Third Sunday after Easter 2017
May 7, 2017
Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 43:1-12
Epistle: I Peter 2:11-17
Gospel: John 16:16-22
“Servants of God”
Have you ever had a servant? Have you had someone who was specifically tasked to make your life “easier” and do whatever you ask of them? Now, I’m not talking about a spouse – as some people seem to see them – nor am I talking about children, as they’re more often the ones who get served by their parents than vice versa. If you were to hire a servant though, you’d definitely have a list of things you would want him or her to be capable of doing. Can they cook, clean, do laundry, etc.? We’d also want to see some references to make sure the work they do is of reasonable quality and consistency. Furthermore, you’d likely have a lengthy interview process that assured you of the compatibility of their personality with your own.
We might go about getting a servant that way: but not God.
You would think that the Ruler of the Universe, the Creator of All Things, and Master of All, would simply turn to his holy, perfect angels to assist Him in His work, but that’s not the case. He calls out to mankind, the part of His Creation that willfully chose (and often still chooses) to ignore the righteous demands of God to serve himself. Man focuses on pleasing himself and seeks ways to wield greater “power” in this temporal world. Instead of bowing before a Holy God, man tends to promote himself and bow only to his own desires.
Why would God choose to use such imperfect and selfish individuals? Why would He seek to draw us into His work, when we can barely do anything right ourselves? Man can hardly obey the laws of the governing rulers in this world. How can man be expected to obey the righteous calling of God?
In our Epistle, Peter reminds us to “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”. He admonishes us to keep our conversation “honest among the Gentiles”. The working out of righteousness is indeed that – a working out. It is hard work to live a holy life. While we cannot accomplish this holy living on our own, the Spirit of God dwells within us and offers us a chance to obey the will of God. Peter goes on to tell us that in living a righteous life affords us the chance to shine as examples of God’s love. “For so is the will of God that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” While we may not have the capacity to live completely holy lives, we can strive for holiness and work towards honoring God through our daily lives. We do that through “honor[ing] all men. Lov[ing] the brotherhood. Fear[ing] God. [And honoring] the king.”
People watch us and see how we interrelate. If we’re not loving one another and sharing that love with those around us, we offer no incentive for anyone to seek the love of God – because it all seems for naught – vapid statements that don’t work themselves out through those who claim to believe them most. For us to effectively be the servants of God, we simply must obey the two Great Commandments: love God with all our selves, and love our neighbors as ourselves.
This service we do offers us something in return. While we seek to love those around us and honor our Heavenly Father, we find that His joy is made complete in us, and that through this working for Him, we are drawn closer to Him and begin to recognize His deep love for us.
In our Gospel, Christ proclaims that the joy the Disciples (and ultimately all Christians) receive from Christ’s love and sacrifice will never be taken from us. We find in our service to Almighty God the irreplaceable and unalterable joy of the knowledge of God’s saving grace and mercies and love. So let us take from this place the assurance that as we serve God in loving our brothers in Christ, honoring our neighbors, and upholding the laws of our land, we are embracing the right calling of God to man, and that ultimate joy of eternal life with Him will be ours.