Trust: What is Essential 6-14-15

How many of you have read The Little Prince? It may be my favorite book ever. It is hardly a manly man’s book. It is a simple children’s book that you can read in an hour or so. It was perfect for me as an idealistic adolescent. For Children’s Sunday today, I would like to tell you a little of the story and then relate it to this rather difficult passage from Paul and about sharing our faith with new people.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10; 14-17 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please God. 10 For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for the One who died and was raise for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!

6-8 That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming. 9-10 But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.

14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One person died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. Christ included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. 16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! 

June 14, 2015

Trust: What is Essential 

Without seeing you, God of Life, we trust you. What is essential is invisible to the eye.

Maybe it’s a little sappy to admit that I loved this book so much. I hadn’t thought about it for years really, but our assigned reading from 2 Corinthians this morning makes me think that Paul must have read it.

Antoine de St. Exupery claims that his plane crashed in the desert and he met this peculiar boy from another planet, an asteroid really, while he was trying to fix his plane. The Little Prince tells the story of his life, which he says can only be appreciated and understood by children, and people who remember that they once were children.

The Little Prince tells the pilot about his asteroid and a rose that he tended there and a fox with whom he established a deep relationship. The fox invites the little prince to tame him.

The little prince says, “I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”

“To establish ties?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”

The story leads up to an important secret which the fox shares with the little prince.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

 

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Paul says in our passage for this morning (in the Message translation), “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going… Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. … Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!

 

This is what we are about as Christians, according to Paul, inviting people to be tamed by the Living God, to learn to trust in something we don’t see, but which makes us a new creation, makes us part of God’s new life! This is what we invite people to as a church. This is what evangelism is, inviting people to experience the Living God in Jesus Christ. It’s very much a one-on-one process – it starts not with the church, but with a relationship, a kind of being tamed.

I’m paraphrasing now a writer from The Interpreter Magazine, a United Methodist journal. The only way we can reach out to people beyond ourselves as disciples is to build trust through authentic relationship. We are no longer living in a church-centric world. The church is no longer a valued institution. So we have to rebuild trust and value with outside folks through one-on-one relationships.

As we tame each other, as we find ourselves in relationship with the Living God, we see each other with the heart, with the eyes of the heart. We no longer judge each other by what they have or how they look. We are part of a community that itself is God’s new creation, God’s reclaiming of creation.

You’ve heard of the Nuns on the Bus who were traveling around the country trying to get lawmakers to act with more compassion? The director of the group that sponsored the Nuns on the Bus, is a woman named Simone Campbell. She was on the radio this morning talking about their attempts to influence legislators to craft budgets that benefit the 100%. That’s how she put it. You’ve heard the slogan about being for the 99%? I think that slogan is a way of talking about God’s concern for the poor, but the Nuns on the Bus put it even better when they talk about God’s concern for the 100%!

Meister Eckhart, the fourteenth century mystic once observed, “The spiritual life is not a process of addition, but rather of subtraction.” What we subtract in our lives depends of course on what initially fills it – ambition, addiction, suffering, whatever distracts us from the realm of God. Paul let us know that whatever those trials are, whatever those distractions and problems are in our life, our lives can be transformed when we invite Christ into our lives, when we trust that the Living God is with us on the road.

When we know God in Christ is with us, when we are tamed by God’s unending love, we know we are part of a new creation, part of what God wants for the world. At that moment when we accept that love, when we become a new creation from the inside out, God begins subtracting our anxieties, our doubts, and our fears.

We come to trust that God walks with us through all the peaks and valleys of our lives. We trust that God is with us, right in the center of our worship, not high up and removed from us, but right here in our midst. When we know this invisible creative force is with us, as near as our very breath, we sing, “without seeing you, we love you, without touching you, we embrace; without knowing you, we follow; without seeing you, we believe.”

Without seeing you, we love you. Without seeing you, we trust you. We are part of your new creation. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?