July 17, 2015

We Are To Be Temples Of The Holy Spirit (Eph. 3.22) for Proper 16

This is what all Christians are supposed to be. We are to be people in such a right-relationship with God that God the Holy Spirit can live in us. The Readings explain what this is in terms of the relationship between a shepherd and sheep. In modern times this is the relationship between each of us and Jesus. If this is a good and holy relationship based on faith and love, the Holy Spirit will come and live inside each of us to guide us, strengthen us and heal us as we go through life in this dangerous time and place.

1. Jesus is our righteousness (Jer. 23.6)
Names in the Bible are very important. They tell us what a person is expected to be. They are a one word personal mission statement. The expected Messiah - Jesus, is to be called “The Lord our righteousness”. It is important to note that we do not have “righteousness” or a right relationship on our own. Jesus is our righteousness. It is only when we are connected to Him that we are spiritually covered by the righteousness of Jesus.
  • The Greek in the Bible really means “in Him”.  
  • God by his love and grace accepts our Faith and trust in Jesus sacrificial death for us as equal to us dying for our own sins.
  • We repent and die emotionally to our sins in our weekly Confession.
  • This is why the Priest can give us absolution.  
  • God accepts this repentance in Faith and forgives us through the shed blood of Jesus.
  • We are spiritually covered by our faith in the righteousness of Jesus
  • Those who are not living “in Him” through their Faith in Jesus,  Baptism and Christian lifestyle are not covered by the righteousness of Jesus. They are alone and vulnerable to all the temptations, deceptions and spiritual attacks of the Evil One. We can see what this looks like on the front page of any newspaper. It is not very happy.

2. Jesus is our teacher

The Gospel (Mark 6.34) reminds us that Jesus spent most of His time teaching people. There was a balance between the healing that gathered a crowd and the teachings which explained what God was doing. This is in dramatic contrast to the current war in the Middle East. Terrorists in contrast kill people to get our attention and then try to justify their actions with a political statement.

  • What we are seeing is the consequences of false religious teachers.
  • Young men in the Middle East who have grown up in poverty and been taught to blame and hate.
  • We should be able to figure out where this is coming from. We is it who is so violently against Gods’ children? Who is it who is so particularly against the one people that historically had a relationship with God?
  • Welcome to the world of spiritual warfare made public.
  • We are all involved. This is not just a Middle East thing. It is the same war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Canada, the US, England and the Philippines etc..
  • It is spiritual warfare disguised as terrorism. We are all the “enemy” - even the terrorists who believe they are fighting for their understanding of god are being destroyed.
  • The real war is between the angels of God and the angels of Satan. This is nothing new. What is new is that it is less hidden.
  • Our response must be to try and understand this. The best way to understand this is to read the Bible and learn how Jesus taught us to deal with the Evil One.
  • Jesus did not teach us to ignore evil. Jesus taught us to both pray for protection - “...deliver us from the evil One” is the Greek text; and to publicly confront Satan. We are to expect personal attacks and we are expected to have read enough of the Bible to defend ourselves. Jesus is our teacher in all things.

  • 3. Jesus is also our healer
    We all get injured in the battles of life. I have never met anyone who did not need prayers for healing. The Good News is that Jesus is also our healer. Teachings without actions are hard to believe. This is why Jesus ministry focused on both teaching and healing. The healings were evidence of the truth of the teachings. They proved that God was really with Jesus.
    • People ran to touch Jesus, be in contact
    • If we are really temples of the Holy Spirit we can show this by praying for others to be healed.

    The challenge is to be united with Jesus and each other in this battle
    On our own we are just toast. We get deceived, tempted, fall into sin and become separated from God forever. The goal of spiritual life is to be united to Jesus and  come to know Him. We learn to trust in Him. Trust leads us into cleaning out our lives and becoming a temple of the Holy Spirit.
    • We know we are on our way when we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit
    • We feel connected to Jesus and spiritually alive in Him
    • We can experience this when we exercising our authority as Christians to teach and heal and confront the Evil One.

    Right now we should be praying for our Arab Christian brothers in all of these countries. They are all being physically persecuted for their Faith - and we are on the list of targets. The bombs and missiles are a challenge to us to not give in to hate and lies. The challenge is to grow stronger as temples of the Holy Spirit united in Jesus.

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