Challenged to Change
Communion: Entering Into Ease
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Think of when you were an eight year old or nine year old, and think of a spring morning going out; you can, I think, catch again the freedom of your heart you and your mind. Now I know there were moments probably for all of us when childhood was not just so wonderful, and when we would be concerned about things, but you can imagine those other moments, maybe at the seaside on holiday or maybe just at home on a spring morning or a summer day when you went out; and just — it was wonderful. I mean, everything was so bright and light, and your mind was so free. And what was there but to enjoy the day, and to enjoy what you have. Or, if you got a new bicycle for Christmas, I suppose you felt the same way. And that is the way it is meant to be!
That is the way it is meant to be! I mean, that’s part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Unless you become his little children you will in no wise enter the kingdom.” Not only trusting as little children, but free and joyful as little children! And that is true; that is the way it is meant to be. And if you think of the things that prevent that, the things that spoil that, those are the things that Christ has borne for us.
So I was trying to find, but I couldn’t find, the whole of the quotation: there’s a song in one of the Gilbert & Sullivan Operas [Iolanthe by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan] and it talks about a poor fellow who can’t get to sleep and it goes, “Da-da-da-da-da-da-da.” And he mentions all the things that crowd into his mind: and he’s in a steamer to Harwich, and it’s turning around like a washing machine, and he’s just worried, and worried, and anxious. But, it presents very well what I think some of us know: at night when you’re trying to get to sleep, and sometimes even during the day, your mind can get a hold of some little worry, or some little anxiety, or some little thing that you can’t solve, and you go round on it, and round and round, and then you eat it, and chew it up, and try to swallow it, and it won’t swallow, and you spit it out again and you eat it again! And your mind just keeps turning on it.
Now I know this is — this seems unbelievable: the pain, it seems so unbearable. But, Christ bore all that as you were bearing it, as well as long before you bore it. But not only that, he bore that for each of us here. But not only that, he bore that for every person that has ever lived. He bore that. You’ll say, “No, he couldn’t; he couldn’t; I can hardly bear it. I sometimes get a headache, I’m so worried about something or so preoccupied with something, or my mind keeps going round, and round on something. To have two of those to bear? To have five to bear? I can’t imagine it! To have a billion to…? I can’t…” But that’s it.
If you say to me, “But no, it’s just me that’s bearing that; Christ doesn’t have to bear that.” Where are you? Who are you in? Aren’t you in him? Wasn’t Hitler in him? Wasn’t Stalin in him? Who do you think bears it? Who do you think bears it? Just you? Just me? The dear Savior bears it. That’s part of what it means to bear our sins, and to carry our pains.
He has no alternative actually. The moment he was willing for his Father to create you and me in him, that moment – I don’t want to use the word because it’s so light — he ‘signed on’. But that moment he agreed to bear that.
Now, here’s the glory of it. He has borne it. It had to be borne. Why? Because every worry, every anxiety, everything that brings tension and strain to you and me, everything that spoils us going out as happy little children who are carefree and light hearted, is sin. No, not just it’s moral wrong; not sin in that way; not just, “No you shouldn’t do that; it’s a sin.” No it is ‘real’ sin; it is living apart from God; it is living as if God has not solved everything; it is living as if your heavenly Father has not foreseen all this, and has already borne it in his Son and has solved it. That’s it.
It’s every worry, every anxiety; it’s every little things that niggles at us and spoils us being – what do we say, as happy as sand boys, as happy as a little child? Every one of those things is sin. And please, I don’t mean moral wrong, and something that you’re going to go to hell for. No, I mean it is deep; it is independent; ‘sin’ in the singular. It is an attitude of independence of God; it is thinking as if God is not. It is thinking as if God did not foresee this moment.
Even the things that you have said to someone else, and they weren’t the brightest; they weren’t the wisest; they had a little bit of pride in them; a little bit of boasting; a little bit of silliness; they passed on a worry to somebody else that you could have taken back; they passed on a little criticism that you could have held back. Even those things Christ has graciously borne for ‘you’; not only borne for you, but turned it around so that the consequences of it are changed. And he wants you therefore in regard to that thing, not to live in regret, but to “lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely.”
And you can see what it is; it’s sin which “clings so closely.” The world lives apart from God, and it lives as if he has not done anything about all the stupid mistakes and the gross errors, and the sins it has committed. And therefore it lives with the burden of those things on it, and it makes it produce all kinds of ridiculous machinations to try to overcome them. And that clings all around us, so that we get into one of those little compartments, those ‘water tight’ compartments where we can only see ourselves, where we can only see our little life and the thing that we did, or the thing we have to take care of tomorrow. The bain-marie [double boiler used to keep food warm] that I can’t – how do I deal with that bain-marie or that person that I’m calling on to sell this jewelry? And how am I going to get these Golden Moments [a line of jewelry some of the listeners are selling] moving. It’s all that attitude is independence of God. See it’s “sin clinging so closely.”
And Christ has borne all that. He has borne every headache you and I have ever had; he has borne every worry and anxiety that we have wasted our time on, and moreover that we have worked again for him through them. Every time we bear something that he has already borne, he looks down and — he’s so dear. I mean he doesn’t say, “You stupid person.” But he says, “My child, let us enter into ease together. Don’t have me live through this all over again. It’s done. I’ve dealt with it. I have a way through. You’re right, the attitude you had was wrong; the action you took was wrong, but I have borne that. That’s what my death was about; I took that whole world of sin in ‘your’ life, and I’ve turned it around. And I already have a way through that difficulty. I already have solved that. Come, I want you to live like my happy children.” And that’s it loved ones.
And I mean, the pain and the agony that he bore is beyond our understanding. I mean, we could not imagine even bearing the five heads here [referring to the listeners] and what they have, or the nine heads here and what they have on top of our own. But he not only bore those, but he bore those of everybody in the world. So the experience of the cross in eternity is just mind boggling. You cannot imagine it.
But then do you see what he says? “Let us therefore lay aside every weight.” All those weights, all those little worries, all those anxieties; “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” So that’s what he’s saying to us this morning.
So the Holy Spirit can reveal to each of us any weights that we still are carrying. The weights of our own personalities often; the weights of our own ‘old attitudes’, the weights of our sins, the weights of every worry we have, because it is just sin, and he is able to reveal that to us. And then he is able to show you the Savior here in front of us saying, “I have borne all that; now give me ease. Give me ease. Lift me down from the cross. Do not go through this yourself. I have gone through it. Do not go through it yourself. Do not drag me back through it.” That’s it. So “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Let us pray.