve ever received a nasty sunburn, or a regular burn, you know how continuously painful it is. A sunburn that makes your skin as red as an apple is painful to the touch, to the breath, and even to the sight. But when you put on ointment, ointment from a tube sitting at room temperature, the relief feels like it has been sitting in the freezer for days.
That is the relief of the mercy of God to one who has realized their sorry, sinful state, the love to one at the bottom who feels incapable of being loved. The salve of a healing ointment to the burning pain in your soul.
This peace, mercy and forgiveness, the power of love itself doesn’t come to us in glory, but out of a defeat on the cross. The treasure of the universe isn’t in a golden box, but in a simple clay jar. It comes in the simple means of a kindness when one isn’t expected. It comes in a gesture of love to someone who is unloved. It comes in doing something for no benefit to yourself but to see a smile on someone else’s face.
Having received that means of kindness, that gesture of love, that gift received that makes you smile, you see the light shining in the darkness, and you know that you are not alone.
Christ summarized the commandments by telling us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, and to love our neighbors, to love one another as we do ourselves. We are to put God at the heart and center of all that we do, and to care about each other with the care we have for ourselves.
That doesn’t seem much like independence to me. It seems like we are all dependent upon each other, and especially upon God.
We do this by carrying in our bodies the body of Christ. Not the victorious Christ, but the Christ crucified and raised; the one who has defeated what we let separate us from God, our mortality – our disobedience and death.
Death is at work in us, but if you accept the love of God and share it with others, then life is at work in you.
So, how do you talk about the importance of Jesus Christ in your life?
You let the life of Jesus be made visible in our mortal flesh. You love, and show love. You reflect love in all you do and say.
You speak words of encouragement, and not despair. You speak words of hope, and not bitterness. You speak words of grace, and not anger. You speak words of love.
I believed, and so I spoke. We also believe, and so we speak. Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
ONE in Christ
on Social Media
Our Savior's Facebook
Our Savior's / Emmanuel: 715-267-6142
Nazareth's Office: 715-229-2051
is at 8:00 a.m.
is at 9:30 a.m.
is at 11:00 a.m.