“An offer too good to refuse”
Saturday morning, at the end of the Australia vs. Chile world cup soccer game in which we lost 3-1, an interviewer remarked to the Aussie goal scorer Tim Cahill that “though they had lost, he had played a great game.”
He responded “to play these games for Australia is a great honour” and then speaking metaphorically finished with “and when you’re invited, you have to turn up.”
What an honour it would be to represent our country, even if only just once in soccer, test cricket, rugby league or nik, nat, paddywhack.
To be invited and “turn up” as if our life depended on it.
What an honour it would be to soar to such heights and see all the hard work and the honing of skill had been worth it and be amongst the best of the best.
For most of us, those days have long gone and we never got to send back a RSVP and so slip back into our day to day “grind”.
If it was a dream, that’s all it was. Unlucky, didn’t want it hard enough or probably just not good enough.
Sounds like the story of my life. Maybe yours too. Not good enough, but seemingly to have been “good” enough to given an honour so much more greater and more precious than we can ever imagine when Christ tells us, that in him having been given “All authority in heaven and earth”, has turned to us and said so now you, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Jesus him very self has sent out the invite and we need to “turn up as if our life depended on it.”
So we suit up and break from the huddle ready to break through the lines, don the baggy green of righteousness ready to take on the 150 plus kilometre thunderbolts of life and “turn up.”
And then ready to rock and roll we have our Luther moment where the powers of darkness come to us as they did to him mocking and ridiculing our aspirations with taunts of “who do you think you are,” “you’re not good enough-your nothing,” and worst “you yourself are just another hopeless sinner.”
1st Peter tells us that “our enemy the devil” with his tricks of the trade of deception and lies “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So Peter adds be alert, vigilant and of sober mind that we hold firm.
Deceit, trickery and lies-so be alert to fend off these false accusations. We can do that because we know the truth of how this plays out. The results are in and Christ has won and we can see the lies for what they are. Faced with lies through personal strength of character and in good conscience we can turn away and think say what you want. But it’s not so easy when the lies aren’t lies, but the hard faced gut wrenching truth and see that our character is not of strength, but at best a flawed and blurred imagine of what we wish we were.
We like Luther face the truth “who do you think you are you flawed sinner to think that you could ever possibly help God do his business,” and yet, we too like Luther have been given authority to not run, but to turn and rebut not the character assignation, but to rebut the result and respond, “yes it is true, but I’m a forgiven sinner baptised and saved by grace.
Martin Luther when still overwrought by his sins and failures found the Gospel of Jesus Christ for himself-because he had too, and having found it became a great servant for the Lord. Eleven disciples, having run from Christ in his time of need are gathered together, hiding and poor in spirit from knowing they had left Him, feeling inadequate, confused and doubting. Then Jesus comes to them and says peace be with you and sends these same men without phone, Facebook or the world wide web at their disposal to take His message of forgiveness that they came to known first hand that a Church be built. The Church that now touches virtually every nation on earth.
C.S. Lewis said that “Miracles are a retelling of the letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.”
In knowing of Christ’s great love and His gift to us of being saved through faith in Him, and through faith in Him alone without any prerequisites of our own goodness or abilities may not seem like miracle, but the faith to believe it most certainly is.
Martin Luther, eleven disciples, you and me have all been given the prerequisite to go and make disciples and to bring them to baptism. The prerequisite that yes it may be true that we may seem to have little to offer, but in knowing that we are forgiven sinners, baptised in Christ and saved by grace we have everything to offer and just need to turn up.
In 1994, led by the spirit a group of Christians did that in venturing to Russia to distribute Bibles. While there a local citizen led them to an old warehouse that held many boxes of Bibles. They had been confiscated in the 1930’s when Stalin was sending Christians to the labour camps as prisoners. Amazingly, they were still there. So the volunteers arranged to use them. Among those who showed up to help load the truck to earn some income was a young agnostic, being a person that neither believe or disbelieves. Soon though he slipped away from the job and when a team member went looking for him, he found him sitting in a corner with a Bible he had taken from the boxes. He was crying because Bible he had picked up from the hundreds that were there was signed by his grandmother who had been persecuted for her faith. No doubt she had prayed for her family and probably for this grandson, and now all the years later, the Holy Spirit was using her Bible to bring him to faith.
A group asked to turn up and give away Bibles, and the Lord who showed up and changed a life.
The Lord has invited us to teach and bring others to know Him in Word and Sacrament and we need only open our hand and be led to those awaiting His Word.
Our business houses, our jobs, our families, the pubs, the clubs, the Church and its work. To these we go, as we are. Maybe not great in speech. Maybe shy and reluctant. But still we can go because we have been groomed throughout our lives to come to know the miracle of faith and in that faith we can go and attest to the love of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. And in that faith we go knowing of His promise to great and small missionaries of the past, and now to us, “That behold, (as you go) I am with you always to the end of the age.”
“Miracles are a retelling of the letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.” So we go and tell the story of our Saviour and His love, not in our need to be seen to do so, but in their need that they see Him also. Amen.