Patterns of the Kingdom or Patterns of the World



Speaker 1:

Let us hear the scripture from today is from Psalm chapter eight, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is in is your name. In all the earth, you've set your glory in heavens. Through the praise of children and infants, you have established a stronghold against your enemies to silence the fae and the avenger. When I consider your heavens the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you're mindful of them human beings, that you care for them. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them the rulers over the works of your hands. You put everything under their feet, all flocks and herds in the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. All that swim, the paths of the seas. Lord, oh Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. You may be seated.

Speaker 2:

How are we today? Good, good. Well, since you asked, have had one of those days, sometimes when you wake up and you live some of your day, you think, well, maybe I should just go back to bed. Have you ever felt that way? But I did not. I Evelyn used to say in her kindergarten class, they talked a lot about perseverance and she would be proud of herself when she did something great or when something was hard and she kept going. She would say, I did the persevere. So that's what I have done today. I did the persevere. You might notice an error that I made this morning. I have been on a bit of a clumsy streak. So last week I broke a pitcher making thing, getting things ready for Sunday morning, and this week I broke the communion chalice. So we've got a clear one today, not the pretty ceramic one, but all good things must come to an end at some point.

So we've had that one around for a while and it's time for a new one I suppose, or a repaired one. The verdict is still out on that, but we got to keep going and today is actually on the church calendar, Trinity Sunday, which means the emphasis of this day is focusing on the Trinity. Now, you would think that perhaps the trinity would get three Sundays but only gets one. So today we are going to try and sum up the Trinity and make everyone Trinitarian experts, which is there. In my mind, there's no such thing and if anyone says to me that they can fully explain the Trinity or they fully understand it or they have no questions when it comes to it, I don't listen to anything else they have to say because they're not telling you the truth. There is mystery involved in the Trinity.

It is something that we can begin to understand, but we have no idea the depths of it. That's one of the reasons why we have the Trinity candle here. And if I'm not mistaken, this is our first Trinity Sunday, or maybe we did this last year at this time, I can't recall, but the Sunday with the Trinity candle, and that's one of the emphasis one, the churches today don't often have signs and symbols as much as we used to. Usually they are kind of plain and maybe a more industrial looking, but the church for years has had signs and symbols, reminders of God's grace, art and different things around. One of the reasons why we have candles flickering is to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. And so this is a sign and a symbol that just sort of helps us affirm the mystery that is the Holy Spirit. A part of what we say each time is that there are three wicks in one candle. It's the three in one. It's a flame that's burning and dancing together when you can see the flames, but it's never in competition with another. It's coming from the same source trying to help us understand the Father, son and Holy Spirit and how the three individual persons and also one person work together.

The one way in which we know the work of the Trinity, the one way in which we know that the Trinity is true, no matter if we can fully explain it or not, is by the work that the Trinity does, by the work that the Trinity does in our lives by the work that the Trinity does in lives around us. That is why we want to make sure that we are doing what we can to bear the fruit of the kingdom of God. Of course, we aren't the ones that bear the fruit. It is the work of the spirit in us, but we have to make ourselves available to the spirit in order for that fruit to be born in our lives. So the last couple of weeks we have been talking about prayer and contemplative prayer being silent. The scriptures are full of examples that encourage us to find silence.

God doesn't speak often through the thunder or the whirlwind or the earthquakes. We think that God's voice is there, but according to the scriptures, God's voice is in the small quiet still. Robert Mulholland, we're going to read a quote from him a little later. He was a professor at Asbury Seminary for a while. I've been rereading a book that he wrote I think back in the eighties, but he mentioned in that book that at our core, God is present, that when God created people in his image that the core of who people are is God. And so the time of sitting still is paying attention to that core. If we are always going, always doing, always having noise and distractions and things that take our attention away from the kingdom of God, then we will never learn to pay attention to God. That is the center of all existence.

