Living Christmas

Dec 30, 2018 by: Sam Hestorff| Series: Home for Christmas
Scripture: Matthew 7:25–7:27

Last week, we talked about the value of just showing up, of being present, even when you think you’re too busy, life is too hectic, or you just don’t feel like it - because sometimes when you just show up, you will find yourself at the right place, at the right time . . . and it might change the trajectory of your life.

But there’s something else I want you to think about . . . sometimes when you just show up, you’ll find yourself with people who needed you to be present with them at that very moment.

You see, there is a direct connection between being present and relationship. 

God knew the value of just showing up. God didn’t just create the world then sit back and watch it spin and say, “Isn’t that interesting.”  He acts and intervenes in the lives of people like us, revealing both his love and his power.  His most definitive act was sending his Son, Jesus, to be present with us.

So, when you read the narrative of scripture, what you see is this amazing story of God being present with his people in order to strengthen the relationship between them.

The pattern is this . . . relationship built on trust followed by rules/guidelines/covenant.

In other words, “Now that I’ve revealed myself to you, and we’ve established a trust-based relationship with one another, here’s how we will live in that relationship.” 

Let me show you what I’m talking about . . .

In the beginning, God created humanity out of his own image and placed them in the garden where they had a relationship built on trust and an understanding that you are the creator and I am the created and that everything You do is for the good.

God gave them rules as to how they would live in relationship with one another in the Garden.

And the break between God and humanity wasn’t because they did 3 out of 4, so God said, “Too bad, so sad . . . now get out.”  The thing that broke the relationship was our refusal to trust God. 

And ever since then, God has been reworking the trust thing.

In the Old Testament, God created the nation of Israel to show the rest of the world what it was like to be in relationship with Him.  And long before he gave the ten commandments . . . he reached into Egypt and said to Israel “Trust me and let me deliver you out bondage.”

And when he did, they were like, “Wow, what a great God!  We trust you.”

Once they had established a trust-based relationship, God said . . . “Now, here are some rules that will help us deepen our relationship with one another.”

So, when we get to the New Testament, we shouldn’t be surprised that the driving message is God saying, “I want you to put your trust in me because I’m trying to re-establish a relationship between us.”

So, if you were to ask me what I think God is doing in your life or where is God leading you . . . I can always tell you that he’s trying to teach you to trust him because that is the essence of relationship. 

And I believe that trust begins with just showing up, being present with God and with one another as Jesus was present with us.

So today, we are going to build off this idea of just showing up and talk about what do you do when you get there.

Let’s listen to our text this morning . . . READ Matthew 7:24-27

Jesus is at a point in his ministry that he is exceedingly busy!

Everywhere he went, people just showed up; some are hurt, some are tired, some are sick and in pain, some fought with demons, some were broken and addicted, and many have been looked down on by the church and sent to the fringes of society. 

When Jesus saw all the people just showing up, he went up on a mountain and he sat down to teach them.  He began, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.  Blessed are those who mourn.  Blessed are the meek. “ 

On and on he went, naming many of the desperate situations in which those people found themselves and saying the most radical thing . . . In the painful, desperate, hopeless parts of life, you are blessed.

And then he goes on, not only are you blessed but you are the salt of the earth and light of the world.

In other words, they were people standing in the need of God.  And standing in the need of God is the way toward blessedness because in those broken cracks of our lives, we are able to let God’s light in to bless us and make us whole.  

And it’s those same cracks that allow God’s light out as we become salt and light, pointing others toward hope and life through Jesus . . . Isn’t that beautiful?  That’s the beauty in just showing up.

But then . . . Jesus got real.

This section is known as the “re-writing of the Law” but Jesus makes it clear that he didn’t come to re-write the law but rather he came to fulfill it.  Hang on to that because we’ll swing back to it later.

He starts out each of these sections by saying, “You heard it said back in the day, but I’m saying . . .”

Basically, Jesus is calling the people back to the image of Moses and the 10 commandments.  But the 10 Commandments were old news for the people gathered on that mountain with Jesus.

Yes, the 10 commandments were the Law, but people felt disconnected from them because the religious guys had prioritized law over relationship.  So, these words, which were designed to deepen the relationship with God had become the cause of much of their pain.

So, Jesus comes in and shakes it up to re-connect people to God and throughout this passage, he echoes the words found in Micah 6:8; “Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.”

