God's Word: From Our Ears To Our Feet - Luke 6:46 49
Maybe it has happened with one of your children. It’s a Saturday morning. You’ve been working hard trying to take care of all the stuff that needs to be done around the house. You’ve fixed breakfast and then cleaned up the kitchen. You’ve cleaned bathrooms. You’ve gotten the laundry washed, dried, and folded. You notice your teenager stretched out on the couch, watching television and dozing on and off.
“Son, please go put away all your clothes now. Your grandparents are coming over in a little while.”
You get some grumbled response that you take as an affirmation, and head back to your list of chores.
Thirty minutes later you walk by and neither the pile of clothes nor the teenager have moved. You want to shout (and maybe you do), “Did you hear what I said about your clothes?”
Just to be fair, you may have a great teenager in your house. It may be that older child in your house that just makes you want to pull out your hair.
“Honey, the trash can in the kitchen is full. Can you please take it out?”
An hour later you notice that the television has changed from the Duke Basketball game to the Broncos game, meaning he’s still alive, the channel didn’t change by itself. You look in the kitchen where the trash seems to have grown by a discarded pizza box.
With that tone of voice that you alone possess, “Honey, did you hear what I said about the trash?”
Many of us jokingly call it “selective hearing”? Pretty much indicating that we hear and respond to what we want to and simply ignore the rest, often claiming to not have heard the person asking us to do something. The reality of it is, we’ve heard it all, but it has gone in one ear and out the other, without ever putting our feet, hands, or any other aspect of our bodies and lives into action.
Last week we dove into a series on God’s Word by realizing that God’s Word is there to show us the way. When we life makes us feel like we are walking into a dark room, when we do not know what the future holds, when we are faced with difficult decisions, or when circumstances in this world rearrange the furniture and turns out the light in our well-ordered rooms, God’s Word is here to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We learn to let God’s Word, written and in the flesh of Christ, direct our way through our lives.
It is here that we that we might find Jesus saying to us, “Did you hear what I said?”
What do I mean?
We find today’s reading at the conclusion of what many call the “Sermon on the Plain,” Luke’s accounting of Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount.” As Jesus concludes his teaching, He confronts those who have been listening to the teachings:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I tell you?”
In other words, Jesus is saying, “Did you hear what I said? You keep calling me Lord, but your actions are not reflecting what you are saying.” Jesus is claiming that there has been a disconnect. There is a claim by the followers of Jesus that they have chosen to follow him, that they have pledged their loyalty and fidelity to him, they have given themselves to him…they are calling him Lord. Jesus is confronting those who have chosen to follow him and is accusing of failing to allow His words to light and direct their paths. It seems as if they have heard and seen God’s Word in Christ and have decided to live the way that they want to live rather than how Christ has directed them. In other words, what has entered their ears has failed to move their feet (or any other part of them.)
What does this mean to us?
If we have never given our lives over to Christ, then it does not mean a whole lot. Having not committed to Christ, we are free to live as we want without any problem of contradiction. However, if we have surrendered our lives to God, realizing that we are sinners in need of a Savior and that Jesus is the only One who can save us, having done for us, what we could not do for ourselves, then it means a great deal, actually it means everything. If we have confessed Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord, then Jesus’ words are not only to those who stood around Him that day, but to each of us as well. To call someone “Lord” is to have agreed to give them authority over us…it is offering our allegiance to the one we have claimed as Lord. To consider Jesus as our “Lord,” means that we have given our lives to Him, to live as He instructs us to live.
However, just as Jesus looked at those gathered around Him, He looks at each of us, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ did you hear what I told you? If you have heard me, why haven’t you put your feet into action doing what you have heard me tell you?”
We fail to live with Jesus as Lord all the time…and it often begins with acknowledging that we have heard the words of Christ, and think we have an exception that He did not offer:
“I know that Jesus said not to worry…BUT I can’t help it.”
“I know that Jesus said to offer forgiveness to those who have wronged me…BUT do you know what she did to me.”
“I know that Jesus called us to rest and observe the Sabbath…BUT I would lose money if I closed my business for a day.”
“I know that Jesus said to love my enemy and do good to those who persecute me…BUT I have to live in the real world…I’m not going to have anyone walk all over me.”
“I know that Jesus called us not to judge someone else…BUT their sin is far worse than any sin that I’ve committed.”
“I know that Jesus tells us to be willing to serve one another in love…BUT I might get some disease if I work with those seeking to escape the control of drugs and sex.”
“I know that we should wait to have sex until we are married…BUT I needed to prove to my boyfriend that I love him, besides, it just feels so good.”
“I know…BUT…I know…BUT…I know…BUT…” On and on and on are the ways that we say that we have heard the words of Jesus, but have failed are determined not to live out the words of Jesus or other parts of God’s Word.”
So why should we heed the words of Christ and put them into action?
Am I offering up a “works righteousness” kind of living suggesting that we have to do what is right to earn God’s favor and obtain salvation? By no means!!! There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s favor. We have all fallen short, we have all sinned, and there is nothing we can do to make ourselves right with God, no matter how hard we try, we can never make restitution to God for the sin we have committed. Christ and Christ alone is able to bring us forgiveness for our sin and offer us salvation. Our salvation is a pure gift from God…it is grace that cleanses us and declares us to be right before God…grace upon grace.
Are we supposed to follow the Words of Christ and the guidance of God’s Word and Law simply because Jesus said so, or because God tells us to? Has God just presented us with a list of do’s and don’t’s to be followed just because God wants to exert His authority over us? No! God is not some Killjoy who offers rules just for the sake of showing us who’s boss.
Jesus says, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who builds a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”
Jesus offers to us that it is not because “God said so” and not to “earn God’s favor or forgiveness,” but it is for our own good that we are called to heed and follow God’s Words to us through Christ and the Scriptures. God’s Word is not simply an attempt to get us to jump through hoops God has set up for us, but an attempt to give us a life full of joy and fulfillment.
Isaiah says, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.”[i]
Think of the times where we have done what we were determined to do…those “I know…BUT’s” and how they turned out. Things might have been good for a while, but in the end: the food we overindulged in, the alcohol we abused, the tobacco and drugs we used, left our bodies ravaged and diseased; the sex we freely gave, left us in uncommitted empty, easy to walk away from relationships; the anger we were determined to hold on ate us up emotionally and, maybe, physically; the violence we were determined to respond to with more violence only caused it to continue to escalate; the lives we built ignoring God’s Word, collapsed upon us.
It is less like a parent or wife saying put away your clothes or take out the trash, but more like a loving parent warning a young child, do not touch the stove. It is not an arbitrary rule or command, it is an attempt to keep and protect us from hurting ourselves.
This doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to us. Jesus’ words make it clear that storms will come…but having God’s Words as our foundation, when those storms come…when illness and loss hit our lives; when our relationships are attacked; when disaster hits; the only immovable foundation, the only eternal surety in our existence; God’s Word which stands forever, holds us firm, keeps us strong, allows us to weather the storms that we will face, illuminates the dark rooms that we have to enter, and bless us in the process.
We let God’s Word move from our ears to our feet not because it helps God or because God needs anything at all…but because we need a firm foundation to support us in this fragile life we live.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.