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A Sacred Trust

Concordia Lutheran Church
The Fifth Week of Epiphany, Feburary 5, 2012

This Sacred Trust
1 Cor 9:16-27

† Immanu El †

May the glorious grace, mercy and peace of God our father and our Master Jesus Christ be realized to be yours.

A Free Pizza and a bottle of soda? If a coin lends heads up?

The coin will spin in the air, and millions will be looking at it, waiting to see how it affects their lives. A single man’s decision will have a dramatic effect on millions, as the Referee announces whether it land heads or tails up!

No, I am not talking about the impact of the coin toss on the game. The coin toss won’t be a factor in the game at all. What really matters, if the coin lands heads up, Papa John will be ordering his stores to give a free pizza and 2 liter bottle of soda to everyone on their mailing list. Tens of million pizzas will be given away for free! I can almost taste mine! Pepperoni, Sausage, Pineapple, Onions, Bell peppers… mmmmmm…

All riding on a coin toss!

Papa John is taking a big risk with his company, and the livelihood of those who have entrusted their money in his franchises. He has invested a lot of his own time – I’ve heard him on two different sports talks radio shows – live from “interview row” at the pre-Superbowl festivities. He just walked up to one, handed him to one team of radio talk show guys, handed them a free pizza and took over their microphones while they ate.

He was doing anything to get the word out, the nearly unbelievable word that millions of pizzas will be given away for free. All of this that he would win some new customers. You can’t say the guy isn’t confident in his product!

In today’s epistle, Paul shows even more confidence in the news he has been given a sacred task to share. He will do far more than invest some time and risk feeding some people. He will offer up his life, he will endure pain, even heartbreak – he will do anything that He might win some….
For that is the ministry God entrusted to Him, indeed a sacred trust!

The Result of Paul receiving this Sacred Trust

It grieved him that people would live without God to the point where any sacrifice wasn’t even considered a discomfort to bear witness to Christ, that some would be “won”

When Paul was baptized, the one who was tasked with terrorizing the church was given a sacred trust. God described his work as becoming the apostle, the one sent to bring word of God’s love to those who were Gentiles – those who were not yet considered to be God’s chosen people, who were not yet part of the gathering of God’s people. What the Old Testament prophets declared was now coming true, Christ’s light would now invade the darkness, bringing hope to those who were hopeless, bringing healing to those who were broken.

Paul would do anything to win some, and he would make the disciples he mentored share in this concept. For Timothy, that meant that this half jewish-half gentile zealous believer would have to be circumcised, because they were going to minister to the Jews. Imagine if Concordia decided to send the elders to Israel on a mission trip – but we had to convince them to be circumcised – so that they could be “under the law” to win some who were “under the law”.

Other disciples would endure jail with him, and getting beaten – for the sake of the gospel. He would let others know that he was weak and broken, not to gain their pity, but to help them understand that he knew where they were in life – that he might win them as well!

You can read it in his words, and in Peter’s and James and John’s – these apostles, the more they realized the depth of Christ’s love, were compelled to share that which they knew, they had to share the hope they were given, to see others cleansed as they were cleansed by God.

No cost was to great a sacrifice, no discomfort unbearable, matter of fact, we wouldn’t hear about it, except that Paul was teaching us of the value of the gospel, the incredible power that changes our lives. They would risk all, give all, give up all, that some would be won to Christ.

The Sacred trust –

But it is not their job alone. This need to proclaim Christ crucified, to unite people to His death at the cross, that they might join in His resurrection, is not only something they were entrusted with – everyone of us shares in that trust.

In this translation, the phrase repeated over and over “preach the good news” isn’t the word for preaching in greek – that phrase is but one word – evangelize – euangelizomai in the Greek. It means to share the good news, to shout it out – to make people aware of something more incredible than free pizza and diet coke!

To evangelize – to do the work of an evangelist is something we all can do. Most of us share the news of our lives – both good and bad – already.

Sharing this news – the news of God’s love – this is the sacred trust given – it is what will see us be all things to all people, that we might win some, that they would know the joy of being under God’s mastery, part of a kingdom that doesn’t end.

How can I encourage you – and others, to live out this sacred trust!

This Sacred Trust lived out

It’s important to hear all of Paul’s words in this – especially the first two verses,

“16 Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!
17 If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust.”

Sometimes I wonder why we, I included, aren’t out there sharing our faith more frequently with those with whom we come in contact. Do we realize, like Paul that we are compelled to do the work of evangelists, to share the hope we have in Christ, and why we trust God with our lives? Do we share the promises of healing, of cleansing us of all unrighteousness, the promise of an abundant and eternal life, lived in His presence right now?

Last week – we talked a little about the old man, the one who was bound by sin and guilt, and how, thought that isn’t us, it still affects us. One of the challenges with sharing our faith, with living in Christ is that the old adam haunts us. He plays with our fears – getting us to believe people with think us nuts, or that we will offend them forever if we invite them to a bible study or church service. The old adam, bound by sin, loves to create a sense of apathy – woops – one person said no – therefore the next 5000 will as well, so why bother! Or convince us that we’ve done enough, that God wants “them” and “the pastor” to be the one that is supposed to share out faith.

Sometimes it is tempting to just use the law and demand that you all do the work God has called you to do, it works in some churches. To force you all to do the work God has called you to do. But that would not be for your joy…

Seriously the old man, unredeemed, dominated by sin, unrighteousness, apathy, has been crucified with Christ – who you are is not that person – but a beautiful child of God. That is where Paul finds his own will being transformed! Transformed from one who has no imitative, no desire to share his faith; transformed into wanting to do anything, to help us doing anything! It could be taking someone to lunch, to holding their hand during and illness, even to being circumcised – without thought to what it costs us or our discomfort, if that is what it takes for them to see what God would reveal to them – His mercy, His healing, His love, His presence.

This is Discipline

That is what Paul is talking about when he says,” 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”

The word there (in verse 23) for blessing is the word from which we get fellowship, from which we get community, and communion. Paul says that he is willing to do anything to share in the good news, and thereby share in the communion God creates – when His word is shared – as sinners are called into a life, cleansed, made whole, filled with peace.

The desire to do this is not of our own will, but it stems from grasping the power of His love, the sheer incredible glory that we find as we realize we are in His presence.

That is the discipline we need – the discipline of being found in the presence of God, with His love pouring out – the very discipline found here at the altar, as we bend our knees and receive the promise of a new life – the Body and blood of Christ. Take you time as you come to this altar – think about what it is you shall receive, what you received when God baptized you,

For from experiences His cleansing, from being washed over by His love, and from knowing His presence, you too will consider it nothing to do everything, to fulfill a sacred trust, and invite others to join in this communion, this faith, this relationship with God.

For they too need a peace that passes all understanding…oh do they need what is mean for all, and given because of the cross! AMEN? AMEN!
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