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Victorious Life

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Strain and Stress: It’s Source and Cure

Communion: Strain and Stress: It’s Source and Cure

2 Corinthians 5:1-21

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

2 Corinthians 5:1-21, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; but what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to be proud of us, so that you may be able to answer those who pride themselves on a man’s position and not on his heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Amen.

I try to see if there is a deeper place that Jesus has for me in himself especially on Calvary and so that’s what I try to do. I think that you probably try to do the same thing. I just think that it is very easy to slide into a slightly legalistic approach to that; it’s very easy to say, “Well, yes I know that I died with Jesus. I know he took me into destruction in himself. I know that that is true. Now are there any things that I know that I shouldn’t do that I am doing. Now think of the “Traits of the Self Life” – jealousy or have I been irritable this week?”

I think it’s very easy to get into that kind of an approach to it. That’s not to be looked down upon because God is able to use some of those terms to bring light to you and make it a living experience of communion but I think it’s very easy to almost regard it in a kind of mechanical way. “Okay let’s run down the list or let me see, can I remember any time when there was strain in me this week? Was there any time when I felt strained? Or is there any time when I felt stressed?”

Or then we might get into inward sin and you might feel is there any time where I didn’t say anything but I really did feel some resentment about that. Or is there any time when I might not have shown it but I did feel a bit impatient, more than a little impatient there. I think God is able to use that kind of self examination but it seems to me what God is giving us is an opportunity for a communion each month is to let Jesus interview us. To let Jesus interview us, to ask him, “Lord is there any way in which I am not with you? Is there any way in which I am not willing to enter into what you bore for me? Is there any way in which you have died to yourself and you have brought me to a death to myself and I’m not abiding in that? Is there any way you can see that I am slipping off the cross?”

I don’t know what has made you willing to be crucified with Jesus. I think what makes me willing is the heart of that old hymn that doesn’t necessarily refer to death with Jesus but it’s “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.” I think that’s what moves in me. I think I’d rather be with Jesus without anything than with myself with everything. I’d rather be with Jesus in death or even in annihilation. I’d rather be with him than with myself and all the things that I would like.

You probably have your own experience but it seems to me it’s that, that communion gives you an opportunity for. It’s an opportunity to ask the Savior himself to speak to you and to point out to you anything that he can see where you are just not quite accepting all that he has died to in you. So that’s first thing that I thought was important.

The second is that God seemed to point out to me for this morning is the old illustration that they give at times. You are just a frame in which God is painting a picture of Jesus. You and your life are just a frame in which God is painting a picture of his son. I’d just say even more than that, here day by day and moment by moment Jesus’ spirit is painting a picture of him in your life that he will not paint in anybody else’s life. And that that’s the meaning of all the things that happen to us, all the things that we experience. There Jesus’ spirit painting a picture of himself in your life that he is painting in nobody else’s life.

That is actually happening second by second in you. Communion is an opportunity to ask him to show you if there is anything else that he wants to bring about of himself in you and he can show it to you. So it seems to me that it is an opportunity to allow Jesus to enter in to us and to speak to us himself about our death with him and his life in us. And I think it is a holy time and not by any means just a routine bringing our accounts up to date with God but it is a stopping time in the middle of our lives that gives us an opportunity to sink more deeply into him and to rise more completely from him because the deeper you sink into him the more complete is your resurrection and the more of the old that you let go of the more of the new you receive and there is a brightness and a liveliness that he has for us that is free from self completely.

I don’t know how much you feel it yourself but every time I see heaviness I see self. It’s self that makes us heavy, it’s self that makes us burdened, it’s self that holds us down, it’s self that steals our joy, it’s self that brings our anxiety and our concern and worry. So it’s just an opportunity again to come absolutely clean and to take your place in him on the cross, dead to self and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let us pray.