And so learning to be still and silent and quiet is a way of us hearing and being attentive to God who is always with us. So as we've been talking about contemplative prayer and learning to be silent, we have said that there are three things that we are hoping to accomplish or that we are hoping are accomplished in us. Number one is that we would be with Jesus. For those of us who have a spouse, we know that at one point when we met that person, we had to spend time with them in order to advance our relationship. If you never spent time with the person who is your spouse, you wouldn't have a relationship. You could technically, I suppose be married to someone, be united to someone that you never spend time with, but if you never spend time with them, the relationship is not going anywhere.

You have to spend time with people in order to get to know them. Just like if someone walked in this room today and you wanted to get to know them, you wouldn't just never see them again or see them again just casually. You would enter into a relationship that means spending time together to get to know one another and God knows us, but we need to get to know God and that's what the work of the Holy Spirit is in us, and the purpose of getting to know Jesus is to be formed and to Jesus's image that scriptures are very clear about this, that our role in the world is to be formed into the image of Jesus. Have you ever heard someone say something like, after they have made a mistake, they say, well, what do you want from me? I'm only human, right?

Have you ever heard somebody say that? Maybe you have said that. I did not say that after I broke the communion chalice, but maybe I should also did not say anything that I had to ask for forgiveness for. So I was very measured in that moment. But when you say I'm only human, you aren't telling the story of what a human is because we know that Jesus is the fullest expression of what it means to be human. Jesus was the perfect human. He was the perfect person. And so when we are being formed into the image, we're not fighting against being human. We're learning to live out the humanity of Jesus. So we are formed into Jesus's image and the purp, the reason why we're formed into Jesus's image is so that we can do what Jesus did. And again, all of this fits into the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit working together because it, our lives are an expression of the work of the Trinity.

We have been trying to understand this within the framework of apprenticeship. If you were going to be a trades person of some sort, whether that would be a plumber or an electrician or a carpenter, or if you were going to be an artist or work at a coffee shop or work at a restaurant or really work anywhere, you have to go through a period of apprenticeship, right? You have to have somebody who has done the thing that you are trying to do to teach you, to lead you, and the best apprenticeships don't just give you a manual and say, go study this and do it right. The best apprenticeships, they show you how it's done. They invite you along to teach you what is happening through experience, and that is what we are called to in Jesus is an apprenticeship under the supervision of the Holy Spirit and through the practices that we know as spiritual disciplines, we are led deeper in our journey with Jesus being shaped by the Holy Spirit.

That is what we are called to do. We're going to read quickly from Matthew chapter 28. This is a scripture that probably you are familiar with in some form or fashion, but I want to read it again and we're really going to focus on the last verse in this section, but as we read this, I want to invite you to stand if you are able. The reason why we stand when we read the scripture is an acknowledgement of what the scripture is. It's similar to when someone walks into a room and you're seated and you stand up to greet them. We want to greet scripture and understand it for what it is to allow it to speak to us. These aren't just words that are read from a book. These are life altering, life shaping, life forming words, and so we want to be able to receive them to the fullest extent.

So here is what Jesus said. Now, keep in mind, I should have told you this before I asked you to stand out, but Jesus is offering these words to his first followers after he has spent all this time with them. He had been arrested and tried, sentenced to death, crucified on the cross, rose from the grave, and now he is giving command to his disciples, and here's what it says. Here's what he says. Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some what doubted, right? That's important to remember. We're going to come back to that. Then Jesus came to them and said, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, son and Holy Spirit.

We see Jesus referencing the Trinity there and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you to the very end of the age, you may be seated. Jesus is with us. That's why we greet each other on Sunday mornings by saying, Jesus is here by His spirit. He is here because Jesus is with us, and each day in which we live, because Jesus is with us, is an opportunity for us to live as Jesus commanded us. It's an opportunity for us to share of the good news of the kingdom of God, sometimes with our words, but at each and every moment with our actions, our lives testified to the kingdom of God by the fruit that we bear, and as the spirit works in our lives, we identify the patterns in our lives which detract from the fruit of the spirit, actions in our lives that we know as out of sync with the kingdom of God because of the fruit that they bear, the fruits of fear and judgment, anxiety, anger, envy, hostility, and when we identify these patterns or the actions that lead to these fruits, we then in place seek to learn the rhythms of Jesus, that bear the fruit of the kingdom of God.

