July 18, 2013

Only One Thing Is Needed (Proper 16c)

 Jesus is quoting from Psalm 27 - the goal of life is to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Our dwelling in the house of the Lord forever begins with listening to Jesus and the Holy Spirit in this lifetime. We listen to Jesus when we read the Bible, pray and give thanks. In the Readings Mary has chosen the better part because she has chosen to not be distracted from listening to Jesus by the many other things that needed to be done. Listening is very much on my mind as I have been paying through some challenges in my Interim ministry and have received helpful direction from the Holy Spirit.

 1. So who do you listen to?
Many people are so busy listening to the demands of daily life and their families that they neglect to focus on the voice of Jesus
  • Morton Kelsey – “busyness is not of the devil busyness is the devil’
  • Most people use the word “busy” to describe ‘how they are’
  • At work we listen to colleagues, supervisors and secular culture
  • Fear of failure drives us into ourselves – escape into busyness
  • Voices of shame and guilt drive many people away from God
We get distracted and fail to focus on the one thing we need - help from the one who can really help us. The question for all of us is “What distracts me from listening to Jesus and the Holy Spirit every day?”

 2. Amos warns us of the consequences of not listening to God
The times were good, Israel was expanding and not under attack. The rulers had gotten complacent.

  • Hebrew Religion had been reduced to rituals.
  • Intermarriage with the Canaanites had led to toleration of Canaanite worship practices– in violation of the Moses Covenant
  • Justice and truth were suffering as people focused on becoming wealthy.
  • Like ripe fruit they were in danger of becoming overripe

Amos was trying to warn the people and the leaders that God was not pleased and that there would be serious consequences. Many of us are concerned that we live in a similar time. At the 2004 Anglican General Synod there was a similar prophecy that “God will no longer listen to the prayers of this church”. Our Anglican Church seems to be distracted by political issues. We seem to have forgotten the spiritual battle and instead be listening to the secular gods of Education and Psychology. Amos reminds us that there is a final judge and that we are accountable for our actions.
3. Paul proclaims the mystery of life in Christ
He reminds us that at some point in the past we were all enemies of God in our minds. Our behaviour towards other people was not acceptable to God. Amos and our Psalm Reading (Psalm 52) emphasize the sinfulness of deceit, lying and exploitation of the poor. But the great mystery is that we can be forgiven through the sacrificial death of Jesus.
  • Some people have trouble believing this - is against the logic and reason of our physical worldview
  • Bible assumes a metaphysical – greater than physical worldview
  • Metaphysical worldview adds the spiritual dimension to the physical
  • Spiritual dimension can be understood through Bible Study and personal experience – such as the Charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Things that happen in the physical dimension – like sins, affect what happens in the spiritual dimension
  • Jesus uses simple analogies to explain this - “I am the door”
  • Sacraments are examples of this interaction – an outward visible sign of an inner spiritual effect
  • Mystery of faith is that through baptism we are spiritually joined to Jesus.
  • Jesus lives in us because we believe in him and love him
  • ‘Lives in’ is like the story of Romeo and Juliette lives inside us
  • Our faith and experience connect us to Jesus
  • In the New Covenant of Jesus we are joined to His death for our sins by our repentance and faith in asking for forgiveness
  • Our guilt is spiritually taken back in time to the Cross and paid for
  • Mystery of Faith is that the shed blood of Jesus covers our guilt, creates a clean environment for the Holy Spirit to live in us and makes it possible for us to stand in the presence of a Holy God in heaven when we die – this is the Good News!
Our spiritual life in Christ begins when we begin to really listen to Him, surrender to Him and invite Him to live in us through the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual life grows and matures as we spend more time listening to Jesus, examining our lives, repenting our failures and being forgiven and healed from those things which pollute us spiritually.

The one thing that is necessary is to focus on Jesus and the Holy Spirit so we can live an eternal life of joy

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