Retail Christianity

“Retail Christianity”

Luke 10: 38-42

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
One sentence of 21 words that defines the love of God the Father and the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A string of words that once understood, describe the most wonderful truth that any person on this earth will ever hear. The glorious truth of Christ being raised from the dead, that we too will be raised on our last day. The truth that when it comes is like a glorious sunrise. A new day and a new start.

Yet the majesty of that morning comes at a price. The price that the Father and Jesus suffered in the darkness of our sins as Jesus was ridiculed, beaten and hung on the cross, that the Son may rise for us. And the price, hurt and agony of the lostness in our lives that we had to feel and suffer to see the truth of our Saviour and understand those words of John 3:16 for ourselves.

The words and truth of the Gospel in a nutshell that we’ve somehow come to understand-and as we should, we thank the Lord in worship and in our lives in response to what he has done for us. The Gospel we know, and the Gospel we come to further understand from today’s account of Jesus meeting with Martha and Mary. A story that seems so simple that one may have wondered why it even gets a mention. Yet ironically I would suggest a story that maybe as much a challenge to us and the Churches as maybe any in the bible. A story of hearing him first without first screening his words with our own prejudices or what we think needs to be done.

Jesus the Lord himself and others visit the household of Martha, Mary and Lazarus-and all I see is Martha busy preparing meals of thanks and Mary doing nothing. For me, I once saw Martha’s response as right and Mary’s as not so, and yet who does Jesus see as acting the most appropriate-Mary. And in that, we see the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Gospel that asks nothing other than we listen to him and hear him alone and know the truth, and to trust in it. The Gospel that is so foreign to the humanity of Christians and Churches of all denominations that it makes us easy targets for the powers of darkness who wish to misconstrue the truth of Christ. To make us raise our arms in celebration and sing of our great faith and our love for him. Of how we will climb mountains for him. Of what we will do. Of we, we, we to make us believe that worship is all about thanking and serving the Lord instead of the main truth, that it’s about coming to receive his gifts: of hearing His sacred Word, Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of the alter.

The story of Martha and Mary is a story about getting things in the right order in our lives and a story about getting things right about Christ, and both those things are explained clearly to us in last week’s Gospel where Jesus appointed the seventy-two workers to go into the community in outreach and upon returning they are full of joy saying ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name’. And Jesus response, (yes), I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven”.

Similar Paul says “Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’”. Getting things in the right order is Christ first, during and at the end of our lives. We know that and the Churches know that, because that is the Gospel of the Lord that we read in the bible, the Word of God. Saved in the faith which we played no part in gaining, saved in faith in Jesus Christ alone is the Launchpad for everything we do in our lives and that’s why we must hear it over and over. Like Mary we must sit at the feet of Christ before we busy ourselves, because without Christ as our only compass we will get lost amongst the distractions of the world in which Daniel talks of in “the last days”: “For many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase”. This knowledge is not God Knowledge, but worldly knowledge and worldly learning. It is knowledge that is not based on the Word and wisdom of God but on our words and wisdoms.

Our words and wisdoms that not only are no help in knowing God’s will, but more than likely will lead us away from His will. Look at us today and what we can do in space travel and medicine. These things are amazing and the brain matter to bring these into play is a gift from God. We’ve been given the ability by God to be able to cure and extend peoples worldly lives in ways that were not long ago unfathomable, yet the world seems to be advocating that it’s also right and good if we choose these gifts to enable responsible death. It wasn’t long ago we looked on in wonder as we made it to the moon. But now there are “war” satellites and the cry of finding another planet to rape and pillage for its resources or even habitat instead of simply following God’s ways and living within our means here.

We live in a world where we take responsibility and boast of our triumphs yet blame or sue someone else for our failures. In living in God’s world and listening to ourselves and not him we see that we are still living in the Garden with the fallen Adam and Eve and with the builders constructing the tower of Babylon. We of the world are drug addicts intoxicated with me, myself I and unless we acknowledge our illness and turn back towards God and listen to Him we will continue to run to and fro looking for that unobtainable fulfilment in possessions, self-righteousness through works and retail Christianity. To turn back to God and sit at His feet alongside Mary and hear His Word and not ours or the worlds. To serve the creator and not the created is not part of the remedy to our addiction, it’s the only and full remedy for like a women can’t be half pregnant nor a person be half alcoholic-a person cannot half trust God.

We the Church live in the world under God’s word and not that of our own. We are either not saved in Christ alone or we are. God’s ways are either all wrong or all correct and we either fully trust him or we don’t, and unbelievably, our all-powerful God gives us the option to deny him. To deny him and believe we can partly save ourselves. To deny Him and only take those of His words that society and we want to hear into our lives is to suffer in this world by having to “win”, to live running anxiously to and fro. looking for answers but finding none that last, living with regrets and unanswered pain, and living with that emptiness that our ways cannot fill. Or we can heed His Word and His way of our salvation in faith in Jesus Christ alone. His Word and His way that allows us to respond to the world in our daily lives as those who rejoice that their names have been written in heaven. To rejoice in not having to do things for our Lord, but boast in Him when we do. To rejoice that given forgiveness,we can forgive others, and boast in him when we do. To rejoice that we can truly live each day under his grace, and boast in him when we do. To rejoice when like Mary we see his ways are the only ways and not those of the world. To rejoice when we see the need to sit at his feet alone. And to boast of him, when he alone teaches us how to stand. Amen.


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