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Wear Your Gospel Goggles

Corby Stephens
Corby Stephens
11 min read
Wear Your Gospel Goggles
Photo by Bram Van Oost / Unsplash

Table of Contents

The following text is the raw, unedited transcript from a sermon given on Oct. 16, 2022. You can also listen to the audio. Better yet, subscribe to the podcast! :-)

As I said, I read the wrong stuff today, but you know what? That is still good. Right? He's not he's still he's good anyway. I'm the one who messed up lest I be misinterpreted as blaming him for anything. It is hard to do the right thing, isn't it? Sometimes Let me rephrase that. It's hard to do the right thing when it's hard, it's hard to do the right thing on a regular basis ongoing. Sometimes when there is constant opposition in our collect for the day this morning I'm gonna repeat part of it stir up O lord the wills of your faithful people.

Good works in a divided world

That's us that bringing forth an abundance the fruit of good works that they may be abundantly rewarded when our savior, Jesus christ comes to restore all things. Has he done that yet? No, that means we get to keep on keeping on and keep praying for the wills of ourselves of God's faithful people to bring forth the abundance. The fruit of good works. And that seems exceedingly difficult in a world that is continually divided, especially this week. Yeah, politics. You voting yay, the increasingly less United States of America.

That's frustrating. It's especially frustrating when people say things or do things in the name of God or use scripture as their authority. That is completely contrary to what God wants. I'm not going to name things. I'm not gonna make a list. I'm not gonna condone or can condemn one party over another because they're all broken because guess what? God's kingdom is not a democracy, nor is it a Republic. It is a theocracy is the kingdom of God, it's not the United States is Kingdom of God, It's God's kingdom of God, the whole earth is his.

As we read about this morning, I like how the, the, what's the translation that's in the Book of Common Prayer, New Coverdale. The psalter says the whole, the round world, the whole world. Like I was just, I like that it used that word round not speak for because the rounds are pretty shape but because it's, it's the entire world and it's gonna get harder. I know a lot of the tradition I come from really like to focus on in times things and I love reading about and learning about and talking about in times things.

Good works, by themselves, don't save us

It's one of those areas where we, as anglicans gonna have differing views and still be brothers and sisters in the Lord. It's not a salvation issue, but one thing is for certain that Jesus is coming back and the kingdom will be restored. It's what we're encouraged to be, is faithful and I think each of the readings as usual, hit on on some of these ideas, Malachi in particular, God makes a book, hmm, you might call that a reservation book, you know, what do you have to do to get into heaven.

Well you can't do anything to get into heaven. You have to have, you have to have to have a reservation, don't you? It's not about deserve. I have family members who like to believe that some people deserve to go to heaven and other peoples deserve to go to hell. But it's not about deserve is it? It's about Jesus, it's about a standard, it's it's like if you go to the fair or an amusement park and they have the sign at the front of the ride that says you must be this tall to ride this ride, you're not tall enough, what happens?

You don't get to ride the ride bummer. Yeah, that's how little kids say amen. And what we like to do with that standard with that sign is we either like to chop the legs off so it's lower so it's closer to us or we like to make ourselves bigger by standing up on something that we think is important, right? We like to we violate the standard. It's it's as though if there is a gate at heaven after we die, there is Jesus on the cross and it says you must be this holy to pass through these gates.

Well who's that holy on their own, Not me, not you, sorry, I'm not trying to be me, but that's kind of what it is. Jesus is the one who changes us so we can meet that standard and as we are in him as we learn to continue to follow him as we learn what it is, these right things. These good works are to do. That requires a bit of perseverance, doesn't it? It requires a bit of keep on keeping on of fearing the name of the Lord when we get to sorry, I taught him a new word, my bad.

We live in a culture of distraction

When we get to the Psalm it says it's good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing his praises, to sing praises to your name, almost had to declare your steadfast. That's not the right song, is it 98 see I got 92, stuck in my head from the board and it's on 98 today. I was singing to the Lord a new song for he has done marvelous things, who has, he has God has done marvelous things. We can get distracted so easily by other less marvelous things, can't we?

