Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

10/08/17 Sermon - The Multidimensional Spirit

“The Multidimensional Spirit”

1 John 5:1-12


Love continues to be a major theme for our author in 1 John. The fifth chapter begins with the author describing how one is born of God and that being born of God gives us the source we need to love. The author is stressing that we don’t earn our salvation by loving others, but that our salvation comes by believing that Jesus is the Messiah. Not only the Messiah, in the general sense, but that we must believe, personally, that Jesus is our “own” Messiah. The author also wants to make it clear that this is not simply an intellectual exercise, but a relationship where we trust and rely on the Messiah as a personal friend.


The author makes it clear that when we are  “born again” we will experience two effects:

A Love for God and

A love for God’s children.

Loving those in the family of God means we do not limit our love to our own race, our own class, our own culture, or our own denomination or group, or to our own political perspective or theological persuasion. If any of these outside markers mean more to us than salvation through the blood of Christ and the lordship of Christ in our lives, then something has gone wrong. Since God has made each of His children different, there is bound to be areas of differences. But the center of each Christian should be their acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins and their love for God, which then manifests itself into love for God’s children. Too often we get caught up on the peripherals and begin to judge and reject based on our perceptions.


Today’s Scripture reminds us that the demonstration of God’s love in our lives,

is

for us to love others, which can be seen through our love for God and carrying out God’s commands.

The author then quickly reminds us that God’s commands are not burdensome. The author would know, because he grew up as a Jewish man, required to not only memorize the commands in the Torah but to also obey these commandments and there are 613 of them. What are the commands of Jesus that Christians are called to obey? In Luke 10, when an expert in the law asked Jesus this question, this was what Jesus called “the correct response,” verse 27,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”


Jesus described the religious leaders this way in Matthew 23,


23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.


Jesus spoke of himself this way in Matthew 11


28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

What a gift!

All of the stuff we carry each day, that we mourn, that we angst over, that we worry about, that we complain about, that we feel is in our way and causing us undo stress, can be traded with Jesus for peace?!

How can this be?

 

Because He loves us!

And when we can get past our humanness just enough to see exactly who Jesus is and what He wants to do for us, we will not only be surprised, we will be relieved.

This means victory!

Yes, being born of God, does mean victory.

Victory that overcomes the world!

Not a victory over the world such as a mighty country or power. But a victory that comes over our personal worlds. The world we live in daily that seems to sometimes get us down, and make us wonder and question the existence of God. The author goes on to describe this victory as one from having life in the Spirit. When we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we are “born again,” we are able to overcome the world because the Holy Spirit lives within us, testifying in truth. A Jewish spiritual leader, Nicodemus, questioned Jesus on what it meant to be “born again” and Jesus answered,

“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”

The author in 1 John expresses it in the same manner, flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. And the Spirit is able to support us in several directions at the same time. The Spirit reminds us of the saving action of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The Spirit enables us to live in a world of struggles by offering us strength and resources when the world offers us despair. And ultimately the Spirit gives us hope for a future. And the author focuses on the testimony of the Spirit because the Spirit is truth.

Where does that leave us today? Because the word “truth” has become distorted and the world would have us believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth, but that truth is individualized and personal. Therein lies the problem. We each do have our personal truth, the central ideas that shape us, form us, and define how we live our lives.

We might call these our “defining truths” they are the truths that determine how we think about politics, social issues, and how we relate to others and ourselves and more importantly what we hold as our faith convictions.

For example, which statement do you most relate to?

 

Are we are society governed of the people, by the people, and for the people?

Or

 

Is it that common people have to be supervised by the millionaires and billionaires that have the money to buy our government?

Is your defining truth,

 

That we are a beacon of freedom and compassion for the whole world, seeking to help those who are suffering and struggling?

Or

 

Are we the world’s only remaining superpower, able to exert our will wherever and whenever we please?

 

Are we a nation that allows everyone the freedom to express their beliefs?

Or

When a football player kneels during the National Anthem, is he no longer, American?

Defining truths are powerful. They are often instilled in us from childhood and often times they have a way of controlling our whole lives. Unfortunately it is when the negative defining truths stick with us that can make life difficult. Can any of you relate to the defining truths that often stick in your head, such as,

“You can’t do that.”

“Why can’t you get anything right?”

“Your brother/sister was able to do it right, what happened to you?”

“You got an A-, why couldn’t you get an A?”

But today’s Scripture tells us that our faith gives us victory! And the best part, is this victory comes by exposing the lies that masquerade as our defining truths. The Spirit is around us to remind us of the truth, and the truth is, that Jesus, God came among us to walk in our shoes, to experience the fullness of our suffering, to be a child of two imperfect people and survive, to experience life as a human that contained struggles and loneliness. And why did Jesus go to all the trouble to become human? He wanted to make it clear that we are not worthless, rejected, unloved people, But rather we are - all of us - every single person here, the focus of God’s unconditional, irrevocable love.

God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

This eternal life begins today, we don’t have to wait until we die to experience it.

The truth is God loves us all and will stop at nothing to reach us with that love. And when we experience God’s love, we get a glimpse of eternal life. And it’s that experience that gives faith the victory of overcoming the world of fear, the world of shame, the world of pain and sorrow that defines our lives. The Spirit within us, sets us free to live the lives we were meant to live. And when we experience that freedom, the Spirit encourages us to share it with the people around us, most of whom are also living with their own “defining truths” that have bound them and kept them from being who they were  meant to be. The author put it this way in verse 12,

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Jesus put it this way in John 10:10

 

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus came so we can have real and eternal life, a more and better life than we could ever dream.

Holy Spirit, guide us to the truth, the way, the life.

Let’s pray.