Sermon – July 19, 2015 (Prayer Service)

John 15:18-23 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.

What began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned, is still ongoing today. The issue then was freedom: freedom from God, freedom from God’s authority, from God’s laws, freedom to be autonomous. The issue today is still freedom from God’s laws. The Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage states: “Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.” President Obama in his rose garden address shortly after the decision stated: “Slow steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt. This decision affirms what millions of Americans believe in their hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal we are all more free.”

Yes free. Freedom from marriage, from family obligations, from procreation. From the women’s rights movement seeking freedom from men, to the abortion movement seeking sexual freedom without accountability, to freedom to engage in sex with whomever you want regardless of marital status or sex; it is all a quest for freedom from morality, from God’s laws and freedom from being accountable to God. And it all began in the Garden of Eden.

No wonder Jesus says, “The world hates us.” Those who live according to God’s laws, who have faith in Jesus Christ, who proclaim his word to the world, are nothing more than a threat to this freedom from God which the world seeks. We are counter cultural. We do not participate fully in the life of the world around us. We do not participate in their sinful life style. We do not participate in their debauchery. We are an obstacle to human freedom and progress in their eyes. So they hate us.

They hate us because they hated Jesus. Jesus is God who came down from heaven and invaded this world with light. But those who live in darkness hate the light because it exposes their sin. They hated Jesus because they hate God, and they have been trying to get rid of God since Adam and Eve. So they tried to get rid of Jesus. They put him to death on a cross. They killed him and thought they had gotten rid of God. Now, they thought, they could finally be free.

But it didn’t work. Jesus rose from the dead. No, they failed in their attempt to get rid of God. We were one of them. Once we too were part of this world. We took part with them in their rebellious life style, in their sin, in their darkness. But it didn’t work. We could not get rid of God.

Rather God did something even more miraculous. He choose us out of this world. He chose to deliver us from the darkness of this evil generation. Even though we participated in this evil generation and walked according to the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, God, being rich in mercy because of his great love made us alive together with Christ. He grabbed us in baptism out of the world, out of this sinful generation and delivered us from death and made us his own possession. We were once part of this world, but by grace we have been saved and raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

So now you are not of the world, but of God. You have been born new, from above, begotten by God and are now his child. He chose you out of the world. Therefore the world hates you. As it sought to get rid of Jesus, it seeks to get rid of you. For the message you proclaim to the world binds them under God’s law. You do not participate in their sins and fleshly lusts. You are counter cultural because you have been chosen out of the world and have been born of God.

So you will face hatred, opposition, persecution, perhaps even martyrdom. You will be marginalized, ostracized, hated, persecuted. But in the end, the victory is won. Christ rose from the dead. You too shall be raised in and with Christ. There is resurrection. They could not get rid of God because he rose from the dead. They cannot get rid of you, for you shall raise from the dead. The victory has been won. Death has been overcome. It is no longer the end.

So you now, go “Onward [as] Christian Soldiers” go boldly into this dark and evil generation to be the light and the salt of the world. You stand bold in your proclamation of Christ. You stand in opposition to Satan’s kingdom and he cannot withstand you. The gates of hell cannot stand against the testimony of the Church. The word of God is a powerful weapon, sharper than a two edged sword. Wield it with skill, use it with humility, take hold of that sword in love to deliver those held captive by sin. For the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of salvation. It frees man from sin, it raises him from death, it delivers from Satan’s power. Amen.

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