Use Your Disillusion

Today’s sermon from North Presbyterian Church, Kalamazoo.

Click here to read the bulletin, including the biblical text.

Sermon Outline:

I.                   There are moments in life when the things we depend upon let us down

A.                 Economy, church, country, relationships: spouse/family/friends, self: body/soul

1.                  “What the heck just happened?”

B.                  We get disillusioned

1.                  Actually a good thing: “Dis-illusion”

2.                  In these moments, we get to find out where our faith really lies
Today’s gospel

II.                 “temple” “adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God”

A.                 Center of Jewish life: national/ethnic/religious

B.                  Literally “House of God”

1.                  “God (Ultimate Good) lives in this place”

III.              Jesus: “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

A.                 Offensive: Unpatriotic, sacrilegious, blasphemous

B.                  Unthinkable: “How would all of this work without it?”

IV.             Jesus elaborates

A.                 To the optimists: “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.”

1.                  Don’t be tricked by big personalities, making promises they can’t fulfill

B.                  To the pessimists: “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

1.                  It’s not the end of the world

C.                  “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.”

1.                  Not an apocalyptic vision

2.                  Just the way things are in this world: war, natural disaster, poverty, disease

3.                  Don’t freak out!

D.                 The believer’s place in all this: “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.”

1.                  Expect to be hated

2.                  Faith in God is always a threat to the status quo

a)                  Calls into question all the other little idols we are tempted to put our faith in

b)                  God is the only absolute; everything else is relative

V.                “This will give you an opportunity to testify.”

A.                 Learn to see disillusionment as an opportunity

B.                  Testify (like a witness in a courtroom)

1.                  Speak the truth about what really matters (the way it really is)

VI.             Testify how? “So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance”

A.                 Counterintuitive: Should pastors and lawyers really do this?

VII.           Why not? “for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.”

A.                 Because the truth you speak does not come from you yourself

1.                  You didn’t make this up

B.                  Grounded in reality itself

1.                  Comes from God, who needs no defender

2.                  Truth is truth, whether they choose to believe it or not

a)                  Constant, like the Law of Gravity

VIII.        Will they listen? “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name.”

A.                 No. People are selfish/sinful; choose to hear/believe what they want to hear/believe

B.                  In this broken world, all truth is an “inconvenient truth”

C.                  God’s truth has no ideology/party affiliation

IX.            “But not a hair of your head will perish.”

A.                In spite of being “put to death”

1.                  Interesting dichotomy: physical death/spiritual perishing

B.                Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

1.                  Fear a meaningless life, based on lies

C.                Mark 8:36: “For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

X.                “By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

A.                Spiritually alive, meaningful life, have the life that really counts

B.                  John 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live”

C.                Romero: “If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people.”

D.               Romans 8:35-39: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” 

1.                  Why: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

XI.              If you are feeling disillusioned today, do not fear/despair

A.                 All we have lost is our illusions

B.                  Christ id inviting you today to “use your disillusion”

C.                  Disillusionment is an opportunity

1.                  To find out for ourselves what it is that we really believe in

2.                  Knowing what we really believe in frees us speak truth to the powerful in the world

XII.           Jesus Christ came into this world to show humanity the heart of God

A.                 But we could not bear to listen

1.                  When we failed to silence him, we killed him

2.                  But God raised Jesus from the tomb, demonstrating once and for all (in the words of Desmond Tutu) that “Goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, life is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through God who loves us.”

XIII.         All of the lies in the world cannot falsify the truth of God, and all the powers of death in the world cannot overcome the power of God’s love, which has been poured out so abundantly for us in the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

XIV.        This is how I am able to stand before you today, disillusioned but unafraid

XV.          This is how we are able to stand before the dark powers of the world and proclaim the truth, with St. Paul:

A.                 “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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