S-1120 5/17/09 6SAE/3B Hymns: (O) #457; (S)# 276; (C) #651
Texts Acts: 10:34-48; 1 John 5:1-8; John 15:9-17
Theme: "It is NOT burdensome!" (1 John 5:3).
Question: “How would you describe your life?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Epistle lesson: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Saints in Christ, LIFE can be viewed from two different perspectives. To put it another way, it all depends where you are in life. Consider this: Holes in the road are considered a burden and a headache for us because they ruin our cars and make the road bumpy, but for the birds of the air, they are a blessing because God provides for them pools of waters to drink and play. Hitting a deer is burden for us, because we are inconvenienced to be without a car and the money we have to pay to fix it; but for the body shop owner it is a blessing because this is a job security through which he/she is able to provide for his/her family.
There is no greater example of the matter of perspective than the cross. Just think about it. If we look at the cross on face value, all we see is a beaten and bloodied Jew. As the Prophets would say, we would be more likely to turn away in horror rather than gaze upon Him. But if we look at the cross from the perspective of the sinner in need of a Savior, there can be no more beautiful sight. For there, in the beaten and bloodied body of Jesus, we see light. In His death, we see the life that is ours for an eternity! It is all in how we look at it. And only faith can have this correct perspective.
And our life as a Child of God takes on this perspective issue as well. We see it in these words from St. John’s first letter. The challenge for us this morning as we consider the text which the evangelist John by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has given us; is this: Do we consider what Christ has given us His beloved Children to do as a blessing or a burden? The answer, it all depends from which view you are looking at this text.
If we are truly children of God, hearing and believing what He give us, then what He commands us do is not a burden, but a blessing. On the other hand, if we live as our own gods, seeking our own pleasures, only thinking of ourselves; then it is a burden.
As His blood bought beloved children, following His example, we do what He has asked of us—to keep His command and these commands are not heavy or burdensome; but are a joy to the believer to share with others. What a blessing to be invited by the Author of Life Himself so that we can share His love with a world that desperately need to be freed from the burdens of this life and the shackles of the devil.
Because in our call to be children of God we often forget the message and power of the cross; John reminds us again today that Christ’s Commandments are not burdensome. Why, because Jesus said so. Listen to the text again please: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Here it is in black and white. To live as a child of God is not a burden. To serve God is not a burden. To love God is not a burden. To serve neighbor is not a burden. Only a blessing because it draws us to our loving Savior and those we serve.
Our heaven-sent Savior and Lord, Jesus bids us to cast our burdens on Him. In the Gospel of Matthew 11 we hear Him say, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I Am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (28-30). Did you hear the fabulous promise from the lips of Jesus? Hear it again: “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light”.
Indeed, the yoke that Jesus gives us is not a burden, but a blessing—to love one another as Christ has loved us. Here Jesus changes the way we look at it. Having been loved by Christ, we love one another. The love that we have flows from the heart of the Savior, who loved us and demonstrated that love as He carried the burden of our sins on the cross and paid for them with His whole life.
For this reason, you and I as children of God, know that in the Resurrection victory we rest and celebrate what Christ has given us—new life in Him, salvation, peace, joy and FORGIVENESS FOR ALL OF OUR SINS. PAUSE.
The key to understanding this relationship between love and commandments is who we are made to be by God. If we get this wrong and think that this is something we make ourselves to be, of course the commandments would be burdensome if we were to LOVE in order to be children of God. But the cross changes things! Since we are already children of God through the cross and the empty tomb; His commandments to us are not burdensome. It is nothing other than being what God has made us to be in Christ!
And yet so many people walk around as they are carrying all the world’s burdens on their shoulders. They view themselves as useless, unappreciated and unwanted by God or others. They are not happy in life. Many are looking for a way out. Many try to play god, in order to remove the burdens that is overwhelming them; even to the point of taking their own lives.
Do you know that in this country there has been a great increase of people committing suicide? The increase is carried out by young teenagers and older adults. But to those who view their lives as empty, worthless or inferior because they can’t carry out their purpose in life evaluate how God uses all situations for our good and for His glory. Consider the story of Joseph (Gen. 37-43) Rejected and disowned by his own brothers, this man of faith was sold as a common slave for 20 pieces of silver. Yet God worked it out in his life that he would save many. Hear Joseph’s own words: “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors” (Gen. 45:5-7).
For those who are so overwhelmed and feel it is time to depart from this world, and wish that God would intervene and take them home, consider the words of the Apostle Paul, “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account” (Phil. 1:23-24).
For those who think that their lot in life—disability renders themselves useless and worthless and only a burden to others. Consider how God uses every situation for our benefit: “And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or His parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:2-3).
Certainly in life there are burdens, heartaches and pain. But as the beloved children of God we do what Jesus exhorts us to do—love one another; share His love and spread His Gospel. The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
To fulfill the law of Christ is to love God and honor Him, even when it is not easy or pleasant to do. In the O.T. the prophets had the burdens to preach the Word of God and call people to repentance. And, we, as the children of God of the 21st century have the same honor and privilege. Sometimes it is not fun telling people they are living in sin; it is not fun asking them to turn from their evil life-style; but it is important for us to do, since Christ has done that for us.
We don’t do these things because we want to earn God’s favor or more of His love; but since He has already loved us—we follow His decrees. For in Jesus we see the true meaning of what love is. Look closely and you will see that He offers you forgiveness on the anvil of His cross. There the hammer of sin’s punishment pounded mercilessly. But when Good Friday’s darkness was over, the sunshine of God’s forgiveness shone brightly. And you and I get what Jesus paid for—salvation, life and peace. PAUSE.
Today, by the grace of God we have come, we have left our burdens at the foot of the cross and received the love that He gives us. Having drank from the fountain of love, we leave here to sprinkle others with His love and lighten their burdens by sharing that love with them. God grant us the joy and privilege to share the blessings of His commandments today and always. Amen.
Now the peace…