Who is God? I Am The Light



Speaker 1:
Hear the word of the Lord. When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, I and the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks me to God. You may be seated.

Speaker 2:
I dunno what that was, but if you ever needed to pay attention, you knew you needed to in that moment. Have many of you ever had clothes in your wardrobe that went out of style? Probably none of us have had that experience. If you haven't had that experience, maybe look at the mirror when you get home your experience and just didn't know it. But if you keep your clothes in your closet long enough, they'll eventually come back around.

In my teenage years, bell bottoms may come back. Some other things have come back these days with high waist of jeans and different things, and maybe that's even out of style now. Who knows? But if you leave audio equipment, it'll also come back to be useful for you. So I made a commitment when we left our old building over on Manchester that we would never use these speakers or these microphones again because we always had so much trouble with them maybe is what we're having now. And here we're again. So we are very thankful for the fact that we have the ability to gather over here in the midst of a trying time with the air conditioner, maybe a couple of weeks or so, and that would be fixed. But in the meantime, we don't have to cancel service. We don't have to crowd in Miss Ho's home.

We can gather here relative comfort and without too much of an inconvenience. So if you ever took a psychology class, you would have at some point talked about the five basic needs of survival. There are five things that a human being has to have in order to survive. Now we're not talking about thriving, we're not talking about making something of your life, we're just talking about the basic needs to survive. Those five needs are food, not in any order. Food, water, shelter, clothing, and sleep. Right? Now you might, I heard somebody say air, I think I was thinking about that this week, but air is just kind of a given, right? No matter where you are on the planet, there is air, right? There might not be water nor shelter, but there is always air. So that's just probably a six one, but just an assumed circumstance.

But that's going to be there for you. So now if you have these five things, theoretically you can't survive. You don't need anything else. But we know beyond that if you want to be happy and healthy and whole, then the list of those five things begins to grow of what you need to survive. Because what we all know is that survival is not the point. We are not just here on this earth to simply survive. There's much more to life than just making it through or enduring whatever our circumstances now in this day in which we live now in this cultural moment, the temptation that we face, whether we are aware of it or not, is to be lulled into a distracted and largely unaware existence. I think this every time I'm driving in my vehicle, right, the light has been green for 20 seconds and the person in front of us is not weird.

They have no clue that light changed. Doesn't matter how many times you honk, sometimes it doesn't matter how many cars are flying by them. They're in their own world distracted and unaware of what is going on around the there. Now we are all guilty of this at times. How many times have we witnessed or been a contributing factor to a loved one or a friend sharing a story with us or sharing information with us and we hear the words, but we don't actually hear what is being said because whatever's going on in our head or on our phone or on the world around us is more captivating than what our loved one or friend is saying in the moment. Unfortunately, this is a very common experience in our day, and if we are not watchful, if we are not careful, if we are not aware of this, then we can live into this pattern without even realizing it is the case or how deep it is affecting us.

But the world that we live in encourages us to be distracted. Think about this for a minute. You never are just able to focus on one thing. If you go home this afternoon and turn on the cable news network of your choice, you'll hear somebody talking and that's really all they do is talk. But you'll hear them talk about whatever it is that they're talking about and whatever is so important that they need you to listen. But meanwhile, there will be a ticker on the bottom of the screen scrolling information that has nothing to do with what they're saying. There's probably some sort of stock market watch in the corner and sometimes there's even videos playing that are unrelated to the matter that the person is talking about. If you pull up YouTube because somebody told you today you should go and check out this really cool video about this really cool thing that I think you would find of interest, most likely you're going to encounter one, maybe two ads before your video if you're fortunate enough to skip past that and you don't have to endure them.

And not only that, while you're watching your video, there's thumbnails on the other side of the screen that have headlines that are meant to capture your attention and to literally diverted away from what you are watching so that you will watch whatever's on the side. Instead, a lot of times when you go to pump gas, there are video screens and conversations going on over the PA system that are trying to tempt you into being distracted. There's loud music at restaurant, there's billboards constantly rotating and portraying new information. It's even hard to go to the bathroom in public and find a space where you're not bombarded by distracting information like advertisements. The goal of our society is distraction because if we are distracted, then we are easily influenced and we are open gay to being manipulated and to certain actions or behaviors that other people want for us to perform.

