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Isaiah 58:1-12 Matthew 5:13-20 1 !ri"thia"s 2:1-12
Last week, we heard Jesus remind his followers that followers follow just like builders build or golfers golf. We thought it would be odd if we met florists without flowers or a veterinarian who was afraid of animals, but this week as we continue reading the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asks an even harder question. Would you hire a builder who couldn t build or a gardener who couldn t garden! Would you vote for a judge who refused to follow the law! "ut more than that, what would you do if those #eo#le already worked for you! What if your gardener started #ulling u# your flowers instead of your weeds! What would you do if you found that your veterinarian was doing something that harmed your #ets instead of hel#ed them! What if you caught your local judge robbing the bank or embe$$ling money from the treasury! %ou wouldn t want any of those things to ha##en and, if these #eo#le worked for you, chances are that they wouldn t be working for you much longer. "ut then, as he often did, Jesus turns everything u#side down. We begin this morning with the word of &od from the #ro#het Isaiah #58:1-12$, where we hear &od declare that his #eo#le are not doing the things that they were su##osed to do, and even worse, were #retending to do good, while actually doing evil. “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem ea er to kno! my !ays, as if they !ere a nation that does !hat is ri ht and has not forsaken the commands of its "od. #hey ask me for $ust decisions and seem ea er for "od to come near them. % &'hy have !e fasted,( they say, &and you have not seen it) 'hy have !e humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed)( “*et on the day of your fastin , you do as you please and e+ploit all your !orkers. , *our fastin ends in -uarrelin and strife, and in strikin each other !ith !icked fists. *ou cannot fast as you do today and e+pect your voice to be heard on hi h. . /s this the kind of fast / have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves) /s it only for bo!in one(s head like a reed and for lyin in sackcloth and ashes) /s that !hat you call a fast, a day acceptable to the 0ord)
“/s not this the kind of fastin / have chosen2 to loose the chains of in$ustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke) 3 /s it not to share your food !ith the hun ry and to provide the poor !anderer !ith shelter4 !hen you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn a!ay from your o!n flesh and blood) 5 #hen your li ht !ill break forth like the da!n, and your healin !ill -uickly appear; then your ri hteousness !ill o before you, and the lory of the 0ord !ill be your rear uard. 6 #hen you !ill call, and the 0ord !ill ans!er; you !ill cry for help, and he !ill say2 7ere am /. '
“/f you do a!ay !ith the yoke of oppression, !ith the pointin fin er and malicious talk, 89 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hun ry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your li ht !ill rise in the darkness, and your ni ht !ill become like the noonday. 88 #he 0ord !ill uide you al!ays; he !ill satisfy your needs in a sun:scorched land and !ill stren then your frame. *ou !ill be like a !ell:!atered arden, like a sprin !hose !aters never fail. 82 *our people !ill rebuild the ancient ruins and !ill raise up the a e:old foundations; you !ill be called Repairer of ;roken 'alls, Restorer of Streets !ith D!ellin s. &od says that his #eo#le came to him day after day and see%e& eager to know him and understand his teaching as i' they wanted to do what was right but then, on the very day that they had s#ent in fasting and #rayer to draw closer to &od and to hear his voice, they went out and e(#loited and abused their em#loyees. )he #eo#le of &od would s#end the day in #rayer and end the day fighting with one another. &od s res#onse to this is to ask why they bother to e(#ect &od to answer their #rayers. &od says that the kind of #rayer and fasting that he requires of us is the kind that looses the chains of injustice, unties the o##ressed, shares food with the hungry, clothes the naked, and gives shelter to the homeless. *f you do that, &od says, the" he will answer #rayer. *f you fight against o##ression, and against +the #ointing finger and malicious talk, &od will guide you. )hat is an interesting #hrase, +the #ointing finger and malicious talk., *t isn t difficult to understand that two thousand years later, this still looks the same as it did. %ou can just #icture the local busybody #ointing a crooked finger at someone and saying, +-o you know what he did!, )his is gossi# and harmful attacks on the character or others. &od says that his #eo#le cannot be involved in that he and ranks it alongside the evils of o##ression and injustice. *nstead, &od says that we should s#end our time caring for the hungry and the o##ressed and the" &od will guide us and care for our needs. *f you do these things, then you will be remembered as #eo#le who re#aired broken homes and healed broken families. Jesus says the same thing as we continue reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:13-20( “*ou are the salt of the earth. ;ut if the salt loses its saltiness, ho! can it be made salty a ain) /t is no lon er ood for anythin , e+cept to be thro!n out and trampled underfoot. “*ou are the li ht of the !orld. < to!n built on a hill cannot be hidden. 8. =either do people li ht a lamp and put it under a bo!l. /nstead they put it on its stand, and it ives li ht to everyone in the house. 81 /n the same !ay, let your li ht shine before others, that they may see your ood deeds and lorify your Father in heaven.
“Do not think that / have come to abolish the 0a! or the >rophets; / have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 85 For truly / tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, !ill by any means disappear from the 0a! until everythin is accomplished. 86 #herefore anyone !ho sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordin ly !ill be called least in the kin dom of heaven, but !hoever practices and teaches these commands !ill be called reat in the kin dom of heaven. 29 For / tell you that unless your ri hteousness surpasses that of the >harisees and the teachers of the la!, you !ill certainly not enter the kin dom of heaven. )!u. are the salt of the earth. )!u. are the light of the world. "ut salt that isn t salty isn t good for anything and a light that is hidden under a bowl doesn t brighten the room one bit.
