In our church, whoever preaches on Sunday is respensible for writing up a little devotional for some futher study and reflection. Here is my last sermon and some additional thoughts. Enjoy!
ENCOUNTER: 1 John 1:5-10
Remember when you were fun? That was the question I opened my sermon up with. And the more I have been thinking about it, I think fun, and more specifically joy is a good barometer of what is going on in our souls.
Joy comes when we have found internal peace with who we are, what we are and how we are. And when we are at peace and content, joy naturally follows. Think of the times when you experienced the most joy, chances are it was a time when everything seemed to be coming together.
What is challenging is whether or not something is "coming together" or not is really an internal state of being. And the biggest hindrance of not being content so you can experience joy usually has to do with some hidden and not so hidden brokenness between you and someone else, and even between you and God. Once sin and brokenness enters the equation, all bets are off.
In an effort to protect ourselves and our hearts we end up hiding and distancing our selves from those people we should be closest to. The long-term fruit of this is envy, resentment towards others and embarrassment and shame towards ourselves.
There is one simple and yet challenging solution to this problem of separation in relationship and lack of intimacy. That simple solution is confession. Confession is simply being in agreement with the person you have wronged, owning your part of it and asking for another opportunity for a restored relationship.
Jesus models this on a cosmic level and asks his followers to follow suit.
If we want to be people of joy, if we want to bring fun back to the table, then we need to do some work to get back in right relationship with people in our lives and with God. And when we have restored intimacy we are free. And with freedom comes the ability to be your true self, full of life and joy!
BE REFLECTIVE: This is pretty challenging. But the act of confession actually takes some serious work. Are you willing to write down on paper a list of people you have wronged, the ways you have wronged them and the fruit of that wrong? It is deep. But if you can own your part, agree to the depths of damage it has caused and humbly ask for forgiveness, there is a real chance for restored relationship and intimacy. To take that to another level, do that with your walk with God!
BE A BLESSING: Now time to put the shoe on the other foot. With out too much thinking I am sure that you have been the recipient of many wrongs and out of self-preservation, you have distanced yourself from certain people. In the same way that you have been forgiven, Jesus asks us to forgive others and extend grace and mercy to others as well. In the same way, you would love to receive grace from the people you have wronged, would you be willing to extend it to someone who has wronged you?
BE TOGETHER: With restored relationship, restored intimacy, may you find joy in friendship and relationship, joy in the fact that you are loved by God and by many people in your life. And may this restored intimacy bring you joy!