In fact, our whole culture is designed to distract us to pay attention to less marvelous things. More than less the marvelous things to things that are things that get us outraged and get us focused off of God in his kingdom, on what he wants to do and on something that is important to a degree, but not as important as God's things, as a follower of Jesus, as one of these people who wants to have the fruit of good works and have that name written in the book of life and that reservation book.

Gospel Goggles

We need what some people call gospel goggles. That as we look at the world as we live, our lives as we encounter our spouses and our kids and our bosses and the politics and the tv and the wars and rumors of wars. We look at our world through gospel goggles, which is like a filter. I have bifocals. Maybe you noticed when I was reading the Gospel, I was like this because this is what I have to see. I'm getting tri-focals in his life, because I can read this and I can read that, but I can't read right here.

I need something to help me see as believers, we need stuff to help us see properly. If we have gospel goggles off, we just, we see a mess. We see things that are constantly trying to get our attention to focus on the wrong things and to get us outraged about the maybe good things but not the not see it the right way or be happy about outreach about bad things and happy about good things and still not even see them the right way. We need to see them through the Gospel.

Maybe a political thing happens, that's good for God's kingdom, but we don't see it for God's kingdom. We see it as were the righteous and where these people and for us or maybe it goes the other way and we say they're all bad and they're sinners and and Gospel goggles see those people that people needing Jesus, right? That's what the Gospel goggles should do. So Malachi gives us that idea of the book, the Book of Remembrance, The Book of Life is called elsewhere. When we get to Luke, the Jesus is looking at the temple, one of the great wonders of the ancient world and he says you know what guys, this thing is gonna be ripped to pieces one of these days, not one stone shall be left upon another.

And that's significant because well here's where one of these week can agree to disagree. Some people believe that the temple was completely and utterly destroyed around 70 AD when the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem. Some believe that it is yet a yet future event. Some weird people like me believe maybe it's both because prophecy is not just prediction of a one time thing, it is also a pattern, whole other talk that I would love to get into some time, but when you look at the life of Jesus and the Messianic prophecies, it's it's patterns, it's not just a one time only thing. Many Jews were and are hung up on the, the idea of a suffering messiah for example, they there's this apparent contradiction in the old testament where that there's a messiah who is going to come and rule and reign and be in charge.

But there's also this other version of messiah who suffers and is beaten and is killed. Well which is it? Well, it's it's two different Messiahs, one's gonna come to conquer and one's gonna come to suffer. Or maybe it's one who comes twice And for us one more time, three times. So patterns versus prediction. But I digress. They get into this conversation about the temple and it's gonna be torn down and wars and rumors of wars and it's not gonna happen yet. And at the very end, he says, but not a hair of your head will perish by your endurance, you will gain your lives.

Endurance is required

There's that endurance, there's that keep on keeping on doing the right thing. Living for Jesus in the right way. Having the gospel goggles on learning how to keep them on because sometimes it gets frustrating and following him when we get to Thessalonians. The second letter to the Thessalonians, which is interesting. It's it's thought that Paul, the apostle Paul spent as many as few as three weeks in this little town Thessaloniki. Yet he wrote them two letters. He must have had a seriously good relationship and investment in them to write them back and forth.

And only two that we know of, maybe there were more. But he goes into this little mini rant at the end of his letter, which is sounds like it's a bummer. It's like would you like to end the letter on, on, there's bad people coming, but God bless you, bye bye, thanks Paul real upper. He says in verse six. Now I can now we command you brothers in the name of the lord, Jesus christ that you keep away from any brother who was walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition you received from us.

This is this idea, of course is a good idea and it's a good verse. But it's one that some people, some traditions, some factions will take and go on a witch hunt, who's good, who's bad, who's idol, Who's not idle, Who? And we try to divide, oversimplify the division of christians into one camp on another. And I think that is tragic, Paul does tell us to look out for those, but in other places, he also tells us to try to correct them lovingly not just shut them out, not just reject them and say you're bad go away unless they don't repent.

