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Friendship With Our Maker

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Lesson 26 of 32
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The Purpose of Our Life

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Body of Christ Disciplines

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

1 Corinthians 12:14, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.

But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.”

I thought that an important verse was say 1 Corinthians 12:15, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.” So just because you say, “I’m not part of the body,” it doesn’t make you less a part of the body. In other words, we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus and whether you believe it or I believe it, or whether you even act like it or I act like it, the fact is we are created in Jesus and we’re part of Jesus and that’s reality, that’s a fact. And that’s just a fact that will not change just because you say it’s not true. You and I are just bits of Jesus.

And it came to me in the first prayer there that we are perky conceited little asses, because we really think always, almost always, in terms of ourselves, “Well, I’m myself you know and yes, obviously the Lord Jesus died for me and I certainly worship and love him and I ought to praise him every day.” But we act as if we are apart from him. We act as if we have some existence on our own and if you reflect on your own attitudes, and your own decisions, and your own actions in your life, I think you’ll find that a lot of our life if not all of our life, is lived actually as if, “I’m Ernest O’Neill. I’m Lucy Blomfield. Yes, I have various talents and various gifts and I may not be as considerate as everybody else but I well, I have my own life and yes I will give it to the Lord, you know.” And it’s so conceited.

There is such an inborn conceit about us that is virtually insufferable. When you reflect that in actual fact we’re not existing on our own. We are not apart from God. We are actually part of Jesus and the only reason we are able to have another thought or to be conscious of anything else this next second is because Christ’s invisible life is in us. I was saying to Marty, oh that one of the philosophical points that they make to us or they made to us in Philosophy One at university was simply questioning the law of cause and effect, which of course, I as a 17 year old coming from high

school thought, “Well you can’t question the law of cause and effect obviously, there’s cause and effect.”

And then of course, the old Macbeth, his name was Professor Macbeth, started with the billiard balls and you hit the white ball with your cue and it rolls over and hits the red ball and knocks the red ball into the pocket. And we say of course, we brought that about, we with our cue carefully directed the white ball so that it hit the red ball exactly at the right angle and shot it off at an angle into the pocket. And then of course he says, “Yes, but what if those events were just concomitant?” Concomitant means if they just happen together. “What if those just happen together? What if just some other force just arranged that when your cue would hit the white ball a couple of seconds later that white ball would roll over, hit the red ball, and then the red ball would go into the pocket. But that this other force actually arranges the red ball to go into the pocket, that it’s not your white ball hitting it that knocks it in. The red ball just happened to go in at the same moment as the white ball hit it.”

And of course, once you begin to analyze cause and effect as carefully as that it becomes quite difficult to prove that a cause had a certain effect. It becomes impossible to prove it when you and I realize how many things had to be held together, molecules, protons, neutrons, just to keep that red ball looking like a red ball because we know it’s a lot of little electrical charges spinning around each other. And obviously, the only way that red ball appears as a red ball to us is because some force keeps all those protons, neutrons, spinning around in that shape and it’s the same with the white ball.

In other words, we know that everything there on that billiard table is held together by, well the Bible says it clearly, “All things were created in Christ and without him nothing was created. And all things hold together in Christ.” And so the whole universe holds together in Christ so it becomes more and more obvious that what we say is our cause brought about this effect is almost not worth saying because there are so many other things that are held together by God himself that one has to say, “No, God himself gives the appearance of us doing things but actually we do very little.”

Of course, the proof of it, or the evidence, or suggestion of it is in all our lives because we know how we work, and work, and work. And we know that sometimes the work produces sales and sometimes it doesn’t produce a thing. And we thereupon of course, begin to work out, “Oh yes, it was because I didn’t make the presentation right.” Or, “It was because of this, or because of that.” Until we run out of all the reasons because we get such a conglomeration of reasons, “Why did the silver go? Or why does it not go?” Or, “Why did the enamel sell in this shop and it didn’t sell here?” And after you’ve gone through all your arguments you at last finally give up and if you were really honest you’d see it’s almost impossible to explain. But of course, we’re not really honest, we want to hold on to our own little conceited ability to do things.

But the truth is that everything is actually in the hands of Jesus and we do not cause anything. He allows us, for the sake of our sanity I suppose, or for the sake of teaching us something about order, he allows us to think that we bring about certain things but actually we don’t. We are all just part of him and of course, you can see the real danger in us getting caught up with running our own lives. The real danger of thinking, “I caused this and I cause that, I bring this about therefore I ought to in the next weeks bring this about.” And it’s not long, we’ll those of us who try to lead would see that whether we lead or not we all see it in our own personal lives how you can get utterly caught up. You feel, “The thing is getting out of control, it’s out of control.”

Out of control? It was never in control.

But, we kind of persuade ourselves that we have some things in control and there are a few that are out of control and we get worked up or exacerbated. Actually, we should be batty and insane every moment of every day because we don’t control anything we are just part of Jesus and we’re part of his life and it’s him that brings about a semblance of order in our lives. But how often, how often when you turned a corner in the car and the other thing has been coming straight towards you? How often has the bike started to slide? How often have so many things? How often has your body almost stopped working and the Father steps in, Jesus steps in and lifts the whole thing? How many of us here would say we would be alive just because of our own care and own careful driving? No, all of us would say, “At some moment we missed it. At some moment we went over the crown of the road and if the other guy had not been awake we would have been dead.”

