“I Believed, and So I Spoke”
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35
Breaking up is a hard thing to do. Whether it’s a relationship, a business, a family, a church, there is a lot of pain when something comes apart. Whether the split is because of personality or maybe it’s philosophical differences, it’s very rarely a happy occasion.
If we are supposed to be working together, if we’re supposed to be a single unit, a team, then division is bad. Division creates resentment, it breaks down trust, it creates animosity, it leads to gossip and other unfriendly behaviours. At which point, the team breaks apart. It can’t function as an effective unit any longer. Things either have to change, or the organization will cease to exist.
In our reading from Mark this morning, Jesus is being accused of a variety of things. But first, I need to set some context because it began in a very awkward spot.
The reading began in Mark 3:20 by saying, “Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat.”
When I picked up the reading to begin to preparing for this morning, I was stuck on this very first verse because it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Who is ‘he’, who is ‘the crowd’ and who couldn’t eat and why?
So I had to back up a bit earlier in the Gospel of Mark to see what was happening. What happens is Jesus has spent time healing and teaching many people. When it was time to leave, he gathered his disciples and took them up a mountain and prayed over them so they may be able to preach and cast out demons. Once they come down the mountain, they return to their home in order to have a meal together.
But word spreads quickly that Jesus is home, and the crowd fills the house so they are unable to eat. When his family hears of all that is going on, they make their way to the house in order to seize him because they fear for his health, their primary concern is he may be losing his mind.
Remember this is very early on in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He has just prayed over his freshly recruited disciples. He’s just begun teaching and healing in the streets. Word is just getting out about this new prophet in town.
Immediately people begin to see him as a threat. He’s doing things people haven’t seen before. They start to get scared and try to pin labels on him. “He’s crazy!” “He’s possessed by the devil!”
So Jesus sets them straight. How can a demon cast out a demon? How can someone create division and still function as a team?
We see examples of this all the time. In politics, in business, in churches, in our families… you want to put a end to something, create division in the leadership.
There’s no question the church is in a huge state of flux right now. We have built these buildings all over the place. Places that once were full are now but shadows and reminders of days gone by.
So much has changed.
Spiritual journeys have changed. People have died. People have moved. Others have given up, usually due to division in the church. What’s quite evident is that if we are going to continue in this way, there will be no one left in our buildings.
I’m becoming increasingly aware, through reading, conversations and my own personal reflection on what the church means to me is that there are two competing views of the church.
There are the people like those of us gathered here today and say, “This is church for me. Give me the old hymns. Give me the old building, the old prayers, the standard that has existed for the last few generations.”
There are also people outside of our church, and even a few on the inside who are saying, “This is it?! This is what you have to offer me? I want nothing to do with this, I want to live the life Jesus is calling me to live. I want to be active. I want to make a real difference in the lives of people.”
As you can see, these are two very different views.
So. which one is wrong?
We all have different needs when it comes to the church. There are people at certain points in their lives where we need the quiet rhythm of tradition.
Then there are others who need, or who have energy to be active. There’s no right or wrong, the problem is that we are just in two different places in our lives. There is more than enough room for both in God’s plan. In fact, it probably is God’s plan.
We need to be united. We need to be supportive of each other, it’s the only way we can work together in the name of God. As young people we need the support and encouragement of our elders. As elders, we need to know the work of the church is continuing, even if it’s in a way we don’t recognize.
The work of the Spirit is not about you or me. It’s not about splitting the church apart because we can’t understand or communicate with each other. The work of the Spirit manifests itself in different ways depending on what we bring. What skills we have, our age, our abilities, our passions and desires. These are the things God uses in the world, no matter who we are, or where we are in our life.
When those gathered in the house with Jesus said his mother and brothers were outside calling for him, Jesus said, “Who are my mother and brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
We are all one family of God. We are united together through our belief in Jesus Christ, and our desire to follow him.
This is how we grow in faith. This is how we get excited about the things God is doing in our lives and in our communities through the work of others. We get excited because God is continually doing a new thing in us when we follow His Son, Jesus Christ and turn our hearts to Him.
As Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians,
“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
This is our ultimate goal, to be with God in the heavens. To live in the promise he made to us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
All of this because we put our faith in One who is unseen yet still creating and working in the world today. We put our faith in God who has spoken to us through the prophets for thousands of years, calling us into a relationship with God which is based on love. Love shown to us by the sending of His Son to the earth. From there we seek to learn and live by what he taught us.
We can only be who God has created us to be, yet we are all brothers and sisters through Christ. We all carry the Holy Spirit within us which leads us to speak in truth as to what God is doing in our lives and in our world.
It is through our faith in God through Jesus Christ we believe. And it’s because of this belief we are strengthened, comforted, encouraged, moved to respond.
In the words quoted by Paul, which came from Psalm 116, “I believed, and so I spoke.”
Through our faith we cannot keep silent. We cannot help but speak of what God has done in our lives hoping to inspire others to embrace the love of God which has been so freely given to us.
If we believe what we profess, that Christ is risen and preparing a place for us in the glory of heaven, then this is what we speak of.
There is no greater reward, no great privilege than knowing God’s love in our lives. Knowing we are brothers and sisters of the Risen Christ, who offers us his life in return for ours.
Let us be members of Christ’s family. Brothers and sisters together living as Christ has called us to live. Loving one another. Sharing with one another. Supporting and caring for one another. Living in unity together, people of all ages, of all abilities, let us be one family of God.
And in doing so, let us lift up Jesus Christ, our hope, our Saviour, to all people, all generations, all people of God.
Photo from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1362732