To Touch the Green Grass of Home
SERMON# TEN APRIL 2018
Readings: Acts 4: 5-12 and John 10: 11 – 18
To Touch the Green Grass of Home
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,
He leads me in paths of righteousness,
For you are with me …,”
From Psalm 23
There is a saying: “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Somehow we know that this is not always true. There were times when we may have thought so only to discover later on that it was not the case. And sometimes this can leave us with regrets. How could we have been so blind?
Today we are talking about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. With Jesus the grass is green! Psalm 23 speaks of paths of righteousness – and linking it with Jesus, being made right with God and as a result the right behaviour or what is expected of Jesus’ disciples.
The Good shepherd laid down his life for us. It speaks not only about the cross, but a life that gives and in this giving reveals to us a different way than the way of the world. One such difference is that we are to respond with non-violence to violence. We live in a ‘high violence’ society; whether it is in the work place, at home or in politics. We have learned to react violently to what confronts us. Jesus insists on non-violence as a way to react to the threat and acts of violence. We know sometimes people have the responsibility to act with violence in order to prevent the spread of further violence but in general as Christians our first and gut reaction must be to be non-violent. This is how Jesus was. Being with the Good Shepherd is to be in the place of non-violent resistance. This is the green grass for us, the better place. To give in to demands to act with violence is to think and feel that the grass may be greener on that side by doing so, but the Good Shepherd thinks otherwise. In fact by insisting that we are non-violent he leads us to places of life and nurture.
We also do many things in Jesus name. We pray in his name, we heal in his name and we comfort each other in his name and so on. Whenever something is done in Jesus’ name or power there is opposition to it. And sometimes the opposition can come from inside of us. We think we are doing it in his name while it is all about ourselves.
An example: in Jesus name we ‘hate the sin and love the sinner’ for this sounds like something Jesus would do. We love to do the things Jesus would do. Remember: ‘What would Jesus do?” But before we look at what would Jesus do we first have to ask what Jesus did. The number one sin Jesus hated was the lack of compassion for sinners on the side of the Pharisees and others or the authorities, whether religious or political or economic. So, when we say ‘what would Jesus do,’ when it comes to hating the sin and love the sinner we must remember that he hated the sin; ‘the lack of compassion for people or sinners.’ That is why Peter, Jesus’s disciple, is called to account by the authorities for his actions. The sins we often think about when we say something like ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’ is not always the sin which Jesus thought about if he would say something like ‘hate the sin but love the sinner.’ How compassionate are we when it comes to those who are ‘sinful’ in our eyes? Do we really treat them the same way as Jesus would have? Is the way we think about sin and sinners the same as Jesus did or is it all about ourselves and how we define sin and sinners?
The Good Shepherd leads us to places that give life and to be compassionate is one such place. Others would want to promise us that the grass is greener where there is no compassion but only condemnation and rejection for then we can live only for ourselves.
The grass is not always greener on the other side. It is green on Jesus’ side or when we are with Jesus – having been made right with God we now fulfil the demands of discipleship. It is green where there is non-violence and compassion. That is the Good shepherd leading us.
“O God who is creator of this earth and all in it. We thank you for your goodness and grace that follow us all the days of our lives. Help us to always hear the voice of the Good Shepherd so we may not be lost in our selfishness and tendency to violence but even now and in the later life find that we have been led to the green green grass of home. Amen.”