The Seventh Sunday of Easter/Mother’s Day
May 13, 2018
“Protected By Truth”
Rev. John R. Larson
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Not everyone expresses love in the same way. Dr. Gary Chapman, a Christian counselor and author, wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. The five are:
- Words of Affirmation (Verbally affirming your partner for the good things he or she does)
- Quality Time (Giving your partner undivided attention)
- Receiving Gifts (Presenting a gift to your partner that says, “I was thinking of you”) (Like my Marilyn receiving a King Cobra Driver for Mother’s Day!!)
- Acts of Service (Doing something for your partner that is meaningful to him or her)
- Physical touch (Kissing, embracing, holding hands, making love)
How do you receive it? How do you give it? I’m amazed in my pre-marital counseling how many couples don’t really know the best way to express love to the one they are going to marry!!
Jerry Kieschnick, who served as President of our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, wrote this article about “Mother’s Day Love”. Reflect on the following words from a mother, expressing what she wants for Mother’s Day: “Every year my children ask me the same question: What do I want for Mother’s Day? After thinking about it, I decided to give them my real answer: I want you. I want you to keep coming around. Ask me questions, ask me advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help.
I want you to come over and complain or brag about whatever is on your mind and heart. Tell me about your job, your worries, your dreams. I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me. Hearing you laugh is music to my ears. I spent a large part of my life raising you the best I knew how. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work.
Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. I want you to spend your money making a better life for yourself and your family. I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Mother’s Day, I say ‘nothing’, because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year long. YOU! I want you!”
Got it? Quality time. Self. Being Connected. Now I hope my dear wife, a mother of three and grandma of 10 gets that new driver that she has been thinking about for a long time, but maybe she wants something more. Maybe all of you, mom’s, dad’s, kids, those who are single all want the same thing – that close connection to others, their time, their heart.
God has a love language too. What is it? Any guesses? From our reading in John 17 the love language that God has for us is prayer. John 17, spoken the day before He is arrested and put on trial and then crucified, is His High Priestly Prayer. The chapter begins, “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed, ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” (John 17:1)
Jesus was a pray-er. He would wake up early and go to a remote area and pray. He taught that you should “always pray and never give up.” (Luke 18:1) He prayed so intensely in the Garden that blood started to flow from His forehead. He teaches us of the centrality of prayer.
And He prays for us. In our reading He mentions the prayers He would make for His followers in 30 AD. “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” (John 17:9) Then a few verses later we are included in the language of love, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” (John 17:20). He prays for us, and boy do we need it!!
His language of love for us is His protection. We are secure in His care. Jesus said, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.” (John 17:12) “My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)
We are protected by His truth. “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17b) We are protected by God’s truth; but we can be destroyed by lies. Look at where our lies get us. We dig a hole and we sink deeper and deeper down. We lie about our sin. Then we cover it up. One lie leads to another and we walk farther and farther from what is real and true and honest. Sometimes we go so far that we don’t even know what truth is. In Thursday’s Denver Post the account of a man being sentenced by a judge was given. The judge said of this man, “He can’t speak the truth. He only speaks one lie after another. He makes up his own reality.”
Christ’s prayer is that we would come to the truth of the needs of our soul. We need the truth of God in our life. Remember, the hymn, “I need thee, Lord, I need thee, every hour I need thee…” We’re protected when we know the truth of the fullness of God’s complete salvation in Jesus Christ. In His prayer Jesus says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
God doesn’t protect us by allowing us to run away from the difficulties of life, the problems that are real and present, but by holding us during the hard times. We’re not taken out of the world, but made strong in it, by a powerful God. Moses, Elijah and Jonah had too much of the world and its troubles and asked to simply leave. Elijah – “He came to a broom tree, sat under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord…Take my life.’” (I Kings 19:4) But God wouldn’t and didn’t. His language of love was not escape but strength. Protected by truth. Protected by His word.
Do you God loves you the same way? His prayer for us is the same today. If lies consume your life or you just want to escape and not face the hard times, God has something better – We are protected by His persistent truth and abiding love.
His prayer? “That they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11) Unity with our God and with one another is His prayer. Isolation from Him, knowing that we have kept God far away from our life, on purpose, keeps us distant. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4a) What a good language of love He speaks.
His prayer? “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Sanctify – set apart, having a purpose in life. His language of love is that we would see our high and great calling in life. Life, all of it, from work, to recreation, to being quiet, to being overwhelmingly busy, when connected to God, is holy, good and right. Holy is not reserved for a church building – every moment of every day is sanctified. That is His language of love into our daily lives.
I think that the language of love that Jesus has for us – protected by the truth, having unity and being sanctified – is the same language of love that we can have in our families.
My younger sister, when she was in kindergarten, made a plate for our mom. It still hangs in their house, in Sun City, Arizona. It reads, “To The Best Mom I Ever Had.” To my knowledge it was the only mom she ever had. What made our mom the best? She had a language of love that she shared.
Today, within our families the prayer of Jesus must also be our prayer. Pray for God’s protective truth to be evident in your family. His word is truth. Follow that word. It is your compass and direction. It is the path that we have to walk. It protects us from falling away from what is good and right.
His greatest protective truth is the forgiveness that He grants to us in Jesus. When we turn to Him, when we seek His face, He is ever present with His cleansing and that desire to allow us to begin new again. Pray that your family can begin again with such protective love.
His prayer for us? “That they may be one as we are one.” What family doesn’t want that? Instead of brokenness and fractures, people holding grudges and hating one another, our prayer and God’s work, is that “they may be one.” That is our desire too. But it may take some repentance from us. It may require giving more than our fair share to make it happen. But I guess real love is pretty costly.
Our prayer? Sanctify them. Sanctify, remember? Set apart – having a great purpose in life. Pray that your family everyday makes a difference, a great one, in the lives of others. Sit back and admire the people that God has allowed them to be.
What’s your love language? Can it be modeled after Jesus’ language of love for us? Can it be the gift of prayer for those who we treasure the most? Yes, by God’s grace and Spirit, it can!! Amen!!