Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Season of Pentecost Sunday June 25th 2017 - / Matthew 10:5; 21-33 / Have no fear
Text: Matthew 10:5ª; 21-33
Theme: Have no fear
Intr – Religious people usually have a harder life than some pop idols and famous people.
As a person of faith, you need first to walk your talk before people would walk to hear you talk. At any sign of an inconsistency, which can be a real sin, or many times just going against some current social values, your message is immediately disavowed or repudiated. When more visible things happen such as wrong actions, excessive drinking, promiscuous life, or drugs, then the Christian message would be non-stop beaten the hell out.
On the other hand, you see many pop idols and celebrities condemning the World with their so full or reason songs or speeches, pointing out injustice, misery, corruption, moral problems and people “on the wrong side of History”. That is, it is always “other people” of course. When it comes to their flaws, they pull the “I am a human and I commit mistakes like everybody” card. But then they don’t have to bother even for a moment if they walk their talk, if they justify wrong actions, if they have a promiscuous life, excessive drinking, drugs, serving as the worst model for younger generations. No. In that case, this is all part of a “life style”, “attitude”, “being against the system” type of thing.
Whereas they do have problems and sins like everybody else, the problem is that in the end many of them are praised and enthroned as legends, myths and even role models. Even when they die due to an overdose or a reckless life.
But religious people - Christians at least – already know this. We know we have a cross to bear since we were made God’s children. We know is going to be a weight to be carried from standing for our faith and supporting judgment and criticism from a culture which believes that if you don’t kill, if you don’t steal, if you are nice to people, and if you pay your bills you are going to go to heaven. “Christians? Oh no, those guys are hypocrites. They think they are better than anyone.”
When we read our times, we confirm that we are delivered to death continually by large parts of our culture. And that’s what Jesus warns us about.
1 – “Have no principles”
To this day, Christianity is still the most persecuted religion in the World. Around a 100,000 of us are delivered to death every year, especially in intolerant and violent countries.
In our country thankfully that doesn’t happen, or at least not so much. But in many ways we also are “delivered to death” these days. That may come from government bills; from culture, media; from society at large. And, as the Gospel today tells us, that can come even from the closest people in our life. Family and friends.
That’s why some authors believe we are on the verge of becoming counter-cultural again. You know, we’ve been there once. That time of catacombs, lions and persecution. Then for a very long time, Christianity became mainstream especially in the West. In one hand, that was a problem for the Church, since becoming Christian was a trend, so everybody wanted to become one, even without proper instruction. On the other hand, that was very positive since Christian principles helped shape the strong culture and principles we have to this day.
But not so much anymore. We are being swept aside. The principles we uphold doesn’t sound as good as it used to for many of the latest generation’s ears. At some point, we wonder if we should even merge into culture and make alien principles ours. To bow down and accept the cultural war that has been fought against our principles. Otherwise, we’ll need to accept to go to the margin again. Maybe even digging one or two catacombs again, who knows?...
2 – Have Christ
Now there are 3 ways we can be hated - because we are going to be, says Jesus.
_By doing what is wrong – not good all. Everybody will hate or despise us for all the right reasons.
_By doing what is right – That’s the good one. Because we will be hated by the right people – that is, the ones who hate the Gospel. And that’s good.
But then, if we never receive any type of opposition, that’s no good sign. That’s the third type:
_By doing NOTHING… - maybe people will be indifferent to it. Or would thank us for keeping our mouths shut. God certainly won’t. I wouldn’t say he would hate us, but we have already read what God says about lukewarm people on the book of Revelation.
Jesus’ love and peace brings us to him and sends us to action.
But wait a minute, did I just say love and peace? But the Gospel shows Jesus saying He didn’t come to bring peace but rather the sword!?
At first glance this saying sounds like a contradiction to passages like Isaiah 9 or Luke 2. The Prince of Peace, peace on earth, and so on. It is true that Christ came to bring peace – peace between the believer and God, and peace among man. Yet the inevitable result of Christ’s coming is conflict – between Christ and the anti-christ, between light and darkness, between Christ’s children and the devil’s children. The conflict can occur even between members of the same family.
Look, this is hard. But it is what it is. Not even family is above Christ. So when it comes to stand for Christian faith even before family or closest friends who think or believe different, there’s no merging. We still love our family, we can still be with them. Actually, we should be close to them as much as possible, loving them and displaying God’s Word and love. But there can be yielding of no kind when it comes to our Christian faith and teaching. This is hard, for sure. Here we understand even better why “bearing your own cross” goes beyond enduring sickness or problems in general. It’s a matter of faith.
3 – HAVE NO FEAR
“Have no fear”, says Jesus. Now that’s something quite hard too. Can we imagine ourselves fearing not when we see we are facing persecution? When we see that culture and society are turning their backs on us? Even, and especially, when we see friends and family starting to look different upon us, or calling us “outdated”, “Intolerant”, or “too radical” just because we stand by Christian principles? That’s definitely not easy. And we won’t make it by ourselves. So we need Christ. We need His Word. We need His Sacrament and the fellowship of the brethren.
Now we are familiar with: “We don’t need the Church. We can read the Bible and pray at home”. Or “Faith, not religion is what counts”. Well, this is not totally inaccurate; we can pray and read at home. We maybe can exercise our faith away from the fellowship of the brethren, the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments. But how likely is that?
