In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Are you surprised when people don’t react well to your talk of Jesus? Don’t be. The world hates those who do not love what it loves. (1 John 3:13) By world, I mean, those in the grips of unbelief and therefore by nature do not love Jesus or His brothers, for they abide in death. (1 John 3:14-15) But unfortunately even many of those called to life of wisdom and brotherhood in Holy Baptism have placed themselves outside of faith and are in death. For they do not love the assembling together with our Lord’s brothers. (1 John 3:14-15) The book of Hebrews warns do not forsake the assembling together. (Heb. 10:25KJV) If you do, you only love in word not in deed. (1 John 3:18)
What do you call a man who says he loves his wife, lives in the same town, but maintains a separate residence, never goes to see her, and never gives her or her children any of his financial resources? You call that man a liar. For though he says he loves her there is no action to back it up. There is no love there. Just lies. (1 John 3:18)
For the foolish world often times words are enough without action. You don’t need to put action behind things as long as you say the right words. You know what I’m talking about as you find yourself censoring yourself increasingly with family or friends in this politically correct world. And of course this even invades the worldly aspects of the Church. After all, a member or pastor can can have a good reputation, and have many think well of them, pulling the wool over eyes of all, for a while. As long as they say the right words. But in the end no one is fooled. For if you do not love the brothers. If you don’t love the assembling of God’s saints around His meal, then even if no one will voice it, or admit it, we all know what’s going on.
Just like in family. You hate it when a member of your family is estranged. It hurts. But when there is no contact, when someone withdraws from a healthy family and never comes to family gatherings, to meals hosted by mom and dad or whoever, does that person still gladly count themselves as a member of the family? They are still legally a member of the family. But by their intentional absence its as though they aren’t. St. John, the “apostle of love”, is calling a spade a spade. (1 John 3:14b)
if you don’t come to the meal of the family of God; if you won’t gather around God your father’s table with His children you hate your brothers. And that means life does not dwell in you. (1 John 3:14-15) For how does life get in you? You eat it into yourself. At a meal. A meal provided by God your Father, through the cross of His Son. For the rich food of this meal is the body and blood of Christ. It is the meal that gives you wisdom. (Prov. 9:2-5)
It is this Meal that Wisdom calls you to. Now the fear of the Lord is wisdom. (Prov. 9:10) But wisdom is a wise, generous mother. (Prov. 9:1-6) A mother who comforts you when you’ve been lying on the side of road as the hit and run of your own bad choices. (Prov. 9:4, 6; Luke 14:21, 23) And as long as you think you’re still getting away with those choices; as long as the good times keep rolling, and the whiskey keeps flowing, and your still staggering around laughing you don’t think you need the brotherhood of the simple. The foolish. The ones lying in the ditches of the highways and byways of life. But when the party is over. When the piper must be paid his due. When you’re strung out on the highways of life looking for one more hit of your favourite sinful fix, then wisdom’s call unto you hits you with that ring of truth. It cuts to the heart. (Acts 2:37-38) It draws you to repent. (John 6:44) To recognize the error of your ways. It leads you in fear and trembling to the Lord. (Prov. 9:10) For though He is a stern judge, He is also a merciful Father who sent His beloved Son to ransom you from your sin.
He sends out his servants to keep calling you back to his Supper table. (Luke 14:17; Prov. 9:3) So that you might drink of Him and live.
And though you may be 5, 50 or 80, you are His dearly beloved children. And His call unto you is to be wise. (Prov. 9:4, 6) And wisdom means to come to Him. To be fed by Him. To learn of Him. (Matt. 11:29) To fear Him. (Prov. 9:10)
Now, my whole life we’ve been told, “Oh, fear means just be reverent.” Well, guess what? In a culture obsessed with familiarity and informality we don’t know what reverence is. Because part of reverence is a healthy knowledge of what’s really going on. That when you come to this sanctuary to receive the body and blood of the living God, you are coming to Him who says of Himself, not only, “God is love,” (1 John 4:8) but also, “I am a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29; Deut. 4:24) For guess what? The stronger the compassion, the stronger the protective instinct.
You don’t doubt that a momma bear loves her cubs when you get between her and them. But that is not a safe place to be. For the stronger you love, the more you want what is best for your beloved ones. The younger, and more fragile they are, the more fiercely you protect them and love on them, and sacrifice yourself for them. That means God is a consuming fire toward those who would damage or hurt His loved ones. He is fierce in love toward His hurting children. Toward those the world has left on the highways and hedgerows of life, strung out and tossed aside. He is all compassionate toward them. For them He is tender and merciful. Gathering them up, into His Church, into His house of healing. (Prov. 9:4; Luke 14:21, 23) Feeding them His bread of life and pouring on their wounds the oil of His seven-fold spirit, (Prov. 9:1b; Rev. 1:4, etc.) and the wine of His healing. (Luke 10:34) Building around them His home of protection. (Prov. 9:1) For in His sheepfold there is safety and security. (John 10:9-10)
It doesn't matter if the the world hates you. (1 John 3:13) You are not of this world. You are not of the family of murders, of the offspring of the devil, who was a murderer from the start. (1 John 3:15; John 8:44) You love the Father’s family. You love His Jesus’ brothers. (1 John 3:14) You are fed from His table. He sets His table before you in the presence of your enemies. And your cup overflows. (Ps. 23:5) He has to set his table in the midst of your enemies because guess what? Your enemies aren’t the world. They aren’t the economy of the moment. They aren’t flesh and blood foes. Your enemies are you. Your sin. And your demons. And Satan who wages war against your life in the Lord. So He sets His table here in your life. He calls you to it. He feeds you from it. And His mercy overflows to you. So that you are not foolish but wise. Wise unto salvation in Christ Jesus. (1 Cor. 1:18-19)
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church