The Nourishing Place

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Sermon October 25, 2020

Matthew 28: 18-20 

There are two aspects to today’s scripture, which requires two parts to the sermon.  Let’s look at the first one:   “Go and make disciples of all nations.  That is to extend God’s love through you to people wherever you meet them, locally or far away. 

Have you ever wondered what is your purpose in life?  I think we all wonder at times, but if we trust what the Bible teaches us we have our answer.  Each one of us is asked to go and make disciples.  That is let others see the way of the Christ in you.  You do this by living a life of faith, and standing firm in your faith especially in the midst of challenges.   Your words are important, however your actions will always speak louder than your words.  How you treat yourself and others is teaching the way of the Lord.  It is the way we all make disciples whether in our own town or around the world. To share God’s love and forgiveness is our purpose in whatever endeavor becomes our calling. 

We are created by our Creator to be people of purpose.  How do you think people live when they either do not recognize their purpose, choose not to follow it, or are forcibly prevented from following it?  I recently read an article which reported that in World War II the Nazi regime built a camp for prisoners in a country adjacent to Germany.  The prisoners labored every day under horrific conditions. Some had no shoes or ruined ones, no warm clothing, very little to eat.  But in spite of these hardships they were made to labor from dawn to night.  One day all the prisoners were forced to move an enormous pile of garbage from one end of the camp to the other end.  The next day they were forced to move it all back to the original site.  They were given no reason to do so, just that they had to move the garbage.  A pattern was set.  Day after day for weeks on end the prisoners moved the same mountain of garbage from one end of the camp to the other end.  It was meaningless labor.  It began to take a terrible toll on the prisoners.  After weeks, one day an older man began to cry loudly and he was led away.  This terrible effect on the men continued until one man in the camp bolted away and threw himself on the electrified fence.  He died in a blinding flash.  In the days that followed dozens of prisoners went insane.  Their captors did not care.  What the prisoners did not know was they were part of an experiment in mental health.  What would happen to people who had no meaningful purpose?  What would happen to people who were subjected to pointless activity? The doctors wanted to see what life would become for people who had no sense of purpose.  The conclusion was:  insanity and suicide.  Specified purpose is integral to life. (Collin Wimberly) 

Is that what is happening in certain areas in our nation?  People have no purpose so they destroy themselves and others.   Is that what is happening to churches?  Are we losing people because we have forgotten our purpose?  To make disciples, that is lovers of God, who will live a good life and pass it on?  Is that why young people are leaving school?  They have not been led to a purpose driven life? 

Great questions.  How do you answer them? 

The second aspect of this scripture is this question: 

What does it mean to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  When you are baptized in water, you are emulating Jesus burial and resurrection.  You go under the water (whether submersed or sprinkled) then you come back up as in resurrection, to live a new kind of life of putting God first in all that you do.  When you are baptized in the name of the Father you are acknowledging that you are one with all humanity...God created all of us as one family, one race, of human beings….doesn’t matter if we are different in appearances, culture, or life styles.  God created us all.   Then to be baptized in the name of the Son, which in our faith is Jesus, means we accept the fact that this “brother” of ours is here to show us how to love, how to forgive, how to have compassion so that our own lives will be enriched with peace, joy and assurance.  Jesus is like an older brother to show us the way, the right way, the purpose driven way to live.  Then added to that is to be baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit.  We accept the Spirit within us to motivate and encourage us daily in pursuing this purpose.  It also means we are now part of a spiritual family who has major influence while we are on earth.  Our spiritual existence far outlasts our human by being baptized in the name of all three we publicly admit we believe and desire to act as a family, a warm, loving, nurturing family of human beings; we accept the Son Jesus to guide us on the path of holiness thus saving ourselves from the despair of a sinful life.  Through the Holy Spirit that resides within us, we are encouraged to cope in whatever state or condition we are in...which leads to life forever in the realm beyond. 

This is our purpose in life according to Matthew 8: 18-20.  Go and make disciples of all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit...that is bringing each disciple into the loving arms of this family.  This  command from God is a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual way to enhance our lives and the lives of others here and now and forever.   

As a family of God, we are all connected.  In God’s eyes we are all equal.  We are to behave like a healthy family, caring for one another, sharing, teaching, enjoying each other, under the safe guiding light of brother Jesus.  In this kind of affirming family, we will be influential, encouraging others to join us in living the real life, the life designed for us by the Almighty one.  

To truly be spiritually happy in this life, we must have a purpose for living and a purpose for dying.  Both enrich us as nothing else can.