Sunday, July 1, 2018
Fifth Sunday after Trinity
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness…
In the Collect, we ask that the events of this world might follow God’s governance or will. Why? Because in those places where it does, we find happiness and joy. It is that simple, it means more, reflect on that. After all, amazing is it not? Since the Garden, it has always been one of the two same choices:
1. We follow God’s Will for us, we do what is good for us, individually and as a people or a country. It is hard work, but easier than we imagined; we prosper when all goes well. It was all our doing, we are happy because we were so smart.
2. We ignore God’s instructions, doing what we want to do, not what we are supposed to do. It turns out to be way harder than we thought possible, in the end everything turns to weasel spit. It was not our fault, it is God’s fault, He is punishing us.
As long as we are imperfect creatures with free will, humanity will not change. The key word in this phrase is will. The will of humanity is set towards embracing sin and running away from God. But there is the possibility that through the Holy Ghost, we as individuals can change and with enough individuals changing, the whole of humanity of change. Humanity would be better off if we fully embraced the principles found in the Gospel. However, there is a big obstacle to this: human nature. By our own nature, we are naturally resistant to embracing any kinds of change and most especially change from doing what we want to doing what God wants. We have to understand doing what God wants will be better for us in the long run than doing what we want.
How do we start changing our corner of the world? What is the best way for us to do so? Peter gives us some helpful hints on this very subject. He advises that we should be of be of one mind, have compassion and pity for each other, to be courteous, to give good to all our brethren, to return good for evil, to seek peace, to do good, not just talk good. Peter tells us we not only need to talk good, we need to act good as well. These qualities all will improve us, but first we need to let the Holy Ghost into our hearts and let Him help us in adding these qualities. Having compassion and pity for each other is a critical part of being a Christian. These are not qualities we normally have without the Holy Ghost. Being courteous and being good to everyone are also qualities that we lack without the Holy Ghost. These are key principles that will strengthen our spiritual character.
How can we get these qualities? We have to start first with ourselves and allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts to transform us. After we are transformed by the Holy Ghost, only then can we truly be able to help others. Then we can truly act with the one mind that Peter speaks about. It will not happen right away, but it is a steady and continuous process, in fact taking most, probably all, of our lifetime here on earth. But while we are being transformed, we can do our best to help others. To help others, we have to first put ourselves in others’ places, understand when they fall short and make good things happen.
The key word in off of this is to act! We need to act upon the teachings of Christ, and not just utter them and not do them. All of us, including myself struggle with this, but as long as we are DOING our best, and not just saying it, that is all He asks of us. We cannot do more than our best. We must be doing our best and not just faking doing our best. There is a significant difference between the two. If you are sincere, people will know it. If you are not sincere, people will also know it too. As they say, actions speak louder than words. And to paraphrase Scripture, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. To understand where a person’s heart is, look at their actions and not their words. Words are meaningless unless they are backed up by actions. We need to perform good actions, with the help of the Holy Ghost, to show that we truly believe.
So, just how do we make good things happen? Fairly simple, if we follow the Summary of the Law and all shall be well in our lives. Every one of the moral laws hangs off of the Summary of the Law “Love your God with all your heart soul and your mind, and Love thy Neighbor as thyself.”. These two simple, but important, laws are the ultimate benchmark for us, which we should try and do our best to meet. We need to check our actions and compare them against these two to measure our spiritual progress.
If you think about it, all of our problems can be solved by doing what God asks! Don’t try to get out of doing what God wants to do what you want, and don’t look for loopholes. Don’t be a Pharisee! Consider when Jesus told Simon Peter to go out and set his nets. Simon was tired, he was hungry, he had fished all night with no result. After making excuses, he decided to do what he was told! There is a lesson there, instead of making excuses why things are the way they are, why not be quiet and do God’s will instead? It will have a lot better result, that is for sure!
That is what happened to Simon Peter; that is what will happen to you, if you will but listen and act. Listening and then acting are the key principles of this Gospel, we must listen to what He says, and then ACT upon it.
Do not misunderstand, every day Jesus speaks to you telling you what to do. It is your choice, you can listen like Simon Peter or you can ignore Jesus. He has the pony for the lottery. He wants to give it to you, all you have to do is accept. While He is a bit more subtle than a Drill Instructor, the question is the same, “Can you hear me?” The problem with us is that we just do not want to hear. That is why we need the Holy Ghost to open up our ears, that we might hear and obey.
There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.
Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail. The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.
The time is now, not tomorrow. The time has come, indeed. How will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God