Fortunately for us though, Jesus offers us a way out of this web of distraction. One thing that we say a journey often is that God is never in a hurry. Frenzy and being frantic is the pace of the patterns of slow is the pace of the kingdom of God. If our lives are lived at the pace of frantic and frenzy, then we will be easily distracted and very rarely present, never present to one another, never present to the Holy Spirit, never present to the beauty and wonder of the world around us. And if you're saying to me today, Jonathan never is probably too strong of a word, then we can substitute it for sporadically. You're sporadically present to one another, sporadically present to the Holy Spirit sporadically present to the beauty of the world around us. And the outcome isn't actually that much different. But as we said, there is good news for us today because we are not left to our own devices.

Survival of the fittest is not what determines our fate. The way of Jesus offers us a slow and in the words of the philosopher Dallas Willard relaxed and present existence where the light of Jesus shines in the darkness and illuminates the path forward from darkness and chaos to order in peace as we have been seeking over the past couple of weeks to answer the question, who is God? Our hope is that we will end up in a place that no matter how much we trust God, now we will have more trust for God in these conversations on Sunday to prove that God is trustworthy. Because if we are able to trust God, then the ways of the kingdom of God will be able to take root in our lives and then blossom or give birth to the fruits of the spirit as the byproduct of our lives.

So Jesus made these statements in the gospel of John beginning with the same phrase that God used when he was telling Moses, who is sending him back to Egypt? Jesus says, I am and then followed it up with the truth last week. I am the bread of life this week. I am the light of the world. And in that he linking himself to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who had a long track record of proving himself trustworthy and Jesus was doing this in order to invite the original hearers of Jesus saying this and us to understand that he is trustworthy as well. If you have your Bibles and want, we read along, we're going to read from John chapter one. We actually read this verse last week as well, but it's so important for us because it helps connect this link that Jesus is trying to make with these I am statements.

John chapter one, beginning in verse one, it says this, in the beginning was the word. Now, if you're able to look at a copy of the scripture or on your phone, you'll notice something about that word word. It is not how we normally would see the word word, right? It is capitalized, meaning it's a proper man, right? So this is important for us to be able to see. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made. Without him, nothing was made. That has been made in him was life and that life was the light to all people.

This is how John begins the conversation about Jesus and who Jesus is. Jesus was present at the dawn of creation. And to trust God is to trust Jesus. Now, before we read about the faithfulness of God in the desert, before the Israelites lived generations in captivity in Egypt, before Abraham was promised to be the father of many before Noah and the art before Adam and Eve, Jesus is present with God and is God. So at the beginning of this story where we read in Genesis one, it says in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. What did John say? In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was with God. In the beginning. Through him all things were made. So in the beginning, God created the heaven and earth. Now the earth was formless and empty and darkness was over the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters and God said, let there be light.

And was light. What did John say in him was life and that life was what? The light of all people. Jesus is the light of the world and has been the light of the world since the very beginning. Why is this important for us to know? Is this just theological jargon? Is it just a pastor trying to find something important to say? No, it is important for us to understand and to know because if we want to live lives that are present, if we want to be attentive to the things that matter in this life, if we want to live in sync with the kingdom of heaven while we are on this earth, the way to do that is today. And it has always been Jesus's, all of the words written about God, all of the prophetic imaginations pointing towards God, all the signs performed by the people of God.

All these together lead to Jesus and it's in Jesus' life and death and resurrection where we place our hope and it's these things working together which prove that God is trustworthy. So going back to last week where we read Jesus saying He is the bread of life, the life of Jesus will sustain us. We talked about the five essential things to survive. Jesus is the bread of life and will sustain us just as any food that we eat. And this is not in just a physical or spiritual sense, but in also a physical sense. Jesus will sustain us. Doing what Jesus did isn't only a matter of eternity and what will happen when we die. It is how we live life here today in the kingdom of heaven. While we are on P, what is good for Jesus is good for you and good for me.

