Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes 9.27.09

What weighs down your heart?

It doesn't take long for us to realize how hard life can be, how harsh it can be. There's not much we can do about it - it's just the way the world is. And our response to this hardness, this harshness is what often contributes to a weighed-down heart.

How do people typically deal with the hard harshness of life? Some people are partyers, they live for the weekends. Wild-living is their way of reacting to a hard life. Some people become drunks and addicts - they seek to escape the harshness of life through a bottle or a needle or porn. And others become anxious, depressed, worried, listless - life's hardness prompts all sorts of fears in them. And maybe you can add to this general list - there are lots of ways for life's harshness to break people down, to weigh down their hearts, to bury their souls.

Jesus is very much aware of how hard and harsh life can be. And in this instruction to his disciples, he's trying to prepare them for coming events - preparing them to respond to harsh hardness in a way that elevates the heart, not way it down.

Here's the scenario: Jesus has come to Jerusalem as it's rightful king; he's spent the last year or so traveling to the city - healing people, feeding them, instructing them, caring for them. He's done nothing but good, spoke truth to power, empowered the marginalized, infused dignity into the down-and-out. He's poured out into his people only love.

But being wise, brilliant, discerning, etc. he also can see where political, economic, religious forces are sweeping his city. Despite Jesus' work in Israel, he can forsee the day - within a generation - when Rome will send in the siege-works to demolish Jerusalem. The people Jesus sought to save will pick up the sword against Rome, will rebel against the Empire, will call for blood - and it will be their doom. It is breaks the heart of Jesus - these are his people, his kingdom, and they are headed for desolation.

However - many people have listened to Jesus, they have come to trust him, they believe what he says about reality, and they are willing to follow his way of living in this hard and harsh world. So Jesus gives them instructions on how to endure the next generation, and how to survive the siege of Jerusalem when it happens. Jesus' followers will have to deal with persecution because of their allegiance to Jesus and their compassion for others. And when Rome comes to strike down the rebels, Jesus tells his followers to flee - head for the hills.

But Jesus cautions his followers - the next decades will not be easy; be careful or your hearts will get weighed down with the hard reality of life. Beware of dissipation - of debauchary, of wild living. Beware of drunkeness. Beware of anxiety. When life is harsh, respond in love. When life is hard, respond in trust. Love your enemies. Trust the way of God.

For us - we have maybe confessed trust in God, received forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, but still have a weighed down heart. We maybe deal with the harshness of life through occasional partying, or with some kind of addiction, or with anxiety. When we become aware of how we are responding destructively to the hardness of life - instead of condemning ourselves, it can be a wake up call.

Do you want to give up the party life? Do you want to give up the addictions? Do you want to give up the anxiety and depression? Then take your weighed-down heart and give more of it to God. Talk through with Him what is making your heart heavy - and be as honest and probing as you can. Do everything in your power to get wisdom on what is really going on. Do what it takes to get help and strength to keep hoping and trusting the way of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with having a weighed-down heart; it's what you do with it that can either force you further along the path of desolation or open up a new opportunity for redemption and restoration.

It's your choice... everyday it's your choice. Choose the way of Jesus everyday.

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