November 26, 2018

Provoking One Another to Love and Good Deeds

Passage: Hebrews 10: 11 - 25

Provoking One Another to Love and Good Deeds

Hebrews 10: 14 – 25

Sunday November 25, 2018

Rev. L Bryan McClain

It is Christ the King Sunday, the day on which we commemorate Jesus’s reign over the heavenly or spiritual realm as well as the earthly of our reality. Jesus, King of all kings, high above all.  But what does that mean for you and me?  How do we get from executed criminal, guilty of treason, blasphemy, and other assorted alleged crimes, like insurrection.  How do we go from there, to King of the Jews, King of kings?

I think to help us understand that a little better, I want to continue in the book of Hebrews and what we talked about a couple of weeks ago, and that is Jesus as high priest.

But Jesus was more than a High Priest.  They were the only ones qualified to draw straws to enter into the inner most sanctuary of the temple.  And even then, there was no guarantee that he would come out alive.  In fact, they would tie a rope around his body in case he killed over while in there and the others could drag him out without defiling the room and thus dying themselves.

That was one of the jobs of the high priest.  To fulfill God’s Holy law by offering the proper sacrifices of the cleanest offerings of lambs and goats, pigeons, or doves, and to do that on an annual basis.

If you recall, we talked about Jesus not just offering the perfect sacrifice for sins, but being the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. So that all who received him as savior would be forgiven. Jesus offered himself for our sake in order to abolish for us the penalty of sin, so that we might draw near to God and live according to his true command.  To love God and to love one another.

Why is this important?  Because Christ forgiveness releases us from any debt we may owe, it cleanses not just our actions, but it cleanses our hearts and minds.  It allows us to move forward, not stay stuck in the past.  It frees us to live that new life that God intends for us to live.  IN fact, it releases us from any future guilt.  The only thing that would stop it, would be if we did an about face and rejected it.

For by that single sacrificial offering that Jesus offers on our behalf, it not only justifies us, but it also sanctifies us.  That is it works to cleanse us and make us whole.  And becoming whole in God is a life-long process.  Our Christian faith is all about growing whole and holy each and every day, or acting more like Christ in our encounters with others every day or at least doing the best we can.

Granted, none of us are perfect.  I would dare say that most of us do that dance where we may take two steps forward and one step back and sometimes it is one step forward and two steps back.

But never the less, when we trust that Jesus died for us, we are covered by grace.  Therefore we let yesterday go and move forward into tomorrow.

We are able to do this because of the covenant God has made with us through the sacrifice of Jesus.  And that is, that God writes his laws on our hearts and in  our minds.

That is to say we have a conscience about such things as Loving your neighbor as ourselves, doing the right thing, the honest thing, the fair thing, even when it does not benefit you.  It benefits your neighbor.  And also you consider who your neighbor is.  It is not always someone who looks like you or thinks like you, or acts like you.  Often it just maybe somebody you may not have even noticed.

Jesus points that out in the story of the Good Samaritan, or the healing of the leper or the blind man or the woman with the disease.   When we live in covenant with God to consider people like this to be our neighbors and to treat them first with dignity and respect, and help them in meeting their needs, just as God works to meet ours, then, no matter what our own sins may be, God is sure to forgive; to remember our sins and lawless deeds no more.

That is the assurance we have through this Very High Priest, Jesus.  That is what also makes him King of kings, that and that he has come as God’s only begotten Son, and he willingly took this upon himself.  He is the servant leader.

Because of this we have something real that we can hold onto.  We have grace, and we have it in faith.  Being cleansed and made new, we have the full assurance of this faith.  And we have also this confession filled with hope, hope that our future in Christ is secure and certain.

Because of this we have more reason to meet together and instead of provoking one another about how we have failed, how we could have would have, should have done better, criticizing like the world loves to do; let us flip that around and in the nature of Jesus our High Priest, let us provoke one another to love and good deeds. Let us encourage one another in this faith. For who you ask?  For the ones God wants us to call neighbors.

To provoke, to agitate, to stir-up.  These are words usually associated with annoyances and irritations that get under our skin.  To be sure there are those people and people of faith that do that quite well.

But that is not what I mean here.  Here, to provoke others to love and good deeds really is about encouraging one another, lifting one another up, giving aid rather than a hard time.

At our last council meeting we decided to once again adopt a young family.  But unlike years past where we just bought gifts for them for Christmas, this year we went the extra mile.  We have deicided to adopt them for a year.

A young couple living right here in White Stone expecting their first child but in need of so much including family as the young lady has none to speak of, we hope to help them out with things like a baby shower, assistance with things not just financially but with acquiring skills mentorship both in life and in faith.

Here is a perfect opportunity both for them and for us to provoke one another in love and good deeds.