Monday, August 20, 2018

Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 19, 2018

Sermon: “VISIBLE”

I have been a nominal comic book fan most of my life.  I was never a collector or a regular reader of comics but I have loved watching the cartoon exploits of the Justice League, Spider Man and Captain America or the TV and movie adventures of The Incredible Hulk, Superman and The Avengers just to name a few. 

I would marvel (no pun intended) at the abilities and powers possessed by these heroes and I always wondered what it would be like to have some of the talents they had.

With the popularity of comic book universes blowing up in society today the idea of people possessing otherworldly power and ability has captivated culture.

I’m sure at some point you have had the discussion or read a post or article debating what is the best super power or asking what ability would you like to possess. 

Last week in worship, Pastor Kritzer asked you what Divine characteristics you might like to have; but allow me to open that up a bit and ask you, “What super power do you wish you had?” 

The next question is a big one and I want you to think about it.  Will you use your power for good, or for evil?

One of the most popular responses to questions like this is invisibility.  The power not to be seen can be very alluring.  The ability to not be seen, appeals to many because of what it seemingly allows.  To be invisible means that the rules and constraints that would normally limit or mitigate behavior are stripped away and the freedom to do something or go somewhere are made available.  But will you use it for good, or for evil?

Being visible means being known, invisibility gives a sense of anonymity.  

Our sinful nature loves the idea of invisibility, the idea that we can act however we feel or choose with no consequences, no repercussions. 

How often do you operate this way?  It’s just a little sin, no one will ever notice.  Oh, it’s no big deal, no one saw it anyway.  Just because no one sees, does that make it any less sinful?

I can only speak for myself, but often are the times I have tried to live an invisible life without anyone ever knowing what really goes on.  But God does. 

Open your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 5 starting with verse 6:
 Don’t let anyone deceive you with meaningless words. It is because of sins like these that God’s anger comes to those who refuse to obey him. Don’t be partners with them. Once you lived in the dark, but now the Lord has filled you with light. Live as children who have light.  Light produces everything that is good, that has God’s approval, and that is true. Determine which things please the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the useless works that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are.  It is shameful to talk about what some people do in secret. Light exposes the true character of everything because light makes everything easy to see.” (Ephesians 5:6-14a) 

The NIV translation renders verse 13 this way, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” (Ephesians 5:13)

The light of God’s law shines brightly in our lives, it provides a guide for living, but it also exposes and makes visible all our sin and wretchedness.  That should make you a little bit uncomfortable.  Being exposed is not a positive thing.  If other people knew you the way that God knows you, they would never spend time with you.

But listen to Paul’s words again from verses 8 & 9, “Once you lived in the dark, but now the Lord has filled you with light. Live as children who have light.  Light produces everything that is good, that has God’s approval, and that is true.  (Ephesians 5:8-9)

Notice that it is in the past tense, “Once you lived…”  Something has happened in your past that has changed your life.  God’s light has made you visible, for Jesus Himself now resides in all who have been called to faith in Him. 

Listen to the words of Christ Himself recorded for us in the 12th chapter of John’s Gospel, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me. Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.  I am the light that has come into the world so that everyone who believes in me will not live in the dark.” (John 12:44b-46)

It was God Himself who became visible in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  As He walked and talked, as He healed and helped, the light of the World came to expose sin and to restore lives. 

This is what Paul wrote to the Colossians:
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15-16; 19-20)

Our natural inclination is to live in darkness, but God desires you to live with Him forever in eternal light and bliss.  So, He sent the light of the world to make you visible. 

Our sin and deeds of the dark only lead to death. 

It was your sin, and mine, that nailed Jesus to the cross.  It was the darkness of sin that sealed His doom, not His own, but that of all humanity and when He rose from the dead He defeated the power of the darkness forever.

In our baptism, we die to sin and rise with Christ to new life.  That is what Paul is getting to when He quotes what many believe to be an old hymn, “Wake up, sleeper! Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14b)

In this life of faith, the invisible become visible. 

The invisible is visible every time you pick up your Bible to read the Word or hear it proclaimed in this place.

The invisible becomes visible when that Word is connected to water and something amazing happens as faith is formed. 

The invisible becomes visible when God comes to you in, with, and under the bread and the wine in His body and blood in His supper. 

And the invisible becomes visible when you leave this place and become the hands and feet of Jesus. 

Our God works through means and this means you and me.  His works become visible to others through us.  His words become real in our actions.  We become the visible means by which others encounter the light of God.

This is the best and most powerful witness to the light that shines in and through you.  It’s His power working for good in the world. In some ways you do have a super power, its His Divine power working through you so that we may all live in the light, now and in eternity.
-Pastor Seth Moorman


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