A few days ago I was walking our dog through our neighborhood, which is three or four night a week happening. When it's hot, it kind of stretches out between times. But nevertheless, we like to get out and to walk through our neighborhood and to get some exercise in. So our neighborhood is like a lot of parks in Dallas, if there is an open space or a wooded space or a bridge, you are likely to find somebody underneath it or a tent camped out in the middle of the trees. And so it's not uncommon to encounter somebody who is homeless as we are walking through our neighborhood. But a couple of days ago, Louis and I were walking and we came across this guy who appeared to be extremely hot. He was haggard and looked as if he had been scorched by the sun. He was carrying a pair of shoes and he had a box that was full of this and that and he was carrying, also carrying a hose nozzle.

For some reason my dog was suspicious of him and he was growling and barking at him. And so I felt like I couldn't just walk past my stuff and I said, Hey, I'm really sorry that my dog is barking at you. And his response to me was, in a very dejected way, do you have a pair of shoes? Not like trying to get something from somebody, but a moment of desperation, like a last ditch effort. Do you have a pair of shoes? And my first response to him was, no, I'm not carrying a pair of shoes that I can just give to you. But then I thought about the closet that I have back in home and it's full of shoes. Some of these shoes I don't even wear anymore. And I was trying to think through how can I get this guy to either stay here or should I have him walk back with me to my house or should I sit at a place where I could meet him to give him a pair of shoes?

And none of that seemed to be satisfactory to me. So I just started to listen to him. And as I was listening to him and I heard his troubles that he was going on about, and you can imagine being out in this heat unprotected and in his case with no shoes and just being outside all day, his story was hard to hear. And so he was asking me for shoes and he was talking about his troubles. And so I said to him, you're holding some shoes in your hand. Why are those shoes not on your feet? Seems like a very pertinent question to ask. And they said to me, these shoes are a few sizes too small and they have absolutely no support from it. And so it actually hurts worse to walk in the shoes that I have that it does for me to walk barefoot.

So then I was thinking to myself and I thought, okay, hopefully this guy doesn't have the same size shoes as me. So I said to him, just out of curiosity, what size shoes do you wear? And he said, I don't know, 10, 10 and a half or 11. Oh no, the exact same shoe sizes that I wear depending on what kind of shoe. So I standing there in the middle of the street, in front of the school, I took off one of the shoes that I was wearing and I said, try this shoe on. And he did. He put it on and it fit in. So I took off my other one and he put it on and it fit in. And he did this little shuffle test to try to make sure that they would work and they were comfortable to him. And his dejected face is scorched by the sun face.

Had a bit of a smile on it at this point and he was, I don't know if you'd call it dancing, but kind of leaping in the moment for a little bit of joy that he experienced by having a proper pair of shoes on his feet. And so he said to me something like, I'll give you this hose nozzle. I said, no, I don't need a hose. Nozzle can keep that and you the shoes. And he said, I can have these shoes. I said, you can have those shoes, you can really have those shoes. And so I walked back to my house and I was in my bare feet. And the whole way back I heard Jesus saying, if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt hand over your coat as well. Now, obviously he wasn't suing me, but he asked if I had any shoes and I didn't have any shoes to give him, but I did have a pair of shoes on my feet.

Now as a pastor in training, you learn all kinds of ways that if you so choose, you can use them to argue with God. We call them EU and ex of Jesus and ways of understanding and interpreting scripture. And there are moments in every person's life that is theologically trained where they will do their best to argue with God. And you can find yourself, some people never grow out of this, but as you mature you to trust that what Jesus is saying is actually valid and it's true and it's good for us. Now, I don't know this person's name. I don't know if I'll ever see him good. I don't know if he is a follower of Jesus, but what I do know is that Jesus is trustworthy. I know that no matter what it is, we will never regret doing something that Jesus has said.

