St Paul's UMC
October 16, 2022
  • Love Divine (Love Divine All Loves Excelling)
  • I Know Whom I Have Believed
  • Doxology
      • Isaiah 7:14NIV2011

      • Luke 1:26–35NIV2011

  • One of the most admired and inspirational women of the 20th Century is Saint Teresa of Calcutta, better known as Mother Teresa. People from all different backgrounds and religions saw in her a woman of unshakable faith, one who lived out of an invincible hope, and who possessed extravagant love for the poor.
    Born in Albania in 1910, at age 12 she felt a call to serve the poor. At age 18 she began her journey to becoming a nun at a Catholic institute in Ireland. In 1929, she arrived in India, taught in a school for girls, and eventually made her final vow as a Loreta nun, thus becoming Mother Teresa. In September of 1946, she received from Jesus what she described as her “call within a call” - to go and establish a religious community that would be dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Her community would become known as the Missionaries of Charity and according to their own mission statement, they are all about “Offering free and selfless service to the poorest of the poor, the unwanted, uncared for, outcasts, abandoned, downtrodden, rejected - in streets and slums or wherever they may be found.”
    There are many organizations and nonprofits that do good work and serve the poor.
    I believe what sets apart Mother Teresa and her co-workers is the lifestyle they voluntarily adopted. She chose and those who still follow her footsteps, continue to choose, a life of poverty and austerity - they choose to be poor and live simply.
    The Missionaries make four vows:
    Obedience, and
    Wholehearted and Free Service to the poorest of the poor.
    In a word, Mother Teresa became incarnate to poor. Incarnate means to “take on flesh.” She became one of them. In doing so, she was able to connect closely with them, meet them where they are, understand their challenges, love them, treat them with human dignity and lift them up so they would experience the love of God.
    The Missionaries of Charity established several homes for people who were abandoned (like orphans, those who are dying, the mentally challenged) and Mother Teresa once said of the people who lived in these homes:
    “First of all we want to make them feel that they are wanted, we want them to know that there are people who really love them, who really want them, at least for the few hours that they have to live, to know human and divine love. That they too may know that they are the children of God, and that they are not forgotten and they are loved and cared about…”
    Her life was a reflection of what Jesus did for all of humanity. God put on flesh and became one of us, in our spiritually poor and miserable state, so that we could experience His love and be lifted up.
    John 3:16 ESV
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
    Why did God become man?
    That is the question we are examining this week as we study the foundations of our faith. The Christian faith in unique in this aspect - our belief that the Creator of the Universe became human - not a some mythical semi-god like Hercules or Zeus - but an actual human like you and like me. Jesus was born into a family, his mom had to feed him and clean him when he messed himself as a baby. He had to learn how to walk - which meant he had to fall down a few times. He had to learn how to work with others and deal with bullies. He had to learn a trade and cook a meal for himself. He bled, he hurt, he laughed, he cried. He was human.
    He was also divine. He never stopped being God. While Jesus was born in the flesh a little over 2000 years ago in a manger, He always existed and was there at Creation.
    John 1:1–3 ESV
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
    Colossians 1:15–17 ESV
    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
    Listen to verse 15 again,
    Colossians 1:15 ESV
    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
    If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Everyone has an image of God in their head - if you ask them “what do you think God is like?” - they will usually have some kind of response. Sometimes that image is not correct. Sometimes that image is based on bad teaching, bad life experiences, or just speculative imagination. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He is the image of the invisible God. Study the Gospels, read what He did and how he interacted with people. We know God when we get to know Jesus.
    So why did God become man?
    First, Jesus became man so we would know God and to free us from the penalty of our sin.
    Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a great champion of the Christian faith who lived in the 4th century, once said “The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men.”
    His teachings revealed the Kingdom of God and taught us how to live as residents of that Kingdom.
    His suffering, death and resurrection - which we will talk about in the coming weeks - healed us from our sin sickness.
    Isaiah 53:5 ESV
    But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
    But for today, I want to look at an answer that St. Athanasius gave in his work titled On the Incarnation when he said:
    “For the Son of God became man so that we might become god” from St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation.
    What did he mean by that?
    Let me first clarify what he did not mean - he did not mean that we become the same substance as God our Creator. There is only One God - and it is not us.
    What he is saying is that by freeing us from our slavery to sin, setting us free of curse that fell on Adam, and filling us with His very presence - we are able to become like God in the sense that we are partakers of the divine nature. We are given the power to live like Jesus - the one who is the image of the invisible God.
    Genesis 1:26–27 ESV
    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
    We were created as image bearers of God - we were to reflect the attributes and characteristics of God to all of Creation - but sin messed that up. Jesus, having broken the power of sin, frees us to once again to be image bearers.
    J.D. Walt, theologian and publisher of Seedbed, quite often talks about the first half and the second half of the gospel. He says many Christians today get the first half, but miss out on the second half.
    The first half is believing in Jesus as Lord and having your sins paid for which in turns brings salvation. The verse that captures the first half of the gospel is:
    John 3:16 ESV
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
    The first half is very important - but there is a second half. The second half is captured in
    1 John 3:16 ESV
    By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
    The second half is following in the footsteps of Jesus and laying down our lives for others. It is humility. It is self-denial and self-sacrifice. It is dying to self and picking up our cross. It is loving extravagantly, giving generously, showing mercy and being obedient to the Father.
    It looks like a young girl upon hearing God’s promise replying:
    Luke 1:38 (ESV)
    And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
    It is being incarnate - being God in the flesh in your neighborhood and in your community.
    Has your faith in Christ resulted in that kind of transformation?
    Are you living the second half of the gospel?
    I confess, when I examine the lives of those who clearly bear the image of God in both their words and their actions, I realize I need a deeper work of the Holy Spirit.
    But that should encourage and excite us. There is more to our faith than waiting to go to heaven when we die. Jesus became one of us so we could become like Him.
    We are not doomed to a life of brokenness and dysfunction - Jesus desires to teach and heal us. Look at the disciples before the resurrection - they were a hot mess walking around - often doing the very thing Jesus taught them not to do. But then look at their lives after the resurrection, after Pentecost, when they were filled with the Spirit. They were changed - transformed -possessing inner peace, clarity of mission, unstoppable.
    That is what he offers each of us.
    Let’s pray:
    God, our Father, You redeemed us and made us Your children in Christ. Through Him You have saved us from death and given us Your Divine life of grace. By becoming more like Jesus on earth, may I come to share His glory in Heaven. Give me the peace of Your kingdom, which this world does not give. By Your loving care protect the good You have given me. Open my eyes to the wonders of Your Love that I may serve You with a willing heart. Amen.
    Now join me in reciting the Apostles’ Creed.
    Apostles’ Creed
    I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
    I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
    he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic** church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
      • John 3:16NIV2011

      • John 1:1–3NIV2011

      • Colossians 1:15–17NIV2011

      • Colossians 1:15NIV2011

      • Isaiah 53:5NIV2011

      • Genesis 1:26–27NIV2011

      • John 3:16NIV2011

      • 1 John 3:16NIV2011

  • I Believe in Jesus

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