Pastor April's Sermon from June 26, 2011 - Matthew 10:40-42

In order to understand today’s Scripture, I need to say a few brief things – Chapter 10 of Matthew is a commissioning speech that Jesus is making to his disciples.  He has finished a long series of teachings about what it means to be a follower of his and now he is sending them out to do this work themselves.

These 3 verses are the last verses of this commissioning.  The last words that they hear before he sends them off.

And so as we think about what Jesus is saying here, I want to tell 2 stories.

I want to start with the disciples.

Here was this group of guys.  They weren’t really much to write home about.  Most of them had worked down at the docks, one of them had gone door to door collecting tax money, and one of them – well, no one was quite sure whether he could entirely be trusted.  They had gone to school but at some point it was clear that they were better off leaving school and getting a job, making a living.

And so that’s what they did.  They fished and they collected money and each day was a lot like the day before.

UNTIL.

Until one day this man came to see them.  They had heard about him.  He had been hanging around town.  He was so smart.  He talked about things in a different way.  He gave people hope about the future.

But this man, he came to see them. As if he knew them already.  And he just looked at them and he said – FOLLOW ME.

Because this man… he saw something in each of them.  Something that others might have missed.  Something that they themselves might not have even realized.  He saw the potential for what each of them could be.  He saw them not for who they were at that exact moment but for who they would become.

So much so that he gathered this group of men, he taught them everything he knew.  He healed, he preached, he performed miracles.  He showed them a worldview they had never seen.  And he talked about hope.  In a way that they hadn’t heard before.

And if that wasn’t enough.  Amidst all the miracles and the teaching and the instruction, he made this audacious decision to actually commission this group to go out and do the same things he was doing.  To heal, to teach, to share the good news and to do so with authority.  He told them how hard it would be, he told them that it would mean leaving much of their given life behind, but he also told them that they could do this.

He gave their lives a purpose, he gave their lives a new meaning and he helped them to see what they could become and set them on a new path.

And when they did – we hear the words in v. 40 today – that when people received them on their journey, into their homes, that people would actually be receiving Jesus.  That in essence, they would be Christ to those people.  That when people met them, saw them, received them, they would meet and see and receive Christ.

People would see them and they would see God.

And this ragtag group of disciples said Yes.  They said they would do it.

And they changed the very future of the world.

There’s another story of another young man I want you to know about.

He was the oldest of 5 children.  His mother, a single mom, didn’t have much but she did love her kids.  They didn’t grow up with a lot of money or resources.  And the young man went to school and he struggled.  He didn’t like reading, he struggled with it.  He often found himself in trouble and staying focused on school and his future was often the last of his priorities.  But then there came a person who saw something different in this young man – Something that others might have missed.  Something that this young man might not have even realized.  This person saw the potential for what he could be.  This person saw him not for who he was at that exact moment but for who he would become.

And things began to change.  Reading still wasn’t easy, but it was getting better.  With a lot of hard work and the help of this person and others who believed in him, this young man got into college at OSU and began to discover a different trajectory for his own life.  Along this journey, his faith in Jesus was reawakened and through all the hardship began to understand a greater purpose for his own life and what he could do.  Not only does he read now for pleasure, but he writes – poetry!

And this summer, this young man is working with us at the Freedom School, working with a group of incredible young people – teaching them that they can do the same with their own lives, that they can also learn to love to ready, that they can achieve their goals even when it’s hard and no one sees in them the future that God sees.  And each day of the summer, there is an opportunity for the students of this classroom through the love and care of this young man, to see Jesus in him.

And because this young man said yes.  The lives of these young people will look different.

So – I want to say a couple of things – maybe there hasn’t been a person ever in your life that has told you that they see things in you that others have missed.  Maybe there hasn’t been a moment where you felt a person or even the spirit of God telling you that the purposes for which you were created are so much bigger than you might have imagined.  If that’s true, then I want to say that to each of you.  Every single one of us was born into this world a unique and beautiful creation, ready to bring forth incredible things.  Things that only you can do.  And if you don’t know that about yourself, you need to.  Because that’s the kind of creative work that God is in the business of.

And for those of us who know that – or who have known that about ourselves, I think it’s safe to say that we need to be reminded about this.  We need to be reminded that we are created with love and with purpose because the truth is that things get really hard.  Somedays we get bogged down with the details and the annoying frustrations of life.  And somedays we face challenges that seem insurmountable / and we just can’t see to the other side of it.

And so we need to be reminded to keep moving forward  - to keep believing that God has created us to do good and beautiful and tremendous things in the world.  That the things we do each day and the work

When I was younger, I used to complain that it wasn’t fair that the disciples actually got to meet Jesus.  I would say – it would be SO much easier to believe and trust if I had actually met God.

But as I grew, I realized that this was actually kind of just a cop-out – because the truth is – I had met Jesus in person.  I met Jesus in my godmother, in my father, in my Sunday School teacher, in my friend, in a woman I met one time in a coffee shop.  I had met Jesus in person all over the place and all throughout my life.  Countless people who reflected back to me the love and truth of God.  When I looked at them, I saw God.  When I received them, I received God.

And that’s us – that’s the call –

And I know it’s hard.  Last week, we made some great strides toward living this out by talking about the way we represent Christ with our words.  We worked on thinking about holding our tongues and refraining from our complaints of others and speaking ill of them.  This will go a long way to helping us be Christ’s representatives in the world in a fuller way.

And so as you think about your words and your behavior this week.  I just want to leave you with the question – Who will meet Jesus this week in you?  Who will see you this week and also see God?  Maybe through something you say or do not say.  Maybe the time you take to listen.  Maybe the care you offer to someone right at the moment they need it.

Who is it that will see Jesus in you?  For whom will you be Christ’s representative in the world – right where you are, in the places where you already find yourself.

Who will see God in you?