Sunday, 11 September 2011

Living LORDward: a Summertime One-Pager Sermon with reference to Romans 14: 1-12 and Mt 18: 23-35


In a few weeks I still intend, LORD willing, to focus for a while on the work and gifts of the Holy Spirit. But first, on this Ministry Fair and children’s ministry start-up Sunday I want to talk about positioning ourselves for that, to think about which way we’re facing. Am I living to the LORD, as Paul puts it in the reading from Romans? Am I living LORDward and what does that look like?
Romans 14:7–8 (NIV84)
7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is…that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living." From this idea came the title for Eugene H. Peterson’s work, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society on the Psalms of Ascent, Psalms 120-134 (I’m quoting from a review of the book by Chartley McMaster Bondurant).

What direction is that? To the LORD. I must live to the LORD. In other words my life must look LORDward. My life must look as if it is to the LORD I’m going. My life must be lived in His direction. Yours, too.

How can I live a life LORDward? To fear, be in reverent awe of, and trust in the LORD as we heard in Ex 14:31 and know what I owe.
Matthew 18:23–25 (NIV84)
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
The king is the LORD. I am the servant (slave). Ten thousand talents is somewhere between twelve million and a billion dollars in today’s money. More than I, too, could ever pay back. What to do?
Matthew 18:26 (NIV84)
26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’
I fall on my knees LORDward. I can’t even say, “Have patience with me,” because I know I simply cannot pay Him back for what he’s done for me. Ever. So I kneel in reverent awe, believe that Jesus is His son who died for me and my sins on the cross and confess my sins—humbly, acknowledging the immensity of my soul’s debt, my moral bankruptness and absolute lack of ability to put anything right without His help. I do this unconditionally knowing that if I don’t I am living, and will die, not to the LORD, but away from Him. Forever.

And then, wonder of wonders, the LORD promises to do what the king did for the slave:
Matthew 18:27 (NIV84)
27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
Pitied, in a good way, debt canceled (forgiven) and let go (released). For what?
To restart or begin my long obedience in the same direction, fearing and trusting in the LORD, living LORDwardly and forgiving from the heart.

There may well be something to help you with your long obedience in the LORDward direction in one of the Ministry Fair opportunities.