“I and the Father are One”
April 17th 2016
Introduction: We began a brief series of sermons last Sunday dealing with the topic of Servant-Leadership, following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We, all to briefly examined the areas of “Called and Strengthened” for the task of ministry that we all are called to be a part of in some form. And we talked about the importance of being “Spiritually Center.” That is, we are to allow God, through the power and presence of that part of God that dwells in us, the Holy Spirit, to have control of every aspect of our lives.
Now today we are continuing our look at the role of being a servant leader and how this role continually works at bringing about renewal in the lives of every believer. Today we are going to focus briefly on the importance of Listening to God and listening to each other. We are also going to consider the “Manner of Love” with which we live our lives as individual believers and as a community of faith, known as the church.
A.) Listening to God
1. We would think that this aspect of our lives as Christians would be obvious, listen.
2. Simply listen, and yet no matter how hard we try listening is one of our greatest struggles in our faith journeys.
3. Perhaps there is a difference between listening and actually hearing and understanding what is being said.
Ex. Consider the conversation Jesus has with the Jews in our text for today. Verses 24-25
Ill. In Richard Foster’s book, “Celebration of Discipline,” which I used two years ago for a series of sermons, Foster talks about the difficulty we face when it comes to really hearing what God is saying to us. He says, “In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness,” he will rest satisfied. Psychiatrist C.G. Jung once remarked, “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.”
4. The question in my mind, is why do we feel guilty when we take a few minutes to spend in fellowship with God and listening to what God would say to us? Why?
5. The world, our culture and society teach us that in order to be the best we can be we must pack and stuff every second and every moment of life with as much as we can and to just sit still and listen is a waste of precious time.
6. Giving ourselves permission to spend time with God listening to what God would say to us is, in my opinion the greatest gift we can give ourselves and give to others.
Ex. Why is a place like Camp Eder so special to us? Think about it for a moment. I contend that it is because we come away from all the distractions of life, if only for a little while, to this beautiful place, and get alone with God, and if possible, God’s people.
It is in the intentionality of the moments of our lives that God can really speak to us and indeed changes the course of our lives. I have been in groups of pastors where the question has been asked about calling to ministry, and always there are those, like myself, who say that a time in a camp setting was crucial to their sense of Gods call.
B.) Listening to God’s people
1. As important as it is to hear the still small voice of God speaking to us, it is also important to hear the voice of God’s people speaking.
2. Many times God speaks to us through a sister or brother and we need to realize and understand when it is not just them speaking but that it is actually God speaking to us.
3. Crucial in my thinking, of listening to God, is that anything and everything we hear in our quiet moments and from our family of faith is that it has scriptural support.
4. This is why I am deeply concerned over the loss of authority for scripture, for the Bible.
5. God has spoken to his people down through the ages, and it is recorded for us in the pages of the Bible.
6. Add to that, God is still speaking to us today, and it is supported by the events and activities of faithful people down through the ages.
7. Not only that history itself is unfolding according to God’s plan.
Conclusion to point #1: Listen, listen with your total being. Listen for the still small voice to speak to you. Do you hear the message? The messages are simple. I love you my child and be at peace.
II.) Manner of love
Ex. Alexander Mack, the founder of the Brethren movement 300 years ago was asked how the Brethren would be known. His response still holds true today. He said we would be “known by the manner of our living.”
A.) Servant leadership.
1. When I thought and prayed about this series of sermons it occurred to me that it is a bit like preaching to the choir.
2. If anyone should know and understand what it means to be servants, and in so doing set examples after the fashion of Christ Jesus, it should be Christians and especially the Brethren.
3. The basin and the towel are symbols of who we say we are as a part of the body of Christ in the world.
4. Being willing to humble ourselves even to the point of laying down our very lives for others is so foreign in the teaching and culture of our world.
5. It always has been and always will be a struggle to put others and their needs ahead of our own, yet this is exactly what the people of Jesus are expected to do!
B.) Two words come to mind
2. There is this tendency to overpower people and situations and to do so to our advantage.
3. This is where we see ourselves as “self centered” instead of “Christ centered.”
4. Coming to the cross of Jesus, we join in his crucifixion and literally lay our lives down for the sake of the gospel and the salvation we have in Jesus.
6. In my way of thinking this word may in fact be the most important word of all, even more so than the word love.
7. I know that is hard to comprehend but just how do we live love out if it is not in giving respect to others.
8. I believe for us as Christians, if really put Christ Jesus first in every aspect of our lives then we will show respect for all of God’s creation, every creature, every aspect of the environment.
9. It is challenging and even difficult in our world today that is such a throw away society.
Conclusion to message: We want to be servant leaders, we need to know what one looks like in order to figure out how to be one. We can of course follow the example of Jesus. We can also look at the lives of our sisters and brothers. We can listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to us.
Listen, take the time, give yourself permission to be still in the presence of God. Hear the voice of God when a sister or brother speaks to you a word that you need to hear.
Pay attention the manner of love that share through your life. It is above all else the greatest gift you have to offer. Amen.