300 S Ardmore Ave, Villa Park IL, 60181

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Saturday - 4:30 pm Sunday - 8:00 am & 10:30 am Christian Education Sunday - 9:15 am


I am the good shepherd.
I know my own and my own know me.
John 10:14

 

 

 

Pastor Rob Rogers was born in Seattle Washington. He has a B.A. in Communication from Concordia University, Austin, TX and a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. READ MORE >>

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Easter 4 – April 22, 2018
Text:               1 John 3:16-24
Theme:          Love in deed is love indeed.

 

        There’s a reason why “Church people” get mocked and laughed at by people outside the Church.  The world has a good point.  We talk about love but sometimes we are pretty poor at putting love into action.  Love in deed.  I know lots of people who are rabidly pro-life, but give no money to agencies like Lutheran Child and Family Services that seeks to care for children who have no one to care for them.  I have heard much complaining about homeless people begging for change but many fail to try to understand why this is.  No one, when they are little kids say, “Someday, I want to grow up to be a homeless person begging for change along the onramp.”  Look at what John says to us this morning.

        “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”  We are good at loving in word, we often talk a good game, but sometimes the “in deed” part gets left out.  In school we learned not to push in line.  We learned not to interrupt when others were talking.  We learned to congratulate the winner and not to be a poor sport.  We learned a lot of “nots.”  Sometimes we focus too much on the “no’s” of the world. The “no’s” curb our behavior so that we do not act like animals but I think we often forget that the “no’s” do not empower us to live the “yes’s.”

        When I was the pastor of a Christian Day school, I used to tell teachers that Gospel motivates and Law deters.  We have to have rules because if we didn’t, life would be a very scary and unsafe place, even more so than it is already!  No one wants to live in a world where people can do whatever they want without consequences.  I don’t want to have to dodge people driving down the sidewalk when I get my mail.  I cringe at the thought of someone entering my home and stealing from me.  I know it happens but at least we have rules to try and dissuade people from being completely reckless and immoral.  Yet, we can never make enough rules to empower us to be holy people.  Rules dissuade but never empower.  Only the Gospel can empower and you have been empowered by God through the Gospel. Whether you know it or not, you are holy and you have the capability to love in deed. 

        But, you may not feel very holy.  Well, as you have heard here before, never trust a feeling!  John says,

        “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them.”  And now you’re thinking, but I have not always kept his commandments.  I know.  None of us can keep the commandments very well but which commandments are we talking about here?  John says,

        “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”  Remember Maundy Thursday when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet?  He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  Do you believe in Jesus?  Do you love one another?  According to John, those are the commandments you have to keep and here’s the big bonus prize: you don’t have to do anything, because it was done for you!  When you were baptized, the Holy Spirit entered you and created faith in you and you believed in Jesus.  Now, unless you have told him that you no longer want him in your life – you no longer want to be part of his family – you believe!  You have kept that commandment and that is what empowers you to love one another.  That empowers you to live that love in deed!

        Of course, we are always tempted to forget that Jesus abides in us.  That’s what Satan banks on.  If he can distract us from remembering who lives in us, he can distract us from loving one another.  When we are not living in love, we are living inconsistently with who we are and that’s why it feel uncomfortable and awkward.  Christians who are making choices that are inconsistent with God are always edgy and uncomfortable.  Sometimes they quit coming to church because that makes them feel all the more uncomfortable.  That’s why we need a shepherd.  Today is Good Shepherd Sunday.  Jesus did not go back to heaven and leave us on our own.  He is still right here with us, being our Shepherd, leading and guiding us to love in deed.  On top of that he has given you under shepherds, pastors, to constantly call you back to the flock.  I once had a member get angry with me because I kept reminding his kids that we miss them at church and would love to see them back here.  When I heard that he was angry, I laughed.  What else did he suppose a shepherd should do?  Maybe he was struggling with his own guilt for not being here either. 

        This is the place where you receive the power you need to love in deed.  It is easy to talk about love but it is hard to love in deed, to put away our pride and forgive or ask forgiveness, to face our failures and bad choices and seek forgiveness and forgive ourselves.  This is the place we receive God’s Word and his very body and blood.  When Jesus died on the cross, it was not just a story in a book.  That is why he rose from the dead and was witnessed by over 500 people alive and well.  His crucifixion and damnation not only forgave us our sins but he rose again to continue empowering us to live life and to love not only in word but in deed.  We don’t just talk.  We do.  Because love in deed is love indeed.