And then he says, treat them like an unbeliever. Well, how do you treat an unbeliever? You give them the gospel. That's how. But Paul tells us, I think in this flow of these different sections of scripture we're looking at this morning, he tells us to watch out for the idol because it is easy to give up and try to do things. The easy way following Jesus is hard work and in a world, in a culture like ours today, that really rewards results that really rewards numbers. It is easy to get lazy in getting, if you'll pardon my, my language butts in the seats, it becomes about nickels and noses.

I went to a pastor's conference is in another denomination. And every year, every time I would meet somebody else where there's hundreds of pastors gathered. One question was common, how many you running are we talking about cows? What are you talking about? What do you mean? How many you run? It's very disheartening and it becomes very easy to take the easy way because you, you want to appear successful. You want to appear like you're doing well. Does God count numbers? Yeah, there's a lot of numbers in the Bible.

There's a book called numbers, right? Acts says it was a 3000 were added to their number that day. And in the book of acts, it's numbers. The tribes that God does care about numbers, but it does not judge success based upon numbers. It just doesn't. He judges based on faithfulness, which again is keep on keeping on as we encounter people in the world around us today. With all the politics that will be going around released for the next few years. We need to remember who we represent, whose kingdom do we represent Paul calls us ambassadors.

Ambassadors for Christ

You and I are ambassadors of Jesus of God's kingdom to this world. And maybe it's hard to think about, but this is really not our home, is it? This is not our long term home. We're camping here, we're like Israel in the wilderness. This is not permanent where there was a promised land coming. But until we get there, we have work to do and sometimes that work is on ourselves, sometimes that work is God's work in us. And then ultimately that work is God's work through us to the world around us with the Gospel.

We want to give out as many pairs of gospel goggles as we can to help other people see rightly to help other people see the way God sees. But it will only last so long, won't it? Like we saw in these passages like there's a day coming, we don't know when that day is, we don't know when that time is. And that should not, that should frighten us, but also motivate us at the same time. And this is another one of those areas where I think people will go, we have to be terrified.

We have to build cabins up in the mountains and hoard food and water and be prepared for God to come back because it's gonna be really bad. No internet or they say, well, no, it's it's symbolic. He's not really gonna physically come back and there's not going to really be any judgments and there's not gonna really he's gonna come and rule and reign in our hearts. And that's where God's kingdom is this kind of these two extremes and the wonderful to me, Anglican way is the middle way.

It's both God's kingdom is here and now and it is yet to come and we are ambassadors of that kingdom, we are representatives of God. So when the world sees us react to stuff, it's gonna think that's God's reaction and that should give us pause. You should make a stop and go. How would not too cliche, what would Jesus do? But what does God want me to show people in this situation? Somebody asked me, what do you think about the person elected governor or representative or whatever?

What's your, how do you, do you go? Are you like, you know one or the other or is it more about, well God's on the throne first and then maybe here's what I think maybe where was that verse? Paul ends that little run on, watching out for certain people by saying now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. He didn't want to leave them stressed out. He wanted to remind them in the end God's peace raids.

Peace of the Lord

And do we, does our world need that today to our families. Do you need that today? Do I need that today? God's peace? So let's end our time in the word asking God and thanking him for the peace that we have with him through, Jesus, shall we? Lord thank you as always for your word. It’s, I don't want to come across like I'm Father, Son, and Holy Scripture, but your word is such a gift. Jesus is the word incarnate. But thank you for this written word that we can read that we can study that we can that you tell us to meditate on to chew on that we can ingest into our hearts and into our minds.

And then it transforms us from the inside out. Lord help us to receive peace today. And Lord help help that peace. Give us the strength to keep on doing the right things to saying the right things to to surrendering our feelings and emotions and our thoughts to you and then putting on the mind of christ, putting on this mind of peace. Thank you God that you are on the throne and please equip us and encourage us and correct us to be examples and ambassadors of you and your kingdom in this world. It’s in Jesus name we pray, amen.



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