“Ready for More Than Hide and Seek”                                            August 11, 2013

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 & Luke 12:32-40                                                    Stephens City UMC

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I.                   I imagine that you were like me in that when you were a child you played the game of hide and go seek.

A.    It is really a very simple game – hide and someone comes looking for you.

1.     Part of the ritual of hide and go seek is that the person doing the seeking closes their eyes while everyone else tries to find some great hiding place.

2.     The eventual seeker will from time to time call out “Ready yet?” and people will yell back “No, not yet,” then they run around some more looking for the perfect hiding place.

3.     Finally, the seeker issues a declaration “Ready or not here I come” and at that point either you are ready or you are not.

II.                 Jesus would like for you to be ready for he is coming again but he does not want you to be hiding in fear because he is coming.

A.    Some people live in fear of Jesus coming as well as fear of some other things so Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.”

1.     Let’s get real – Jesus is going to find you.

2.     You cannot hide from Jesus.

3.     My sister and I use to play hide and seek and there was a place in her closet in a fold-up bed that we had for guests that I could slip into.

4.     My sister would get frustrated and ask my mother to help find me.

5.     Because of the way the cloths hung on the rod I could see them from where I was hiding but they never saw me and not once did they ever find me.

B.     While I could hide from my mother and my sister, I can assure you that I have never been able to hide from Jesus.

1.     Jesus has always found me – wherever I’ve been, whatever I’ve done – Jesus has always found me.

2.     Sometimes I’ve wanted to be found.

3.     Sometimes I didn’t want to be found.

4.     Always I needed to be found and from Jesus’ stand point the game is finders-keepers because when he finds you he intends to keep you.

5.     He won’t force that but that is clearly his intent.

C.     So have you been hiding from Jesus?

1.     Have you been afraid that he’d find you and you’d have to change?

2.     You know, start doing something you should be doing or stop doing something you shouldn’t be doing?

D.    Not only individuals but churches can be that way.

1.     Graham Standish whose church Jan and I worshipped at while we were on vacation and author of Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power writes, “The challenge for most mainline churches is how to get church leaders, especially lay leaders, to lead a scared, resistant, and risk-averse church to grow when they are scared and resistant themselves. Many mainline churches lack a vision for change, the confidence to make changes, and the desire to change. They want stability. Their focus has slowly become fixed on themselves and their survival (and sometimes their death). Seeking what God wants is not high among their priorities. In many ways, they become stuck. They don’t want to die, but they don’t know how to live. They want God to speak to them, but not if it means making changes.” (Standish, Becoming a Blessed Church, p. 20)

E.     So for those experiencing fear of one type or another here’s the blessing Jesus added to his admonition of “Do not be afraid;” he said, “little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

1.     The fact is that you can’t earn your way into the kingdom.

2.     You can’t buy your way into the kingdom.

3.     The kingdom is given to you as a gift; a gift from God and God alone.

F.     Gifts from God are very precious.

1.     Whenever I do pre-marital counseling I always remind couples that scripture says that God is a jealous God but He is not so jealous that He limits our love to Himself.

2.     Because God loves us He gives us somebody else to love.

3.     So if it is John and Sally who want to get married I will point out that God has freely given to them the precious gift of the other.

4.     In essence God is saying, “John, because I love you I give you Sally” and “Sally, because I love you I give you John.”

5.     Wow! Talk about a blessing!

6.     So when you get married your spouse is a gift from God to you, a precious gift and precious gifts from God should be well cared for.

7.     Another way to put it is that you should treasure the person you marry.

G.    And this is where Jesus began to elaborate in our scripture passage for today.

1.     He said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.”

2.     For far too many middle class Americans we treasure our possessions more than our relationships.

3.     Things are more important to us than people.

4.     You’ll see this where there has been a death in the family and family members will tear the family apart over what was or was not in the will.

5.     People want stuff that belonged to the person who died and will sacrifice their relationship with other family members in order to possess that stuff.

6.     These people want to be rich in stuff rather than rich in relationships.

7.     They are confused in that they think that life is a game and that whoever has the most toys wins, but the truth is that whoever has the most toys when they die still dies.

H.    Jesus knew that we all will die and there is a “finding” that happens when we die.

1.     There is no hiding from death and the judgment that comes following death so the wise course in this life while you have time is to reallocate your possessions so that you can be rich not towards things but towards God.

2.     If you are going to be so committed to things and to possessing them when the time comes for Jesus to find you then you will be clinging so tightly to your things that you won’t want to come out of your hiding place and you will miss out on life.

3.     To illustrate what I’m trying to get at (and this would be better if Dad had joined in the search but he always figured I’d come out when I got hungry), but say my sister and my mother had finally found me hiding in the folded up roll away bed and they had said, “We found you. Come out because it’s time for us all to sit down for dinner as a family” and I had responded “But I have this great stuff that I’m holding which is more important to me than being with you or eating with you. I’d rather live my life here folded up in the roll away, hidden in the closet than come out to walk around in my Father’s house and dine at his table so go away.”

4.     How sad that would have been to have been found and not rejoiced over being found!

5.     What a tragic waste of life that would have been.

I.       And to push this further I think one reason Jesus said the things he said today in our scripture passage is that when he plays hide and seek and he finds us what he really wants to find is a disciple.

1.     In all honesty there’s a difference between being a church member and being a disciple.

2.     The church is supposed to help make disciples of Jesus Christ but far too often we present church membership like membership in the Kiwanis or the Ruritan Club.

3.     Those are fine organizations and I been a member of both and as I’ve said before I served a church where the Ruritan Club to which I belonged and that met at that church was more religious than that church.

4.     The members of that Ruritan Club had a lot more spiritual depth than the members of that congregation.

5.     I looked forward to club meetings more than church meetings because the club meetings were holier and did more to feed my soul.

6.     One reason was that particular congregation wanted to hang on to their stuff, were overly proud of their building, were self-satisfied and had absolutely no desire to change.

7.     At the Ruritan meetings we talked about how to give our resources and ourselves away which is a vital aspect of discipleship.

8.     That group was determined that they weren’t going to have any toys left when they died.

9.     I think that is a sign of spiritual maturity and how sad when it is found in greater abundance by organizations that are not specifically the Body of Christ.

III.              Folks, Jesus is playing hide and seek.

A.    He’s been doing this from a human perspective for a long time and I can assure you that he is good at it, very good at it.

1.     He will find you and he will find this church.

2.     Be clear the Kingdom of God is a gift but your hands will be better able to receive God’s kingdom if they are not clutching material possessions.

3.     You are a child of God but many are the scripture passages that remind us that we are to grow up into the full stature of Christ so we are to mature.

4.     Those who are mature when Christ finds them are disciples.

5.     And finding a disciple makes Jesus so happy.

6.     So examine your discipleship because you’d be wise to be ready for more than a game of hide and seek.