Fairmeadow Community Church of The Nazarene
July 18, 2021
- My Savior's Love
- 35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).Situation Fred Martin was a great big man in every way. He had great big shoes. He wore a great big jacket. He took great big strides as he walked along the street and into our church building. He had a great big smile that could win you over from a block away. He had a great big heart. A heart for others and especially a heart for children. He thought they should be in church. He thought so because Jesus said: suffer the little children and let them come to me.Fred saw that Jesus extended a big invitation to everyone, even little ones. Fred moved heaven and earth to keep that door open wide. He gave money he didn’t really have. He never met a stranger and tried to connect with everyone he met. He would always get his server’s name in restaurants and offer to pray for them right there. Sometimes they let him do it. Other people couldn’t get away with that but Fred could.Fred drove an old bus that was fixed up nice to help kids and families get to church. Fred arranged for the Iowa basketball team and Mombo the clown and even the iowa football team to come to our church just so kids would have an extra reason to come.Fred wasn’t perfect by a long shot. When he was younger man he had made mistakes. But Jesus brought him out of that and he wanted kids to avoid his mistakes.One thing I personally learned from Fred was how to agree with others in prayer. If you hear me saying, yes, Lord, please Lord, or anything like it while someone else is praying it’s because more than a time or two a great big black man put his hand on my shoulder as he said those words while someone else was interceding to God.Because Fred was always reaching out, always trying to love, his life communicated some important things:1. Being a Christian was about being on a journey where stuff happened all the time. This is no Sundays only sport. Fred was on a journey. He was going somewhere. He wanted to take as many people as possible with him. He’d bring a bus, if necessary.When Fred spread his arms wide and talked about Jesus dying on the cross it was easy to imagine that God’s heart was so big he might even love me, might even forgive me all my sins and grant me salvation.Fred’s life extended a great big invitation to everyone. It was the invitation of Jesus: Come, follow me. You wanted to follow. Fred has passed from this part of the journey. But many of us are still following.2. Fred’s life made it clear that being a Christian involved every day of the week and letting God lead you in every encounter. It’s a journey, not a destination. The Christian life is a life in motion.Not everyone liked Fred. I think some were jealous of his gifts. Some didn’t want so much attention on loud kids. Some were embarrassed that their lives didn’t compare in terms of commitment and effort. So sadly he was criticized too often. But most people understood, Fred wasn’t trying to impress anyone. Fred was just making the most of every opportunity. Everyone can’t be Fred and that’s ok. So nobody needed to compete with him. Most were just inspired by him to do the best they could with the opportunities God gave them. Fred didn’t have any degrees in theology that I know of. But Fred read the Bible and Fred knew the Bible. Not in a quiz show way, but in a let me tell you about a God who loves you kind of way. He loved the psalms and they helped him pray in the dark times. If you hung around enough you learned enough to get started following Jesus. You knew you needed sneakers if you were going to keep up.The Bible shows us that Jesus was an itinerant preacher, prophet, and healer—he didn’t stay in one place. He moved from place to place and life to life. The early disciples didn’t wait for “the next time” that he would show up in their town. Instead they followed him wherever he went. Of course, this following must start somewhere. It begins with an invitation. John the Baptizer followed him on sight, encouraged his own disciples to follow the master. They took him literally and Jesus could sense them right behind him. He turned around: what do you want? Rabbi, where are you staying? The journey of grace begins with an invitation to “come and see.” Grace embodied in Jesus is so compelling that it’s not forced into our lives. It simply invites us along for the journey.Andrew went and told his brother Simon and I’m so glad he did. He brought him to Jesus, it says. Jesus changed his nickname that day to Peter, the rock. And it stuck.I’ve shared with you before how my call to preach came in much the same way. An exciting and upbeat invitation from God at a moment I was about to speak to my church for a youth service some 36 years ago this summer.God says, come join me on my big mission to save the world and even the universe.ComplicationI wish I could say it was all easy coasting from there, but of course it isn’t. Following Jesus begins at the point of invitation. It’s a simple “come and see.” Jesus understands that no person follows him long without being confronted by the need to make a series of decisions. Following Jesus isn’t an extended spectator sport. There is a moment when “come and see” becomes “follow me.” These sound similar, but they are different. “Come and see” is about becoming acquainted with the journey. It’s about getting close enough to explore, even as a person is trying to decide if it is for them. But eventually a decisions are required.Before you make these decisions, there are a few things you must know. Your decision is made possible through the extension of God’s grace. This grace is personal but not private. God extends grace to meet you in your uniqueness. God’s grace will challenge you on a deeply personal level. This grace is also costly. • There are no guarantees that others will understand. Fred was sometimes misunderstood. Even Jesus was, so we will be, too. • Following Jesus into the journey of grace is costly and will require courage. Saying yes to Jesus means saying no to some things. It means making room in your life for others and for the things of God. It means rearranging your schedule to participate in worship and study and prayer. It means pulling back from some things and spending time reflecting and preparing for the things that matter.But it’s best not overthink it at first. Think of it this way: we have the grace we need to hear about Jesus and his offer. We have the grace we need, when we need it, so say yes to the invitation. And we will have the grace we need when we need it to make the choices God is asking us to make.1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.Paul says literally that we are surrounded by God’s grace. It can come to envelope our lives, enabling us to stand and helping to shuttle us forward on the journey. But like we said last week: this only happens in Christ. Jesus is the one to follow to gain access to this all-sufficient grace of God.Resolution This journey is deeply compelling and personally costly, but if you heed the call, it will transform you powerfully. It starts with “come and see” and moves to the challenge of “follow me” but is evidenced in the promise of Jesus that “you will be”—made radically different. Those who take seriously the journey of grace will be thoroughly transformed along the way. Some change happens in a moment when we commit to Jesus and when we fully surrender our lives in sanctification. Some changes happen as we are challenged and grow and overcome by the grace of God. It is often said that Jesus loves us enough to meet us where we are—but he also loves us too much to leave us there. If Fred was here today he would flash us a great big smile, but then his face would go serious. He would say as he did many times: I tried the world. I chased after things that could not satisfy. There is sin and death on that path. Some of his friends didn’t make it out alive. He would say: follow Jesus. Hear the invitation to come, follow me. This is the way of life. A better life. A life worth living. Matthew 4:19 tells us when Peter and Andrew were called Jesus said, “I will send you out to fish for people” (Matt. 4:19). This simple call transformed how they saw themselves and gave them purpose. Peter, Andrew, Fred, and you and me. We can all answer that compelling invitation.Celebration • “I will send you out to fish for people!” This statement from Jesus points to a beautiful truth of the journey of grace: follow Jesus long enough, and you will be called and commissioned.It starts with “come and see,” moves to “follow me,” promises “you will be,” and then commissions with “go and do.” Remember, this work is personal but not private. • The journey of grace is compelling not only for us but through us, to others.• We are afforded the opportunity to join Jesus in partnership in his mission.We are all on a journey somewhere. Where are you headed? It’s better together than alone. It’s better with Jesus than without.Jesus doesn’t tell us everything that lies ahead. But he does extend a very compelling invitation: come and see. Come and see what life with the Son of God, the prince of peace, what life with the wonderful counselor, life with Jesus can be like.It’s a journey of grace from beginning to end. He is the way, truth, life. Won’t you come and see? Let’s pray...
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