August 20, 2018

Thy Will Be Done (Proper 20, Year B)

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom as all the readings suggest, we need to take the prayer “Thy will be done” very seriously. This phrase is at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer which in turn is at the heart of Christianity. Those who fear the Lord (and obey) are by definition included in the Kingdom. 
  • People have trouble with both fear of God and obedience
  • Fear in this case means respect, acknowledgement as a sign of love
  • Fear of not being included in the Kingdom, loved by God
  • Fear gets attention but like Billy Graham we have to quickly move on to proclaim the good news of love, healing, forgiveness and a life of joy in right relationship to Jesus.
  • Readings teach us the importance of discerning God’d will - spiritual wisdom in nourishing our spiritual lives  

1. Soloman prayed for a discerning heart (1 Kings 3.9)

He was a young man surrounded by people giving different advice. He needed to know the truth. A discerning heart is another word for spiritual wisdom:
  • Spiritual wisdom is intuitive information, often from God. 
  • Spiritual wisdom does not always seem rational 
  • Spiritual wisdom is a higher form of wisdom than reason
  • Soloman could have asked for power, wealth, long life
  • God gives him the gift of wisdom and everything else
  • Conditional on obedience and right-relationship
  • Soloman is a role model for seeking spiritual wisdom
2. Inclusion in the Kingdom is conditional on obedience
Obedience is evidence that we have real love of God / faith in our hearts. The free will that God gives us is a test of this love of God, others and our self. We obey because we love. Jesus is teaching us what we have to do as evidence of our belief / love / fear of God. Holy Communion nourishes our spiritual life in Jesus through praise, teaching, self-examination and confession and experiences of the Holy Spirit:
  • Liturgy re-connects us to Jesus by remembering Him
  • Praise re-connects us, opens a doorway / window to Jesus
  • Teaching reminds us how we should live, convicts us
  • Confession and absolution frees us from sin guilt, distractions
  • Receiving blessed bread and wine allows Holy Spirit to come
  • Holy Spirit guides us, convicts us and helps us
3. “…be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise  (Eph. 5.15)
Paul is reminding us that “the days are evil” (v 16). Evil includes both natural evil (forest fires) and spiritual evil (deception, temptation). The fear of the Lord motivates us to be aware of the dangers and careful how we live: 
  • Wise people do not believe the lies that they do not need Jesus  or can save themselves by good behaviour
  • Wise people read their Bibles so they get to know, believe in, love and obey Him;
As the watchman on the wall, we are responsible for warning our neighbour if we see them in danger and doing whatever it takes - including a small dose of fear and a big dose of love, to ensure God’s will is done.

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