Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the text for this morning
comes from that Gospel Reading.
Gabi, Phillip, Tony, Elena, Geoffrey,
Eric, Jenya, and Natasha, you didn’t choose your parents; they chose you. Now,
there may be times when you say, “I wish I could have chosen something
different,” as far as a parent goes, but they chose you and that’s all that
matters because you belong to them and will even after you grow old and gray.
And that is the great gift that your God has given unto you. Just as Jesus
said, “You did not choose me. I chose you,” and there is a vast difference
between the two.
Left to our own choice, we
vacillate; don’t we? Because we choose people and things according to some
merit within that thing or that person that we feel is worthy of our love and
our choosing, and if it’s not, we do not choose it. And it sits to the side of
the thing or that person that we choose, and the power of being chosen is
profound; isn’t it? Because on a playground when you choose teams and the one
who is chosen last, because there’s always somebody, there’s the power, because
they’re not nearly as influenced and affirmed as the first one or the second
one that’s chosen. There, there’s a great amount of power. But the problem
still is in this realm we choose according to merit and worth. We love
according to the lovableness of someone else, what they have within them that
we appreciate. Because if they’re not worthy of our love, they do not receive
our love. If they’re not worthy of us choosing them to be ours, they are not
chosen as ours. Isn’t it interesting that your and my glory is not that we
chose God. Your and my glory lies in God choosing us. That’s a gift and it’s a
very powerful gift.
Now, Jesus presented this great
command. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.
This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.” And the
problem with that term “love” is that we associate bunches of emotions with the
word “love” as if there is something that emotionally moves us to love. That’s
a pretty sad state of love because that’s a biological reaction. A dog loves
food because it does that which it desires; it feeds him and ends the pain
within his belly. You and I don’t love that way. Do we?
When God chose to love you, it was
His choice. He chose to love you. That is God. God is love; therefore, He can do
no other but love, and He chose to love you not because of a lovability within
you that says, “Wow, what a great thing I’ll get out of this relationship in
loving you.” No different than you as parents in loving your child. That’s the
child you get. That’s whom God gave you. You didn’t have a choice in it either.
It was God’s gift and choice. But you as a parent chose to love that child, but
the one who really chose to love that child….do not misunderstand me….but there
is a difference between a father’s love and a mother’s love. And all of us have
no trouble figuring that out because we’ve all experienced it. A mother loves
her child because her child is her flesh and blood, an extension of her very
flesh, coming from her, being sustained by her, and living by her. That’s why
there are very few mothers who turn their backs on their children.
But fathers? That is a different
thing; isn’t it? Because a father has to choose to love that child, and it is
their choice to choose to love that child. And that’s why it is a profound pain
when fathers do not choose to love their children. And it is a profound
influence when fathers do choose to love their children. The Father, your heavenly
Father, has chosen to love you, and He chooses to love you not because of your
lovability or because of something He sees as a potential within you, but
purely because He is love and chooses to bestow that upon you, of all people.
It is very profound, indeed, to
receive love from someone in such a manner. It’s interesting. In a relationship
with another person, when we feel lovable, we feel worthy of them giving their
love to us. Let us feel unlovable because of words that we have spoken, let
ourselves feel unlovable because of how we have treated the other, and we do
not feel worthy of love if there is still love being given to us. That is why
the great power of the love between a man and a woman in a marriage is the
picture of the perfect love of God with His bride, you and me, the church.
It’s easy to begin to love anybody.
That is the easiest thing of all. Everyone does it. The difficult thing is to
keep choosing to love. God doesn’t have to choose to love. He is love. You and
I in loving one another, it is a choice we make, a will that we decide each and
every day. Let it not be all mucked up with feelings and emotions. Those are
attendant with it, but they are not the motivator for they will always run out
of gas if feelings and emotions are motivating you in our response to one
another. Even your own flesh and blood it’s difficult to love with feeling.
You’re committed and you choose to be committed to that child, but it’s
difficult at times.
It is the same way with us as
brothers and sisters in Christ. You were chosen to be bound up with each other.
You confirmands, you will never forget this day, just as your parents tell you
and regale you with stories of their day and so on and so on, because you have
been bound together. Coming from different families, different parts of the
country, all over, you have been bound together, but [bigger than that], you’re
going to bind yourselves to one another and to all of us up here at this altar
where we say yea and amen to one another in our confession of faith. But it’s
not about because we appreciate this person only, because quite frankly, there
are going to be many people in your life that you do not necessarily appreciate,
and yet you’re communing with them. And that’s okay. That’s the struggle of living
out love and choosing to love in this world, because love is not a feeling. It
is a choice for us as human beings that we struggle with each and every day.
Abiding in God’s love, as He says, is receiving His love, letting His love be
the motivator and that very thing that humbles you to say, “I shall choose to
What makes someone beautiful? Our
first response is that what makes someone beautiful is their looks, their
outward appearance, their adornment. Husbands and wives who have been married for
a long time, what makes your spouse beautiful is because they have received
your love and your love has changed them from the inside out. It is a profound
thing for any of us to receive love; hence, why most of our struggles in our
lives is bound up in how we were loved as children and how we give and receive
love as adults; isn’t it? Thanks be to God that He chooses us to receive His
love to fix what has been done to us and what we have done to others, and He
chooses us not because we’re worthy of such a choice. He chooses us again
because of He being love.
What makes each of you beautiful is
that you’re loved by someone else, and true forgiveness has been given to you
which enables you to love someone else. That is how God has given us such love
through Christ Jesus. It’s not lip service that He paid when he said, “I love
you. You are mine.” It has been exampled to you, imperfectly though, but
exampled to you in your parents and family and your church family. And it’s
not always because you’re lovable. That is the most humbling and profound
moment of receiving love, isn’t it, when you feel unworthy of such love. When
you look in the eye of the one who’s continually giving you forgiveness and
mercy and you know deep inside of yourself you’re not deserving of such love
and mercy because you don’t even like yourself at that moment. That’s profound
love and that is ultimately what He brings to you today, and each time you come
because the three things that testify, the water, the blood, and the Spirit,
are all wrapped up in what you have had done to you since you were baptized
into this faith. And the life of that love begins again at this altar for we’re
bound together, bound not because we appreciate one another always, but bound
really because we are loved and chosen by the same God. We have that in common,
and we will have that in common until we die.
Be at peace and love as you have
been loved. Choose to love as God has chosen you to be His, purely and solely
because He is God who is loving and gracious.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting.