Sunday, 2 September 2012

Serenity and wholeness in life with God – step 3 Surrender

Pentecost 14 year B Sermon
Abba if it’s possible, take this cup from me, 
but not my will… but yours… be done.  [pause]

Jesus didn’t run from the Garden of Gethsemane
in hysterical fear…and hide from the inevitable consequences of speaking the truth to political and religious powers.

Instead… when he was overwhelmed with
the weight of sorrow heavy enough to crush him…
Jesus sought guidance and strength from his beloved Abba …his divine parent.

But Jesus’ enemies were determined to execute him…
and because of the freedom God gives human kind,
their actions were outside Jesus’ control.

And so in faithful surrender Jesus hands over
his will and his life… to the care of God.

Jesus had tried to change what he could…
about our understanding of God’s will
who God really is…how God loves humanity…was
revealed in everything Jesus did.

How his friends and enemies responded…was their free choice… and outside Jesus’ power to change. The scene in the Garden before his arrest…is a classic illustration…
of the steps we’ve been learning…the spiritual tools
which come from the life and teaching of Jesus…
twelve steps toward serenity and wholeness in life with God.
The first step in this teaching series is about wisdom to cling to…as we pray to discern… what is and isn’t
within in our power to control.

The second step is restoration that we ask God for …
as we come to believe… that God can and will
restore us to wholeness.

We now understand that the illusion of control…
actually prolongs our pain…and that t
here can be no wholeness and healing…
as long as we refuse to take these steps…

When we take the first step we admit something
about ourselves and when we take the second
we accept something about God

And in taking these steps… we learn to reject two lies
two false beliefs…which get in the way of accepting…
that God can and will restore us…

One is the lie…we should have enough faith already...
to get through anything…without asking God for help
And the second lie …is the false belief…
that we’re so unique… we can’t be helped…even by God. We think God’s help is there for some, but not for us.
And that’s a lie.

Having taken the first two steps…having rejected the false beliefs that get in our way… we’re now ready to take
the third step.

It is the step Jesus takes in the Garden of Gethsemane.
A step
Paul recommends in his letter to the Romans
offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Don’t conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing your ideas. Then you’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is —God’s good…pleasing and perfect will.

And so in taking step three… we surrender  all [pause]

And we turn our will and our lives…
over to the care of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
On a moment by moment basis… we learn to surrender our will and our lives… 100% to the care of God.

And this step isn’t a once and for all step...we have to practise it over and over again. And that’s because…while some may find this step as easy as breathing… for most of us… it’s not that simple…

that’s because some of us suffer from
what you could call…self-will run riot. We live in the kingdom of self…Often we want to harness God to the service of our will… rather than surrender our will and our lives to God. We want our will to be done and we often confuse our will with God’s will.

We develop a nagging fear of what would happen…
were we to surrender completely to the care of God.

And you know what
sometimes the thing we fear most is our own feelings…we fear feeling disappointment or failure …we fear the feeling of anxiety or confusion… we try to protect ourselves from the feeling of being wrong

We may fear anything that challenges our ideas
can’t be from God. We may refuse to surrender our thinking to a new insight from God. We refuse to make way for God’s guidance and healing.

And this amounts to a refusal to be teachable.
A refusal to trust… God’s wisdom and guidance over our own.
Yet that’s exactly what Paul begs the Roman Christians to do

be transformed
by the renewing your ideas
Then you’ll be able to test and approve
what God’s will is - 
his good, pleasing and perfect will

We forget that God’s perfect love… casts out fear…

And fear stifles our ability to creatively serve God in our daily lives . Fear can paralyse us or lead us to put things off… rather than trying something or risking something and leaving the outcome in God’s hands.
Fear makes us forget that it’s ok to fail!

Fear can stop us from making friends with people who
don’t know Jesus. Fear makes us forget the whole book of Acts…makes us forget Paul’s speech to the pagans in Athens …fear stops us from responding… to questions asked by people who are spiritually seeking…fear stops us from modelling the love of Jesus.

A good question to ask yourself if you’re reluctant to hand your will and your life to the care of God 100%... is this,
‘What are you afraid of losing?’

Such fear is much worse in New Zealand’s secular culture, and you can pretty well presume… that some form of fear is the major and controlling "demon"… of every individual and every group that lives without God.

And that’s because when you don’t believe in a loving God, there’s absolutely no one… to whom you can release your fears. In fact there’s no reason to surrender anything, and every reason to hold on to and even hoard…all that you have

And even for those of us who believe in the loving compassionate God…. revealed in Jesus Christ…
the process of surrender is impossible… unless we are prepared to face and even "suffer" our actual fears.
We have name them so their lies can be exposed.

We have to name what we’re afraid of losing if we surrender our will and our life to the care of God. Is it our reputation, our status, our security, our identity...or is it control?

Only when we name our demons can we surrender them to God and cast them away from us.
Surrender our authority over these to where it belongs...
to Jesus...
who is given authority over all things in heaven and on earth.

But don’t most of us want to negotiate with God rather than surrender completely to God’s will. And this is why it’s a process…we have to practise surrendering our will and our lives to God’s on a moment by moment basis…five minutes at a time or one day at a time.

We can trust Paul’s words that God can work for good in any situation…we can ask ourselves what we are afraid of losing by handing a situation or a person over to the care of God.

This third step comes also comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount when he taught his friends to pray…
 ‘your will be done…your kingdom come on earth as it is in heave’.

The third step toward serenity and wholeness in life with God involves a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God revealed in Jesus Christ. But this is not a once a for all step…like redemption…its an everyday thing…you may have to practise it for a long time before you can release your will 100% instead of 98 or 99%. But if you pray for the willingness to take these steps you will find it easier to:
Let go and let God.

Let us pray the Lord’s prayer again together.