Can you hold your family together without ever being together, having meal together, talking and hearing? Can you ever maintain your friends without ever talking (in person or virtually), hanging out together for a while, sharing your stories, joys, sorrows and dreams? How strongly would you stand, even risking your life, for a friend you never see or a distant relative? As opposed to your BFF or your mother, father, brother with which you have a close relationship?
That’s what the Church, the body of Christ, is there for. It is not supposed to be a club, a court or an accountability institution. It is the place where God’s gifts are shared, people are forgiven and strengthened. We are called to love our neighbour and to respect the freedom every person has to make their choices regarding human life. But we place our faith on Him who takes care even of the birds and creation. Who knows even how many hairs we have in our head – if we have them... So, have no fear!
He enables us to have no fear. Because where His love is fear does not withstand. Rather, Perfect Love casts fear out (1 John 4). Have no fear!
Now, it is always good to have heads up for that initial phrase I mentioned that the world attributes us. “Christians? Oh no, those guys are hypocrites. They think they are better than anyone.” We should see if we sometimes are not fostering it. Because when the Church acts as law moralist, trying to change everything and everybody using God’s law in its strict sense, that’s when we foster that mentality.
The law must be used to ultimately lead hearts to Christ, not “to make society better”. Otherwise, we should have paradise on earth in those countries with a declared Christian majority. But we don’t, just because Christianity is not out to make the world a better place to live. We try as we can, but sin is always there. That’s why Law must be preached to drive us sinners, all the sinners, to Grace; to Christ; to His love and mercy. This is for everybody. Not a single person is excluded from this Law and Gospel preaching, even the ones we disagree with the most, or that hate us the most. God’s Law and Gospel change us from inside, turning us to Him by faith. They lead us to leave behind principles and attitudes that are not His, and foster in us the desire to live according to His will. In Him, we can have no fear!
Now, when we think of the illustration from the beginning of today’s sermon, we know why Jesus wouldn’t be a pop idol or celebrity of our times.
_A celebrity needs to be idolized around the word by millions of fanatics (that’s where the word ‘fan’ comes from). Jesus, while on earth, had some followers - but lots of enemies, and thousands of indifferent people.
_A celebrity must be excentric, with manias that make them unique, and that often make sense only for themselves. Christ’s “manias” were too regular: to eat, to sleep, to talk, to be close to people, to help... What we could cal “excentric” are His miracles. But they meant a lot not for him, but for others.
_Celebrities need to be able to produce, atract and love millions. Of loonies. Jesus did it all for free because he loved millions. Of people.
_A celebrity is loved by millions of people, and so is hated too. But knows hardly any of them. Jesus is loved by many but ignored or even despised by lots of people. But he still knows everyone of them. Every one.
_When a celebrity dies it must cause huge commotion. One needs a tomb to visit and memories to cherish. Christ’s death was seen by a few witnesses, mocked by some and ignored by most “journalists” of that time. There’s no tomb to be visited. And you would find hardly any person who would like to hold memories memories of a death row mate.
_Celebrities are distant, misterious, unreachable. Yet Christ is close, personal, upfront a little too much.
Jesus would possibly never be the Pop King, the TV or Movies Star, the famous leader of millions in our times. But he His something no one will ever be: The King of kings. The morning Star. The Son of God. Whether we have media coverage for this or not. This is more than enough.
That’s all HE wants to be in our hearts. For God is not looking for fanatics(fans). HE is out to look fgor and after his CHILDREN.”
Cc – Dear friends, Jesus didn’t lay His life out only for religious people. He did it for all. We are God’s Grace displayers for everybody. For eEverybody needs the Love that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. So that whereas we have our cross to bear, the challenges to our faith and the weight of upholding His principles, Have no fear. We can always uphold and share his love and forgiveness. Because everyone, from the celebrity to the anonymous in the multitude, can live under His Grace and Love. Amen.
 You don’t hear anyone speaking about “Christianophobia” these days, but about lots of other “phobias” we surely do – many of them clashing directly to with what we believe.
 You know that times when you write or say something and a certain group of people strongly disagree? You think, “If they are mad, that’s because I stood for the right principles. That’s exactly what happens here. Whenever enemies of the Gospel stand against us, that shows we are doing what is right.
 Concordia Self-Study Bible, p. 1464.
 Romans 6: the free gift is the eternal life. That is as opposed to the salary of sin is death”
 (If someone today makes money using His name it’s because they missed the point completely.)
 Also, Christians here have a big advantage – which is almost a cowardice: It is our Model, who is also the only perfect example of walking the talk. His message is precise, precious, providential. But the advantage goes further. He is not only a Model (and thanks be to God, because no one can really imitate Him perfectly) but He is our SAVIOUR. He bore all our incoherences, flaws, errors – sins – on His back, on His Cross. By doing this He gave us the assuredness that we don’t have to try to be perfect role models for everyone, but point out to Him. From this, we will try to put faith into action the best way we can. His message is the ultimate hard message to hear, because it shows no one is a model or example. But more thatn that it is the ultimate Gracious message to receive, showing that every single person, through repentance and faith, receives his forgiveness. No conditions, no strings attached, no fine printin. Complete and comforting forgiveness, sending us to live in and with Him every day.