Sunday, May 14, 2023

“Does Anyone Know You Are A Christian?” The Gospel Message for Sunday, May 14, 2023 — Sixth Sunday of Easter

Our Gospel message comes to us today from the 14th chapter of John, beginning with the 15th verse, “Christ our advocate.”

14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:15-21)

“Does Anyone Know You Are a Christian?”

One of my favorite cartoon characters is Charlie Brown of the Peanuts family. He is, for me, the symbol of all human beings who face all the trials and trying circumstances of life. Charlie Brown is the one who knows what it is like to carry his own cross, to live in a world of brokenness, of failure, of trying and not succeeding, and hearing, again and again, the good news of the gospel from his friend Linus to see him through the rough times. I would like to share one of Charlie Brown’s adventures with Lucy as she pretends to be a psychiatrist, and Charlie is coming to her for help.

Charlie Brown is shown visiting Lucy, who is at her psychiatric stand, offering her help for a nickel. Charlie says, “I need help—tell me a great truth. Tell me something about living that will help me.”

Lucy asks, “Do you ever wake up at night and want a drink of water?”

“Sure,” responds Charlie Brown, “quite often.”

Lucy then says, “When you’re getting a drink of water in the dark, always rinse out the glass because there might be a bug in it. Five cents, please.”

Charlie walks away, saying, “Great truths are even more simple than I thought they were.”

Charlie Brown didn’t find the great truth he was looking for to help him make sense of the bewildering life he had to live.

In our gospel lesson today, Jesus talks about a great truth of life. In verses 15 and 21, Jesus talks about if one is a follower of His, that person will keep His commandments. He says in verse 15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” And in verse 21, he says, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Sandwiched in between these two verses is John’s account of Jesus talking about the coming of the Spirit, but we will deal with that on Pentecost.

What we want to look at today is our actions as Christians. Can someone tell you are a Christian by your actions?

An example:

“I’m a gambler. Oh, not the kind that frequents places behind doors in some secluded spot. Nor do I play the ponies or bet on sporting football games.

You see, I gamble with my soul as the stake. I’m betting that I can live a life of indifference, a life of neglect of those things that are of the Lord, and still receive His blessings.

I’m gambling with the souls of my children as the stake. Although I neither live righteously nor influence them toward unrighteousness, I’m betting their souls on the hope that they will have the wisdom to guide their own lives unto the Lord.

I’m betting that I can remain indifferent to Christ’s teachings, that I can fail to give as prospered, and that will still bless me eternally; I’m betting I can still have a nonchalant attitude toward the lost and still please God. Yes, I’m a gambler—the most reckless type: I’m a lukewarm Christian!!!”

Jesus is asking for committed Christians in our text. Ones who show by the action of their lives that they are keeping His commandments. And those commandments can be summed up very quickly, for Jesus only gave two commandments in the New Testament. One is to love the Lord Your God with all your mind and heart, and soul, and the other is to love your neighbor as yourself.

So, can people tell if you are a Christian by your example? I don’t mean you have to quit your job and go to some foreign land as a missionary, but can they tell by how you live your everyday life here and now?

What would you have done in the following:

When there was a USFL football league a long time ago, the following happened on live TV. The game was tied in the 4th quarter, so the captains met in the middle of the field to flip a coin to see who would get the ball first in the overtime, which was very important for the first one to score in the overtime period is the winner.

The official tossing the coin had a mike around his neck. The visitors called tails. The official flipped the coin, and it landed with the heads up. The official forgot what the visitors had called, so he said, “What did you call?”

Seeing the coin said heads, one of the captains said, “We called heads.” The other team tried to convince the official that the visitors had lied, and one of thee turned to the team running off the field, claiming they had the ball, and screamed, “But I thought you were Christians.”

The evening before, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes held a banquet, and many from that visiting team were in attendance, and many gave a witness about Christ. But I guess in sports, Christ is not as important as the saying of Vince Lombardi when he said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”

So would you have told the truth that you called tails, or would you have done what these self-proclaimed Christians did, lied to get ahead? What would you have done?

For you see, how we live expresses who we are in Christ. If we leave our Christian faith at the steps of the church when we leave on Sunday, and pick it up again on the way in the following Sunday, then we are not following Jesus’ words in our gospel lesson, for He wants us to be a follower of his every day and each hour that we live.

A closing story sums up the kind of life Jesus is calling us to live:

A farmer raised sheep, but next to him was one who grew wheat and raised children and large dogs. The dogs were always scaring the sheep and sometimes even eating the baby lambs.

The sheep farmer did not know what to do. He could shoot the dogs, or poison them, be nasty to his neighbor, or even take him to court.

He prayed about it. As soon as some new lambs were born, he gave one of the lambs to each of his neighbor’s children as a pet. They were thrilled.

Their father could no longer allow the dogs to run free, or they would kill the lambs, so the dogs were tied up. The two farmers became friends. Kindness and love made them winners.

Jesus says: “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Loving your neighbor is one of the commandments Jesus is talking about.

Living in Christ means living each day for Him and your neighbor.

Let us pray: Almighty God, our hope and strength. Without you, we falter. Help us follow Christ and live as Christians according to your will. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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Scripture is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Sermon contributed by Tim Zingale.
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