"I chose you and appointed you" / Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Season Of Easter / May 06th 2018 - / John 15:9-17
Text: John 15:9-17
Theme: “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit”
Intr – I chose to bring up to the pulpit today this doorstop from our church’s front door. It has nothing special per se, and actually it would go unnoticed by all if I hadn’t bring it here. However, now that I bring it up here, it has a different meaning. It was chosen to be here, so now it is not unnoticed and uninmportant anymore, because it is in front of more than a hundred people. It was chosen to have a purpose this day.
In the Gospel today, Jesus said “I chose you and appointed you.” What was Jesus’ purpose when He decided to choose us?
His words bring us at least three important reasons for that.
1 – Because Jesus wants us to be His Friends
Jesus says He chose us, calling us to Him. Not only that, He brought us into an unique reality in which we have a special relationship with Him. A relationship of Friendship. He chose us because He wants us to be His friends.
He makes us His friends in the Unfriending era. Why do I mention that?
Every year New Oxford American Dictionary names a “word of the year". A new expression emerging from people’s conversations. In one those times the word chosen was 'Unfriend'. The definition is: a verb that means to remove someone as a ‘Friend’ on a social networking website.
A bad word to be awarded with such a distinction, don’t you think? Unfriend. Ok, sometimes we need to avoid certain companies when they are not friendly But it’s definitely not good news to be unfriended personally whether in the virtual world or in real life.
Jesus, here in St John 15, calls us Friend, as the beloved Christian hymn goes: “What a friend we have in Jesus.” Whether in the virtual or the real world He connects to our hearts by faith and doesn’t leave it - unless we would unfriend Him. He won’t press the button to unfriend us because He is not guided by impulsive emotions, neither will He let the humor of the day cause him to delete us. The Master gave His own life for all human beings which means He’s not going to send someone overnight to the spiritual trash bin. The world, the internet and people today may be hasty in all that they do, but Christ always has time for us. For all time.
Why is it that we became His friends? Because of something in us? Because we are beautiful, or because we have such a spetacular intellectual ability? Well, no. We are not His friends because we are likeable. We are likeable because He has made us His friends through faith. It was out of love. The Love Jesus says “remains in us”.
Jesus talks about friendship in the plural. Even though we are individuals, even though faith is individual and I can’t “I believe” in the stead of anyone else, the consequence of faith is that we live in community. We are a group of friends of the Friend, that never unfriends or defriends us.  He says in the Gospel today. “I no longer call you servants, but friends”. The main reason: “For all I have heard from my Father I made known to you”. Talk about intimacy, closeness! From our big friend Jesus we hear things from the Father in Heaven. It is not just a form of energy, not a force, not just “a guy up there.” It is the Father, and His Son, coming close to our hearts!
Now, thinking of this virtual social networking times, what if Jesus actually had an online profile? What would you read there?
Perhaps this: “I was born in a little town and raised in another little one. I'm a pretty easy going guy who likes outdoor activities like walking around. I love people – people in general, all people. And I’d like to connect to everybody." Would He have many friends? What about the comments people would leave on it? I just wonder.
But what we do know for sure is that He is not just a virtual friend, a distant fellow, or an ironic, harsh commenter on other person’s lives. He came to Earth in flesh and blood to give salvation, peace and joy to our profiles - the real ones, not fake IDs. And because he wanted to share his love to all he launched a social network that started with few people and today reaches the world. Far before internet came to interconnect humankind to itself, Christ provided the way to connect all humankind to God in real time - faith. In times like these when social networking connections are a big thing for many, we have someone who provides good content to our profile while interacting on any social network
Our Great Friend went really far in this friendship. He went somewhere we couldn’t follow Him. He went there in our place, actually. On His cross, if there was any doubt left about His friendship, it was brushed completely off. He showed He was willing to invest in this friendship to the ultimate consequence. He payed the price of this friendship with His own blood. By forgiving our sins and bringing us salvation, He made us His friends –and also friends with one another in the family of faith.
2 – So our joy be complete
Here is a second reason why He chose us. He wants our joy to be complete.
Sometimes we may be left wondering how can our joy in this world be complete with so many “joy stealers” around us:
_Lapse family members;
_hate speech – whatever it means;
And you could certainly add more to his list, I’m sure.
