Is it a bird or a plane?

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17: 6-19.

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane….no it’s a duck”

That saying: “If it quacks like a duck, if it walks like a duck and if it looks like a duck-well it’s probably a duck” comes to mind upon hearing today’s scripture readings.

1st John “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son… And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is his Son. He who has the Son has life…I write things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you know that you have eternal life”.

These words of John, where did he get them-the inspired Word of God-well yes, the bible is the Word of God but what has Jesus told us in Todays Gospel: Jesus is praying/talking to God the Father and says this of his disciples: “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They know with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me”.

God testifies salvation and eternal life in the Son. The Son, Jesus, gives this testimony of this eternal life to the disciples, including John-and then John to us-that in believing in Jesus Christ the messiah-we have eternal life.

I would say the ducks have well and truly lined up. Sometimes the cold hard facts are the facts-believing in Jesus-you know with certainty that you have eternal life.

Yes, sometimes against what our mind tells us, the facts are the facts.

A few years ago I went to the Doctor. He asked the usual questions, Date of birth, age-39 (O.K. it was more than a few years ago). And as he was writing them down, he asked again “what did you say your date of birth was?” Again I answered. He then went on to say well if this is your date of birth, that means you’re only 38. As I protested he got out his calculator and showed me on a piece of paper his workings and indeed I was only 38 at which he said anyway “what can I do for you?”.

To which I replied “Well nothing now I feel brilliant, just book me in for the same time next year” and off I went.

Well Jesus tells us, and God by the way, that he is not giving just us another year, but never ending years-eternal life, and they don’t even charge a $22.50 gap fee. What a bargain. It’s a bit like that movie, “I’ll have whatever she’s having.

Knowing this, indeed we are poor helpless sinners-but we don’t need to be poor helpless miserable sinners. This is where Martin Luther was coming from when he used his famous quote “sin boldly”. Was he saying go out and purposely sin to throw it in the Lord’s face, absolutely not. He was talked about when he was, when we are under spiritual attack. When the forces of darkness see us sinning and suggest that because of our sin, we’ve blown it. Luther in saying “sin boldly” was not to test God, but to answer these allegations-to say yes I did sin-there you go I admit it and no doubt I’ll sin again, but that does not and will not change the rock solid promise I have, the promise that we have received from our Lord and saviour so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Romans chapter 8: For you are children of God… You did not receive a spirit that makes you again a slave to fear…The spirit himself testifies that we are God’s children. Now if we are children of God, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. Those who are saved are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus”.

At least with a walking, quacking duck there’s some subjectivity. It could be a Red Crested Diving Duck or just a low flying Mallard. But there is no subjectivity, no second guessing the Words of God that we have heard concerning eternal life.

In Jesus, eternal life is your inheritance. That cleared up, where to from here. Well don’t ask me, I don’t even know how old I am (or should I say young). So let’s ask Jesus? Today’s Gospel.

“I have given them your word..They are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world…As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world”.

In the world but not off the world. That seventy million dollar lottery two weeks ago, three winners. Do you think they are at home now worrying that the price of petrol is up four cents a litre? Eternal life in the bank-what’s to worry about?

Kerry Packer was in a casino in the United States and he seen this rather loud guy who everyone was gushing over and asked him, “You must be important, who are you?” to which he boasted “I’m worth fifty million dollars” to which Kerry replied “I’ll toss you for it”.

Eternal life, it’s in the bank and we carry it with us now-during our lives. But do we boast of it, shove it in other people’s faces. No, because as Saint Paul said, “we do not boast of ourselves. We boast only of the Lord”.

In the world but not of the world, how does this look. Are we to hide ourselves away in a monastery? To withdraw from society in prayer and meditation? This would sadly seem a reduced version of the faith that Jesus died to bring to this world. Of course there is need of prayer, meditation and quiet times when we shut the door to the world to be alone with God, absolutely-but we are still to be in the world.

So how does this look? Look in the mirror, that’s how it looks. Sometimes life is the six inches in front of our face. Christianity does not release us from our problems, it offers us a way to solve our problems or even live with them ala’ Paul when he asked God to “take away his thorn in the flesh”, only to be told “My grace is enough”.

Christianity does not offer us a life in which troubles are escaped and evaded; it offers us a life in which we can face our troubles.

However much it may be true that Christians, you and me are not to be of the world, it still remains true that it is within the world that we live out our lives as Christians.

Because of Christ, we don’t live of the world, likewise we live in the world because of the will of Christ. His will that all people may come to know him.

Our world, where we live in the six inches in front of our face. Living in our sin, amongst others sinners. Yet living with forgiven sin-in the freedom of knowing where it all ends, in eternal life. This freedom that lets us have a crack at befriending our neighbour across the road. The freedom that allows us to be ourselves, that allows us to live in our lives as they are under the sure and joyful knowledge-that, that face in the mirror belongs to a forgiven sinner, and that, that face in the mirror belongs to a person who living in the grace of God, and trusting in God, can go about their normal business-living in this world and truly trust and believe that even through us and our seemingly small or error ridiculed attempts of serving our Lord that others may come to see and know his peace-We can live joyously and just have a crack without the need to see any results-Because he has told us “That His Will, will be done”. Amen.

 

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