We are fools for the sake of Christ (1 Cor 4:10)
This is one of my favourite bible verses as I have played the fool a number of times for Christ or otherwise. However, I am an particularly taken with this verse being an April Fool's baby being born on April 1st
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Sermon July 26, 2015 Eighth Sunday after Trinity
There is an Old Aboriginal teaching:
An elder was teaching his grandson about life. He said to him, “Grandson, a fight is going
on inside you and me. It is a terrible
fight between two wolves”.“How come there are two wolves grandfather?”
the boy asked. His grandfather answered,
“One wolf is evil – he is anger, envy, regret, greed, conceit, self-pity,
guilt, lies resentment, false pride, superiority and ego. The other wolf is good – he is joy, peace, love,
hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and
faith. The same fight is going on inside
you – and inside every other person.”
His grandson thought about this for a minute and then asked his
grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The elder replied, “The one you feed.”
They come in
sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Last week Father David quoted someone I don’t hear quoted in church
very often, Bob Dylan.
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
have to serve somebody; that is the basic message in both that Aboriginal
teaching and the Bob Dylan song. The
Gospel tells us that false prophets are inwardly ravenous wolves. We will know them by the fruit of their
very important in Jesus’ time. We know
there were many false prophets who were doing miraculous things just as Jesus
was. Most of them have rightly faded
into the mists of time. However, one we
know about is Simon Magus or Simon the Magician. The apostle Peter is recorded in the Book of
Acts to have had an encounter with Simon.
In some apocryphal books he is recorded to have been a
formidable sorcererwith the ability
to levitate and fly
at will. It is recorded in Acts that he
tried to bribe the apostles—offering money to receive the power of the Holy
Spirit which the Apostles were demonstrating.
The sin of Simony is named after Simon.
Simony is the sin of paying for position and influence in the church.
Jesus does not give his warning lightly—it is a matter of
salvation. The Apostles and first
Christians knew that Jesus was a true prophet—the true messiah—by the fruit of who
he was. They were filled with the Holy
Spirit just as Jesus was at his baptism in the Jordan River. Christians throughout the millennia that followed
have known that Jesus is the only begotten son of God because of the fruits of
that belief. They have known the fulfilling
and full life which following Christ can bring.
That, of course, doesn’t mean that there haven’t been false prophets in
the church and false prophets in the world.
We have false prophets who follow false gods all around
us today. I don’t know if there are more
than in other times but it certainly seems that way. Perhaps it seems this way because there are
more opportunities for us to be exposed to them and tempted by them through
modern communication which started with radio and TV and has expanded exponentially
with the internet and social media.
There is no shortage of people willing to lead us astray offering instant
cures for all ills. There are princes in Nigeria willing to share their
fortunes with us if we only send them some seed money. We have no shortage of financial gurus who
are going to give us fantastic returns on our investments. We have false prophets of government who are
giving us simplistic solutions to all the world’s problems. Just say no to drugs; just get tough on crime
and increase the mandatory minimum sentences and lock them up and throw away
the keys—don’t waste money on rehabilitation; waste it on building more prisons
to hold more prisoners of which there will be an ever increasing supply. The
false prophets are everywhere. We have
to be aware and beware of them as Jesus says and judge them by their
fruit. Do they bring forth evil fruit or
good fruit? It can be hard to tell the
difference—at least initially.
Which prophet will you serve; which wolf will you
feed? The Gospel tells us that inwardly the false prophets are
ravening wolves. The false prophets are,
of course, not only in the outer world. The
inner wolves take the form of devices and desires of our inner lives. The demand of the hunger of alcoholism can
only be described as a ravenous evil wolf.
It will eventually devour those who are attacked by it and who respond
by feeding it. One way of describing
alcoholism is a need to find the Spirit of God in a person’s life. The
alcoholic tries to have the Spirit through the spirits of alcohol.
A key—I don’t know if it is the key—to the 12 step program of AA—is to acknowledge that you
can’t do it yourself; you have to give your life to a higher power, in effect give
up the illusion that you are in control and give that control to God. This is true for everyone—not just
There are many other—perhaps numberless—forms of the evil
wolf; from the desire for power to the desire for material possessions. There is the desire for love which people
hope can be found in the fairy tale romance of happily ever after in the arms
of Prince Charming or Sleeping beauty.
What is it that you are feeding in your life? Many of the wolves are easy to see in
others. We can see the devastation of
alcoholism or materialism. But what
about those that have the appearance of being harmless and perhaps even fruit
that appear to be good. Are you someone who must keep busy to believe that you
are worth being loved? Do you think if I
don’t keep active doing I am not worthy of being loved by God? How are you filling your life because you don’t
want to recognize who you are a beloved child of God? These too can be subtle evil wolves that are
disguised as good wolves. These wolves
can seem to offer the answer to all our problems. They seem to provide easy answers. But they are not; the answers they provide
are not easy; they are false. We can try
to ignore them. However, they will not
be ignored. We can try to feed them but they are ravenous and always
hungry. That is another sign that the
fruit is bad. The only answer is to face
them and engage them to find out what they are truly offering—what need they
are filling and determine that the fruit they offer is false.
The answer is to discover the truth of salvation and
grace in the saving power of Jesus Christ offered to us through the forgiveness
of the cross. The grace of God is
offered to each of us because we are God’s Children and not because of the wolf
that we try and feed. The true fruit of
Jesus Christ is the possibility of salvation through the forgiveness offered in
seeking and following Jesus Christ. The
fruit of that journey is the forgiveness that is given to us when we miss the
mark and feed the evil wolf. Jesus knows
that is going to happen and welcomes us back when we turn again to him. Thanks be to God.