As I said, we're going to read this quote from Robert Mulholland and here is what he says. Everyone is in the process of spiritual formation. Now, notice what he says there. Everyone, not Christians, not followers of Jesus, but everyone do we know what the word everyone means. It means everybody, right? So no matter if they acknowledge Jesus as their savior or not, everyone is in the process of spiritual formation. Every thought that we hold, every decision we make, every action we take, every emotion we allow to shape our behavior, every response we make to the world around us, every relationship we enter into every reaction we have toward the things that surround and impinge upon our lives. All these things little by little are shaping us into some kind of being. We are being shaped into either the wholeness of the image of Christ or a horribly destructive character of that image destructive not only to ourselves but also to others, for we inflict our brokenness upon them.

There's a lot going on in that quote, but the reality is that if everyone is being formed by the image of Jesus simul simultaneously, we are also everyone being formed by what Paul would call the patterns of the world. There's this dual going on in our lives trying to live according to the kingdom of God by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, and trying to not be shaped by the ways of the world in which we live or the patterns of the world and the patterns of our day. We don't do well with mystery, right? We don't do well with mystery. We want everything to have an explanation, and if we can't define something or measure it or understand it, then we dismiss it or discredit it because it's not possible for something to exist without us being able to understand it, right?

We view ourselves at the top of everything in our world, and if we can't explain something, then it probably doesn't exist or at least exist to the extent that somebody suggests, but when it comes to faith, we have to be able to make a leap from what we understand to what we tr and hope to be true, right? When we talk about being Christians, we don't call our trust in Jesus a Christian epistemology, which is a fancy word for truth or system of truth, right? That's not what it's called. It is called the Christian faith. Why? Because to be a follower of Jesus requires faith. Faith is not a naive belief, but a certain trust. That's not a naive belief. It is a certain trust. Faith is not a blind leap, but it's trusting Jesus enough to journey forward. Elton Trueblood, who I think was a chaplain at maybe Stanford or one of the prestigious universities a while back, here's what he says about faith.

He says, faith is not believe without proof, but trust without reservations. You see, just as we will never be able to fully understand or comprehend the Trinity, it is a mystery that we live into. We can't always explain elements of our faith either. There comes a point to where we have to trust that what we know or what we are experiencing is true, whether we can offer an explanation for it or not, and that trust is motivated in us by the work of the Holy Spirit, and so we learn to trust in Jesus, not because everything goes the way that we want it to or not because we have all of the answers, but because we understand that the patterns contrary to the way of Jesus are what is actually weighing us down. What Jesus promised his first followers before he died and was resurrected, we have to remember, it didn't make sense to them at the time.

Jesus even acknowledged that. He says, what I am telling you now is not going to make sense to you, but because we live looking back and because as the saying goes, hindsight is 2020, we think that that because they are the disciples and people who we revere so much that of course they trusted in what Jesus told them, but the reality is there's no of course about it. We even read earlier that there were some in the ranks that what doubted, right? They didn't know whether what they were trying to trust in was actually true or not. Those who trusted, think about this. They trusted without church history, right? We have some 2000 years of records of people who have trusted and their understanding of Jesus and their record of that trusting they didn't have the New Testament, right? Matthew, mark, Luke, and John weren't there, the epistles, they weren't there.

They didn't have the New Testament to confirm who Jesus is, and they at the time did not understand the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, right? For we have not yet got to the day of Pentecost, which we talked about last week, if the first followers of Jesus operated under our patterns of having to have all of the evidence and the facts laid out and everything understood before we can move forward, if that was the case for the disciples, most likely they would have crumbled at Pentecost. Jesus is promised to send an advocate that's going to help clear everything up, comes to fruition, and all that Jesus commanded of his followers is now possible through the work of the Spirit. As we talked about last week, the systems of the world require perfection with no means of discipleship. It's be perfect, but we're not going to do anything to help you get there. You just have to get there. And on the other side of that coin, the patterns of this world tend to form people in the opposite direction of perfection. So we say be perfect. The patterns that we ascribe to in our world lead us to the opposite of being perfect, and then when people do what they are set up to do, which is fail, we pile on them and tell them how miserable of people they are.

Jesus accused the religious leaders of his day of this same pattern. They emphasized a way of life to live, but had no mode of help to get people there, and they themselves were not willing to help people get there. This is what the scriptures teach us is understood as self righteousness. It's relying on yourself to be righteous. It's relying on yourself to be perfect, but as we know, that is not possible when you rely on yourself to be perfect and to do everything perfectly, that is self-righteousness or as Jesus accused the Pharisees, he called it the righteousness of the Pharisees, not the righteousness of God, the righteousness of the Pharisees Jesus. This is recorded of Jesus saying this in Matthew chapter 23, and here is what Jesus says. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees, they sit in Moses' seat. Now, Jesus says this because he's saying they have authority, right? The Pharisees, the teachers of the law, they have been given authority, so you must be careful to do everything they tell you. Stop reading, don't read ahead, okay? You have to be careful to do everything that they tell you. They have authority. Jesus is not questioning their authority. He's not questioning whether they know the scriptures. He's not saying that they don't know what they're talking about. He's saying they have authority. You have to be careful to do everything that they tell you, but

Now you can keep reading. Do not do what they do for they do not practice what they preach.

They tie up cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Jesus is talking about the Pharisees in this moment, but I think that that could be a great synopsis of the patterns of the world in which we live today, the expectation of perfection, but no means to get us there. Jesus will not do the same. Now, to be clear, Jesus does set the bar high. Apprenticeship in Jesus isn't easy. It requires discipline and steadfastness, but we don't do any of it on our own. We follow the way of Jesus by learning to respond to the Holy Spirit, which leads us in the way of Jesus. We are not left to our own righteousness, and Jesus doesn't just offer us help through the Spirit. He forms us at our core to be as Jesus commanded.

Do we understand today that as the scriptures teach the same God who created the universe, who blessed a human being with his presence in the form of Jesus, that that same spirit, that same exact spirit, not a version of the Spirit, not a Spirit 2.0, not a watered down spirit, but the same spirit as Paul says, that raised Jesus from the dead is in you. That same spirit is in your being. Now, all I can do is speak that I cannot explain that I cannot give you a full concrete definition that is going to help you understand that that is the truth. All I can do is encourage you to explore it and watch as it becomes more and more true in your life, the more you respond to the spirits leading Jesus said to us, go and teach and as you go, I am with you.

How many times does it cross our mind that it is actually true that Jesus is with us? Now, I remember when I was a kid, my Sunday school teacher once told me that I need to be careful what I do because Jesus is always watching and we can look at it that way, or we could understand it in the way that it was meant to be understood that Jesus is with us. So when we are attentive to the work that Jesus is calling us to, then we are formed into ways that lead to us living and being the fullest humans that we can possibly Sibley be, that we could be people full of love, joy, and peace, and patience and kindness and goodness, and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control. Isn't that a great promise? Isn't that a great truth? If we could just learn to trust it this morning, we are here gathered together today to as one voice confess that we trust in Jesus and my hope for us coming off of Pentecost, seeking to understand the work of the Trinity in our lives, the work of the Father, son, and Holy Spirit.

My prayer for us is that we will begin to go boldly into each day knowing that we are not doing this alone, and that at any moment when there is fear or judgment or hostility or envy, that we are temp tempted, and these ways we will be able to identify it as quickly as possible so that we can be reminded that Jesus is here and whatever is causing those patterns of the world to mature or blossom in our lives, that it pales in comparison when it comes to the power of the Holy Spirit within us.