0ow many of you have ever cooked anything! * would think that most of us have, but even if you haven t nearly all of us have likely #ut salt on our food, or had salt on, or in our food. 1 little salt changes the flavor of everything. &od says that our job is not to se#arate ourselves from the world and kee# to ourselves, but to be out in the world. 2ur job is not to be like everyone else, but to be salt, to change the flavor of everything around us. 2ur job is to be light to dark #laces, to show the world what darkness is really like by shining a light and by illuminating the world around us so that they can see &od and give him glory. We aren t su##osed to be tasteless and blend in, we aren t su##osed to be just as dark as the darkness that surrounds us, we are su##osed to be different. We are su##osed to different because of the difference that &od makes in our lives and different because of our obedience to &od s law. *n a world that seems filled with divorce, do you su##ose it is a coincidence that nearly all the #eo#le * know who have been married for fifty, si(ty and even seventy years are all #eo#le that * met in church! 3robably not. *n a world filled with #remarital se( and #erversion, is it a coincidence that most of the #eo#le * have met that live wholesome and obedient lives, were #eo#le that * met in church! 3robably not. We are su##osed to be different and that difference is su##osed to stand out and not be hidden under a bowl. 1re we going to get it right every time! 4o. 1re we going to be thrilled with the attention that we get because we are different! 4ot always. Will we be #erfect! 5ertainly not. )he 1#ostle 3aul, for all of his writing and #reaching and all of the other things that he did, wasn t #erfect either and he had a few things to tell us about it in his first letter to the church in 5orinth #1 !ri"thia"s 2:1-12$* <nd so it !as !ith me, brothers and sisters. 'hen / came to you, / did not come !ith elo-uence or human !isdom as / proclaimed to you the testimony about "od. 2 For / resolved to kno! nothin !hile / !as !ith you e+cept Jesus ?hrist and him crucified. % / came to you in !eakness !ith reat fear and tremblin . , @y messa e and my preachin !ere not !ith !ise and persuasive !ords, but !ith a demonstration of the Spirit(s po!er, . so that your faith mi ht not rest on human !isdom, but on "od(s po!er.
'e do, ho!ever, speak a messa e of !isdom amon the mature, but not the !isdom of this a e or of the rulers of this a e, !ho are comin to nothin . 3 =o, !e declare "od(s !isdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that "od destined for our lory before time be an. 5 =one of the rulers of this a e understood it, for if they had, they !ould not have crucified the 0ord of lory. 6 7o!ever, as it is !ritten2 “'hat no eye has seen, !hat no ear has heard, and !hat no human mind has conceivedA4 the thin s "od has prepared for those !ho love him4
these are the thin s "od has revealed to us by his Spirit.
#he Spirit searches all thin s, even the deep thin s of "od. 88 For !ho kno!s a person(s thou hts e+cept their o!n spirit !ithin them) /n the same !ay no one kno!s the thou hts of "od e+cept the Spirit of "od. 82 'hat !e have received is not the spirit of the !orld, but the Spirit !ho is from "od, so that !e may understand !hat "od has freely iven us. 3aul, for as often as he #reached, says that he did not come with eloquence, or great human wisdom, or with wise and #ersuasive words. What 3aul had was the testimony of &od and the message of Jesus 5hrist. 3aul insists that lives were not changed because he was good at what he did. 0earts did not turn to &od because
3aul could s#eak like "illy &raham or because he was a master at #ersuasive s#eech. )he reason that communities of faith s#rang u# wherever 3aul travelled was not because of 3aul s skills and abilities but because the S#irit of &od was moving through him des#ite his inability to get it right all the time, des#ite his inability to #reach and des#ite the fact that he wasn t always filled with great wisdom. *t was never 3aul that changed hearts and lives. *t was &od. )his is the miracle and mystery that 3aul declares7 %ou don t have to be #erfect to change the world. %ou don t have to have ama$ing skills and you certainly don t have to get it right every time. What is required is not #erfection, only that you go out there and try. &od says that we cannot be the kind of #eo#le that live one way on Sunday and other way from Monday through Saturday. %ou +a" change the world. 0earts and lives +a" be changed. %ou will be remembered as #eo#le who re#aired broken homes and healed broken families. 1ll you have to do is try. "ut you can t just talk the talk, you have to. Walk the walk.
%ou have been reading a message #resented at )rinity 9nited Methodist 5hurch on the date noted at the to# of the first #age. :ev. John 3artridge is the #astor at )rinity of 3erry heights in Massillon, 2hio. -u#lication of this message is a #art of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. Letters and donations in su##ort of the Media ministry or any of our other #rojects may be sent to )rinity 9nited Methodist 5hurch, 6;<; Lincoln Way =., Massillon, 2hio 88>8>. )hese messages are available to any interested #ersons regardless of membershi#. %ou may subscribe to these messages, in #rint or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at subscribe?trinity#erryheights.org. *f you have questions, you can ask them in our discussion forum on @acebook Asearch for 3astor John 2nlineB. )hese messages can also be found online at htt#7CCwww.scribd.comC3astor John 3artridge. 1ll Scri#ture references are from the 4ew *nternational Dersion unless otherwise noted.