And I know that the last few times since I've walked through my neighborhood, when I come to this place where that conversation happened, still a week later are sitting the shoes that he left behind. And my hope is that as Moses was told to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground, that somehow some way that place where we stood in front of that school is the place of holy ground for him and his life. And my prayer is that as he walks in these new shoes, that the Holy Spirit will reveal to him that it is Jesus is the reason why he has shoes on his feet. What is good enough for Jesus is good enough for us do get the feeling that there is more to life than what is going on right now. You ever lie awake in bed and hope that by some miracle when you wake up, whatever patterns and habits that you had the previous day will be of no interest to you any longer. Do you ever feel as if you are trying to grasp onto life but it just keeps slipping through your fingers like sand

John eights Jesus plain, I am the light of the world and whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

If you find yourself in a despondent or a low place, trusting the way of Jesus and seeking to be formed by his ways will illuminate you and the path to the fullest life. If you find yourself at the pinnacle of life and all is good, trusting in the way of Jesus and seeking to be formed by his ways will illuminate to you the path to the fullest life from here. Jesus will by the work of the spirit in help you to slow down, to live at the pace of God and to equip you to be present to God and to others and to the world. Part of this slowing down, it is doing the things that Jesus did where we often view people in need as a distraction from a task or an imposition to our destination. Jesus was never in too big of a hurry to look past anyone. So we too, in following in Jesus's footsteps, attempt to move slowly just as Jesus did in order that we might notice others. Jesus didn't just move slowly to notice others. He also moved slowly to take care of himself. We constantly read these little nuggets in Jesus's story about getting up early or getting away from the crowd so that he could spend time alone with God.

I don't think that there is a one way only approach to spending time with God, but I do know that if we want to live in syn with the kingdom of heaven on this earth, that spending time in prayer is essential. Whatever that looks like for you, find a way to spend a few minutes in silence and prayer their morning. Maybe get out a few minutes early or when the kids exit the car to go to school, turn off the radio and pause to take some deep breaths and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Or maybe at lunch, go for a short walk. Or at the end of the day as you're doing chores in the house, do that and try to be as attentive to as possible to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. I don't know where those moments are where you could pause and spend a few seconds or minutes with God, but I do know that as you make time for those moments alone, inviting God to shape you, that God is absolutely trustworthy. I know that in these moments, instead of trying to carry your situation by yourself, that Jesus will lighten the load. And I know that where there is darkness, Jesus, the light will shine brightly illuminating your way forward.

So Jesus moves slowly to notice others. He moves slowly to take care of himself, and he also moves slowly to live in community. Jesus shared life with his community, with his friends. He created margin to spend investing in their lives and they also invested in his life. He forged friendships and invested his time with others. As a result of this time spent, this community was a light shining into the darkness and illuminating a way forward for everyone involved and for the world around it. This week, hearing that Jesus is the light shining into the darkness, may we make just one move in order to pace our day by the slow kingdom of God that we might be present to God, to ourselves, to one another and to the world. Over the past few weeks, we have been trying out some different just schedules as we worship together. And the intent behind that is to try and allow us to focus in on the presence of Jesus that is here with us. We invite every week anyone for a time a prayer, but we wanted to make sure to spend some extra moments in pause where we could

Determine by the work of the spirit within us, whatever it is that God has called us to. Another thing that we say here at Jeremy Aah is that when God speaks, God calls, God never speaks and expects everything to stay the same. When God speaks, there's something to be done in response to it. And so David's going to play for a minute between this time and before we receive union and we want to invite you to respond however you ate, whatever God is speaking to you in this moment. Now, we were over across the way and air conditioning was working. We had the corner where you could go and knee and prayer, and we don't have that here. And so you can make your seat there a little altar for you to kneel and to pray or to sit and to pray. And this morning, if you're sitting there and you want somebody to come and pray with you, would you just slip up your hand and somebody will come and join you and prayer in this moment. So let's take a minute and let's invite the Holy Spirit to speak whatever it is that God had for us this morning.