He starts his instructional guide with the topic of murder. Pretty much gets straight to it.

Don’t murder each other; that’s a given. But also . . . if you’re angry with one another, deal with it.

Don’t call each other names . . . or talk about each other behind their back or post negative things about each other on social media . . . but deal with your issue. 

 

In fact, if you show up to church (because Sam made you feel guilty after he told you that it’s important to just show up) and the offering plate comes around and you have anger towards someone, don’t put anything in the plate but get up and find that person you’re angry with and work things out with them and then come back to church and work things out with God.

After his words about murder, Jesus moves on to the next exciting topic: adultery, divorce and lust! This section does not rank high on Jesus’ most loved sayings.

But what He is saying is that relationships are important so do the work to strengthen them.

  • Don’t cheat on your spouse.
  • And if you do get a divorce, treat the other person in the honorable way.
  • And if you look at another person with the intent of violating them-you know better.
  • Come on man, get it together.

Also, when you say you’re going to do something . . . do it!

  • If you say yes, then respond with yes.
  • If you say no, then respond with no.

In other words, don’t reply “maybe” on an Evite.  We all know what that means- you’re just waiting to see if something better comes along . . . don’t do that!  You’re not being honest and that doesn’t build relationships rooted in trust.  You need to show up!!

Finally, he gets into a little love language, thank goodness.  Live generously with what you have been given—live in a way that doesn’t make sense.  

If someone annoys you and you consider that person an enemy, guess what . . . don’t hate them, or carry a grudge against them but rather love them and pray for them.  

Let them bring out the best in you as you proactively work to bring about reconciliation and redemption through the brokenness of the relationship.

When you do this, that’s when you’re living out of your blessedness.  That’s when you’re living as salt and light.

This whole section of scripture is about broken relationships . . . and God wooing people back in to a trust-based relationship with him and with each other.

What makes our world more like the Kingdom of God . . . is when we decide to live out of our blessedness . . . which offers salt and light and God’s love and grace to the world.  And all of this begins by just showing up.

Our most basic call as people of God is to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.

He wraps it up with the words we heard read earlier . . .

Everyone who hears these words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

You can’t just show up to church and listen to the sermon and say “Man, I’m really glad I showed up today, that really spoke to me” somehow thinking that attendance is what makes the difference.

Jesus is saying, “If you don’t do this stuff, it’s not going to make any difference because the thing that is going to build your relationships between God and one another is not simply showing up and being moved by the words your heard . . . it’s doing something with it.”

I mean, it’s kind of like believing in exercise and showing up to the gym, or buying really-cool exercise clothes, or wearing yoga pants everywhere you go . . . but it isn’t going to do one bit of good until you apply it.

You’ve got to show up and apply it. 

If you don’t apply it, you’re like the one who has built their entire life on a foundation that will not survive a storm.  It may look perfect for a few days, weeks, months, or years but eventually something is going to come along and undermine it.

But everyone who shows up and hears the words of Jesus and puts them in to practice is like a wise man, woman, teenager, student, senior adult, single adult, young married, engaged adult who builds their house on a solid foundation. 

But here’s the deal . . . this stuff is hard, isn’t it?  There are times that what he is asking of us seems impossible.  And I think that’s the point.

Remember what I said earlier? Jesus didn’t come to re-write the law or get rid of the law . . . he came to fulfill the law.  And he did that by showing up, living among us, and dying for us.

And when we are broken, when we are standing in the need of God . . . we are on the path toward blessedness because it is in those broken cracks of our lives that we are able to let God’s light in to bless us and make us whole. 

And it’s those same cracks that allow God’s light out as we become salt and light, pointing others toward hope and life through Jesus . . .  You see, just showing up doesn’t just change the trajectory of your life, your presence might be exactly what someone else needed in their life in that very moment.

So, when life gets difficult, hectic, or overwhelming and you don’t think you can just show up . . . do it anyway.  And when you think there’s no way you can live up to these rules and guidelines that God put in place to strengthen our relationships, you will be drawn back to the cross because that is the foundation upon which we build.  And as you lean heavily into the cross, your relationship will grow even deeper as you become salt and light for one another.

I leave you with a tagline once used by World Vision . . . “You have one life, do something” let the broken cracks of our lives that have been made whole by the presence of Jesus become the salt and the light for one another.

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