Giving Up – I am the Way
March 15, 2020 – Rev. Donnell T. Wyche
Giving Up – I am the Way… Giving Up – Self-Sufficiency #03
Good morning church. We are grateful for you and the gifts of God that you represent. As a church we partner with the liberating presence of God to cultivate joy, hope & belonging as Jesus invites us into freedom, keeps us free, and helps us free others. We pray that whether this is your first time with us this morning, or you’ve been a part of our community for a while, that you will feel the invitation of the Holy Spirit to join in with our vision. If you are looking for a church home, we would love to be your church home, and I, in particular would love to become your pastor.
This morning we are continuing in our Giving Up sermon series. Our text for this morning in found in John 14:1-14:
I am the way, the truth, and the life
giving up self-control and reliance
When we read the stories about Jesus and his friends, you quickly discover that Jesus is trying to invite those who have decided to follow him into a different kind of living. A life that is inter-connected, and dependent on his father. He’s doing that because that’s the way he lives his life. Inter-connected, and dependent and Jesus thinks that’s the best way to live life.
In John 14 there an interaction between Jesus and his disciples. John has Jesus predicting his death and Jesus wants his disciples to be prepared. When Jesus says this words, he has the cross in future.
Let’s read together in John 14:1-14
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2My Father’s house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
Immediately, you would be forgiven for not understanding why Jesus is talking about a large house, but let’s try to listen in. Don’t let your hearts be troubled, Jesus opens. He’s trying to reassure them. Have you had the experience of trying to convince someone that they won’t be a burden? Whether it’s offering someone some extra food, an extra bed, or to borrow something that you have that they need.
Often the exchange will go something like, you can stay in our guest bedroom.
The person in need, might reply, “Are you sure?”
Why do you think we do that? We need that extra bed. But we don’t want to be a burden. And who told us to think of ourselves as burdens in the first place. The Pharaohs in our lives. What I refer to as empire. These are the voices in our lives that try to convince us that God is selfish, cruel, capricious, and in competition with us.
Empire tells us that life is a burden, God says that life is a gift. But if the Empire is right and the burden of life is the problem, then, I am the problem since I am alive. This is the lie that the Empire tells us, we earn and produce everything that we have. The Empire wants to divide us into groups of producers and takers. Encouraging us to become a producer, but this isn’t entirely true. Sure, we can produce, but we have to realize that we also take. We often take, what we haven’t produced or earned. But I understand why the Empire tells us this lie of self-sufficiently because it feeds the ego, I want to believe that I am self-reliant and self-sufficient. I don’t need you, and more importantly, I don’t have an obligation to you. Because I am trying to solve the problem of my life.
And if I don’t you, or if you threaten my well-being or life, then being self-sufficient is the best way to live life. It removes my care, concern for you and focuses all of the attention on me and my well-being.
The goal of Empire is to break intimacy, to break our connection and bonds between each other, to get us to stop caring for, loving, supporting, and looking out for each other. Empire wants to convince us that there isn’t enough, “Hoard, so you have enough,” because when there’s not enough, we won’t see each other as participating in the shared humanity. We will see each other as competing for scarce resources forcing us to believe that our gains come from your losses. This is a part of the demonization and dehumanization campaign of Empire.
Jesus is trying to convince us and his disciples that God isn’t like that. Listen to what Jesus says, in my Father’s house is everything you need.
2My Father’s house has plenty of room; (John 14:2a)
You can trust me, he says.
If that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3)
But the Pharaohs of lives had their hooks in us. We reply to Jesus as Thomas does,
5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5)
This exchange is like what Pastor Marissa said a few weeks ago when she was walking us through John 6, Jesus was offering living bread, and the disciples were looking for their next meal. Here Jesus is saying it doesn’t all depend on you and Thomas is like, where’s this special house with room for all us. I’m happy to move out of my mom’s house, Jesus!
In one sense, you might say, “Thomas, you are missing the forest for the trees. You are missing the point.”
6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6-7)
Jesus is saying things are going to dicey, it’s going to be difficult, I’m not going to be here all of time, but look I’ve got your back. More than that, if I leave to go and prepare a place for you, I’m coming back to show you the way.
6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)
A lot of us are disappointment, sad, and maybe even a little scared. First, you are not alone. We are in this together. Remember what Pastor Vannae told us last week, it is not sinful to experience fear. As we face our fears, let’s be reminded that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Fear is not our inheritance. Love is. But we need something to do with our fear. My invitation is to give our fear to God, invite the Holy Spirit to be present to dissolve our fears in God’s love for us. I sent you an email yesterday with details on how start praying in this way.
And if you are willing there are ways for you to serve by helping feed the those who are hungry, by serving on our connections line, or by hosting a virtual meetup or bible study.