The Gospel Story #1 Story
Eric & Sue
July 4, 2021
What is eternal life? The beauty about God is that he is earthy. He created us to have feelings, smell, substance…eternal will be like this, like him: substantial. The break between you and God, though, will be gone. He is earthy: laugh, engage, loving the way he made you. This must come through Jesus!
Jesus is fully God, fully human: this is eternal life. The only way to step into this is to declare him to be Lord. He is Lord, not us.
So we are in the Gospel series for three weeks: If you didn’t notice, it’s been rough. We needed to move out of the minor prophets into the Gospel: good news, victories of Jesus. We talk about this slightly differently: a story that we have to embrace, an ID that we embrace, and an invitation to live this out in His kingdom.
Sue and I talk about this all the time together. We could make this a year, but it will only be 3 weeks. It boils down to a story that we want to talk about. This is about the death of Sue’s mother.
I am Alone: Our daughter has a congenital defect in her back, scoliosis. We weren’t sure how bad it would be at first. You can’t take that out apparently. We had to wait for the adolescent growth spurt: 51-degree curvature that would only get worse. We went through with the surgery. In April 2018 she had a 7-vertebra surgery and a week of pain it the hospital. Sue wanted to talk with her mom about this, but her mom had died 3 weeks earlier: it was not cognitive awareness: it was head-to-toe emptiness because of the loss of habit.
We can experience aloneness in many ways. We know what it is to feel alone. The beauty of this is that we are not alone.
When Jesus’s birth is foretold in Matthew, Jesus’s name was Emmanuel “God with Us.” We need this tattooed on our nervous systems: GOD IS With US!!! You are not alone. When the angel tells Mary she will be pregnant (out of wedlock…. dangerous and lonely space). In the beginning when God announces Jesus, he provides Mary with Joseph, so she is not alone. He doesn’t this over and over again.
Exodus 13: after A and E are out of the garden, God tells his people that he will be present with them as fire by day and a cloud by night: Shakina Glory. (Shakina not in the Bible He caused his glory to dwell).
In Ps 46:11 People have known God’s presence.
In tumult, God says Be still and know that I am God: The Lord of hosts, the most mighty one, the commander of angels, is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold. We see this fleshed out in Jesus:
John 1:14: Jesus is referred to as the WORD (logos) the communication of God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld his glory. These two sentences contain the Shakina Glory coming into a human.
Jesus didn’t’ look different; he was just a guy. There would be moments of his glory and recognition. He was an earthy representation.
In the experiences of loneliness, the Gospel is saying You are NOT ALONE. John 1:14 screams this to us. God himself burst onto the scene and got dirty and muddy with us.
A shift: Our Demands. GIVE ME MORE. Our ancestors decided to be their own god. I have decided this, too. You have demands on me (as pastor here). The death we are tasting is understanding our life will end and the feeling that we cannot get rid of: our loneliness. You are the center of your world. This is not an uncommon message and it’s the truth we wrestle with every day. We are still in charge of our life and that is why the Gospel doesn’t work.
A while back, we covered Habakkuk and Mark wrote a song: We build idols and statues, we praise our works oh my oh my. How does this apply to Sue’s story about her mother? She must decide who she will depend on? Will she make a replacement for her mom? Replace her mom? Become like a turtle and be self-protective? It’s easy for us to still rule. These demands make it difficult to forgive and it makes community almost impossible.
A demand: A goal that requires someone else to accomplish it. Reframed goals: Unenforceable rules. They might be good rules but if we continue to enforce, we must keep track of the rules, and this leads to increased anger and relationship with the person. This is a concept that is related to whether we will have relationship with others and hinders our relationship with God.
Demands: To forgive them, I have to remove my demand from them. When you are caught up in this, the loneliness is exponential and dangerous.
How do you step out of demands and into the gospel?
Village: Story, ID, Kingdom. Most of you, even if you don’t believe them, don’t find change in these things. You still bump up against your loneliness and neediness over and over.
April 1: our weightlifting regime. My flexibility is low. I need to keep working on this to protect me from injury. I have found that we are also not flexible with the gospel.
The 33 years of Jesus were important: the bigger story reconciled with a day-to-day fleshing out. These stories are available in children’s bibles, too!
1. Having profession! One of my favorite scenes: To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life! This is a scene that we can enter into! Peter is saying there is nowhere else to go. It’s not something to say and move on: we must believe that the words of life come from Jesus? Do I believe there is another way to figure this out? I must make this proclamation with Peter. Will I have a demand or turn to Jesus?
As turmoil comes around us, no matter what else, life is only with Jesus. And I will profess this with Peter.
2. Reorientation: The cross is the most re-orienting part: Luke 23:24. We enter into the story as Jesus and as those who mocked Jesus. By my behavior, I am mocking Jesus. But if I can step into the story, I move from mocking to being mistreated. This is very powerful in marriage: God invites us in our marriages and friendship: we can take the full brunt of someone’s sin and reorient to Jesus. This is muddy and messy.
3. Rest: Matt 11:28-29. The burdens of our own demands are laid down and then we can experience rest for our souls in that space.
Sue’s mom was a woman of prayer and she learned as a child to make up praying songs. There are spacious times in childhood and there is loneliness. She spent time interacting with Jesus in these places. The lonely spaces became sustaining spaces. God is with us in the busy and hard time but also in the lonely spaces.
Eric’s story about Sue: She was doing her senior recital for piano. She is spiritually flexible.