We need to realize though that Jesus is talking about something different from what the world understands for joy or happiness. It is not from this world. It is complete. It is perfect. Think about it: what is happinness and joy in life? Something related to physical euphoria or to a way of living?
Alternative B is the right answer. Happiness and joy, contentment in the Lord is not a momentary emotion, a fleeting feeling. It is a constant. It means that we are in the right Way, by His Grace - Christ. It means to be walking in this Way towards the right place – Heaven. Once you are in the right way you’ll have joy and contentment, no matter what will happen, no matter what may come. If you are in the wrong way though, there is nothing around you which can make joy and happiness last. Everything would be just palliative care. You and I would be doomed because of sin, walking towards the other end. He chose us so that our joy, our happiness be complete. Not partial. Not “more or less”, but Complete. In Christ, and because of Him.
3 – So that we love one another – bear fruit
The third reason Jesus chose us: So that we love one another.
Now, which of the items on this list do you think it’s the most important thing to learn: math, to drive, using a computer, geopolitics, or to love?
I think most of us would say “to love”. All others are important. But they do not rank as high. To love is crucial. This is the glue that cements humans relationships that are intended for a lifetime.
But now let’s think for a moment: Where do we find the classroom for learning how to love?
We have classrooms for math, for driving, for geopolitics. We have professors and specialized schools to teach us how to use a computer, how to understand nature, how to manage and administrate things... and thousands of other activities. However to love is #1, the top! Shouldn't there be a special place to learn that? Good question…
Well, perhaps there may be no formal classroom. But there are other rooms where we can learn and practice how to love. The living or dining room, where family relationships can be nurtured, taken care, treated…in love. The waiting room, symbolizing here social interactions, where we can see others not as "strangers" but as God's creation...in love. The church room where we share together the good gifts from God’s hands...in love. The working room were we establish relationships with many, and where we show the principles of God’s Word in action in our lives...in love. And so many others.
So many rooms! And so many opportunities to learn! Our God – the One that provides us these rooms – shows us how to. Because He Himself shows us in Word and in deed. He spoke of love and put it into practice sending Jesus Christ. As a student in the Master's classroom is to find that no matter where we are, what room we are in, God is love and shows us how to love.
This is the fountain of Love: Jesus. This is how he sends us to love our neighbour – from His love, rooted in Him, steadfast in Him, connected to Him. We are called to show God’s love, not only love. Because God is love, but love is not God. It is not a generic “love” that embraces any and every thing, but the True Love that comes from the True God. To love is to bear the fruits of the faith God expects us to bear and share.
But there’s no need to worry about the ‘grade’ we’ll get as we learn in these classrooms. In Christ we all have more than a passing grade. We have by faith access to the full life He provided with his Death and ressurrection. We are already friends, called to serve.
Today we receive new members in our congregation. A special day in which we are reminded that Christ has called us all closer to be His friends; to Love one another; to have full joy. Our new members are not classmates obtaining today a degree. They are being today confirmed in the assuredness that they are friends with Jesus by faith in Him. That they, and us all, are all called by Him to live This faith, to bear fruit, to witness His love. To walk in true joy and happinnes towards our eternal place with Him, forever. We were called to be strenghtened in His Sacrament, as forgiven friends who walk with Him every single day.
Cc - As I showed in the beginning, this doorstep was there behind the front door, noticed by almost no one, until I chose it and brought it up here with a purpose: to serve as an illustration of “to choose” for today. “I chose you”, says Jesus. This is pure Grace. It doesn’t depended on our behaviour, our physical appearance, our good works, our sympathy, our ability. He chose us out of Grace to be his friends, to have complete joy and to bear fruits of love. As this object gained a different value in my hands here, today – in God’s hands we are completely transformed, completely loved. We are sent to bear fruits of His complete and unmatched Love.
 One of the best definitions of friendship I know really fits well here: “A Friend is someone who knows everything about you – and still loves you” (Elbert Hubbard).
 In times like these, when confidence and trust in people and in institutions goes downhill, and sometimes we are let down even by our closest friends, Jesus will always be the loyal side of this frienship. He is an ever loyal friend.