Sermon Feb 13th 2022


As a Christian, and more so as a minister, I’m often accused, either directly, or implicitly of being naïve, that the idea of faith, that the principles of Christian love are some sort of pie in the sky idea that does not reflect the reality of the world. That they think Christianity is black and white, a list of don’t do this and don’t do that, and  if you obey that then you’ll go to heaven, if not be destined to hell.

And that’s not just from people outside the church, some within accuse me of idealistic, unrealistic ideas, a cushioned reality, an impractical vision of what might be.


From a worldly of view, they are all probably quite justified in those accusations or whispered thoughts. But a faith in Christ is, by very definition, otherworldly, whilst also being of and in this world.


For the psalmist, it appears, it was all pretty black and white; Blessed are those who walk in the way of the Lord, obey his laws, cursed are the wicked who will be blown away like chaff in the wind. Hard to assimilate with real life when we are considering the Holocaust we remembered a couple of weeks back or look at the horrors of Yemen today.

For Jeremiah, there’s perhaps a little more of a reality check. Judah had tried an alliance with Egypt to overthrow the Babylonians, the opposite had happened, Judah had been overthrown and exiled. Trusting in man, even for those with faith in God ( however fractured that had been at the time) led to disaster.

 If all had trusted God, obeyed his laws, none of that would have happened, Jeremiah believed. But, with our knowledge of history that too, in worldly terms often doesn’t seem to have happened.


Jesus got this, he recognised that the world was a place where God was second place to mankind’s desire, it had been a theme through the whole of the Old Testament, right from the allegorical story of Adam and Eve, But he came to change perceptions, to re-establish God’s real law, God’s law of love. Make it possible. And he was turning the ideas about God, about faith upside down.


The last couple of weeks, as we’ve followed the early ministry of Jesus in Luke’s gospel we’ve seen Jesus quote Isaiah as he said he came to save the poor, heal the sick, release captives and declare the year of jubilee. Not for those religious people who thought God was only for them, but for all,and also for forgiving debts, the idea of jubilee, when all the religious of the day concentrated on was sacrifice to obviate the debt of sin. And then last week demonstrating the abundance of God’s love and calling disciples to follow, to trust in him.


 And then now, -now the preaching and teaching begins. And the healing of mind, body and spirit flows out from him- “power was coming from him and healing them all” Luke says in verse 19. It was a power that came from the unification of God’s Spirit with him, that came from him spending, prior to this passage, all night on the mountain praying to God.

It's other worldly, supernatural, turns over the natural world of sickness and disability.


And then, he speaks with the same power of the Spirit he heals with and then as he speaks, then too, the natural ways of this world are turned over, reversed.

Blessed are the poor

Blessed are those who hunger

Blessed are those who weep

Blessed are you when people hate you.


How, how can that be? In worldly terms, the exact opposite. In Godly terms, the deepest truth, echoes of Isaiah, but too, in a revelatory context echoing the words of Jeremiah -blessed is the one who trusts in the lord, or the psalmist, blessed is he who meditates on God’s law, day and night.


Which is why I have no problem with those, of this world, who accuse me of naivety or unrealistic views, opinions or hopes. Because I, like other Christians am not seeking what the world has, what the world seeks. Jesus says woe to the rich, those who laugh now, those who are well fed, because the things of this world are short lived and temporary, as easily gone as they are there. But God’s love is constant, God’s grace is constant, God’s mercy is constant and because of that, trusting fully in God brings blessings even amongst adversity, suffering, even death.


Controversial stuff, stuff that got Christ killed ultimately, but never killed the truth or the hope, or the love.

But the reality of living that truth, that love within the world in which we are placed, a world which, on the whole is secular and doesn’t recognise that truth, is not easy. Accusations of naivety or irrelevance are one thing, but when it leads to persecution and death, the true otherworldly nature of trust in God and living by God’s law is hard to accept, even if we believe we are blessed because of Jesus’ words.


So, as Christians, how do we do it? How do we follow Christ as we heard his disciples did last week, how do we trust God as Jeremiah and the Psalmist extort, how do we receive those blessings of Christ amongst adversity and the difficulties of life?

We do as Christ did. “What would Jesus do?”, the bracelets and jumpers of 80’s Christians used to say. Well, as Luke tells us just before our reding this morning, he spent all night in the mountains praying.

All night.

And when he came down from the mountain the power flowed out from him and all were healed. And then the power flowed out from him in his teaching, in his words- so powerful that 2000 years later we read and consider those same words today.


Praying, really praying and meditating on the law, the words of God is, says the psalmist, says Jeremiah, is like being a tree planted by a stream. Your roots are fed continuously with the water of life, the power of the Spirit, the love of God.

 And you grow tall in faith and provide shade and nurture for those more fragile plants at your feet, and in that shade they too can drink from the water that derives from that same stream, can grow their roots deep and thrive. And we do not worry when the heat comes, when the droughts of this world beset us, because our roots lay by the stream, constantly nurtured, constantly sustained by God’s love, mercy and grace and infused with the power of God’s Spirit.


Like the disciples, Jesus is calling you and me, and like he told his disciples and the crowds, life may not be easy, but follow him and trust God and the blessings you receive will not be of this world, but will sustain you even in the fiercest drought.

And remember, in that strength, in that trust, in that blessing, he calls you to go fishing with him, and to baptise, to preach, to heal, to release the captives and feed the poor, and with him announce the year of jubilee, cancellation of the debt of sin for all the world. Cancelled by love, shown for us on the cross and in the resurrection.


And we start here. Where God has placed us, where we live, in this church, in this community.

Naïve? Idealist?  No, it’s the true reality of God’s love.

And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.