So we are just part of Jesus but you can see how insufferable we are, how insufferably conceited little independent creatures we are that we keep on in a sense negotiating from this kind of little fortress we have called Ernest O’Neill, or Marty Poehler, this little self with its walls and yes, we’ll reach out, we will reach out to Christ. It’s ridiculous, a little fly on here says, “I will reach out to Ernest O’Neill.” That’s, “You’ve finished reaching out fly.” That’s all God has to do.

So it’s important for us to see that because we say, “We are not part of the body.” Or because we think as if we aren’t part of the body, that doesn’t make us less a part of the body. We are a part of Jesus. We are part of him. We are a little bit of him and what I thought he wanted to say to us today was “What then is our life to be?” What then is our life to be, our daily life, our moment-by-moment life? If that is the case, what is our life to be? Because we can see it can no longer be the life that we normally live. I mean, that’s a meaningless life where we – well, it’s a life without order. I mean, the world tries to pretend that there’s an order to it, you go and you get your money after you’ve done your work and then you buy your food with your money and you buy clothes with it. The world tries to give us a feeling that there’s some kind of order but we see, no there is no order because repeatedly that whole thing would have broken down completely if some other power or force had not stepped in.

So what is our life to be? If it’s not to be that getting us spending we lay a waste our days, if it’s not to be that tomorrow I will go to such and such a city and do this thing and that thing, if that is in fact a meaningless pretense then what is our life to be? And I mean, the Savior said, if you look at John 4:34, even his life, even his own life had a very clear purpose. John 4:34, “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.’” “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.” I mean, that’s what Jesus is here for.

But of course, it doesn’t take a genius at logic to see that if we are part of him that is the purpose of our lives. That’s the purpose of our lives. And that’s why he says food, I mean, can you see how conceited we are. We say, “Oh yes, my food is to do – yes, it would certainly be much healthier for me to spend my life doing the will of the Lord. That’s a healthy thing it’s psychologically healthy. That’s what it means, it’s my food you know, to do that.” Or we say worse than that we say, “Yes, yes, Jesus was certainly dedicated to that and we should make that our very food. We should make that our very food. Yes I am rather arbitrary about that I just think oh well I’m doing something good for God, or I’m paying him a compliment by trying to do his will. Really, my attitude should be that that’s the very meaning of my life.”

I don’t want to say go to hell but I say what bluff. Our food is to do the will of him who sent me? It’s our very life. It’s our very life. There is no point of us being here. It is mad, it is foolishness the eating, the sleeping, the fun with the chocolate sorbet and all that but it’s nothing there’s no point in it. It’s death, it’s emptiness. Our food is to do the will of him. Our food, our very life and I’m not saying our life as Christian Corps, that’s stupid that’s a nothing. Christian Corps is a nothing. I’m saying each one of you and me, our very life, our life does not exist unless it is doing what God sent you to do. You, you, each one of you and me not you as a member of Christian Corps, not you as a sales person, not me as whatever I am, not that, that doesn’t matter two bits. But Jesus exists in each of you here in this room, you are part of him and he has a will of his Father to do in you and it’s not just so often we say, “Oh yes, overall, overall Lucy contributes this to it.” And we’re so stupid you know, Christian Corps, Christian Corps, Christian Corps, and Lucy contributes to this. Or, Fish or Crown, Lucy contributes this you know, she’s design. Now Mary she contributes this, you know. Now Myron he contributes this.” No, no, each moment of every day independent of what everybody else here thinks you contribute or what does it matter what they think, each moment of every day Christ himself has a work to do through you, through you.

He has things for your hands to do, things for your eyes to do, things for your tongue to speak and every time our tongue is babbling, mine especially, every time our tongue is babbling and our eyes are flitting around, and our thoughts are wandering everywhere, every time that’s happening we are doing nothing but wasting time, nothing but wasting time. We’re just blowing in the wind, that’s all we’re doing because each second of every day Jesus himself has a word, a thought, an attitude, an action to do through us and he has it and it will flow out through us. And that’s why I think it’s right to say the arm does what the head of the body wants done and the eye does what the head of the body wants to do.

So you know if you say to me, “Your right eye is blinking.” Well, yes that comes from my mind. My head determines my eye blinks so Jesus is the head of the body and he determines what you do and that’s why it’s so important to see that your life and mine is to act, and speak, and think, and live from Jesus’ heart, from Jesus’ heart. Our life is to live from the heart of Jesus which is always why I find it a little tricky, I found it always a little bit – it just didn’t seem right to me when of course at seminary, I’m sure it’s like doctors, and medics, and nurses, and everybody who is trained in a profession, when you’re away from patients, or you’re away from church or whatever it is, you joke about the things that you’ve learned to operate and you’ve learned to control. And I always had difficulty doing it.

It’s the same today when I know we kind of – we kind of say it lightly and part of fun but that’s – we have done it where we talk about something serious and then somebody jokes about it afterwards. Well, I mean I understand the attitude and it’s kind of the attitude lighten up buddy and that sort of thing, but I’ve always found it a little difficult because I think we’ve to live from the heart of Jesus. Where we talk about things as ethical actions that we ought to do I kind of agree with you, we can joke about those you know, but it seems to me there’s a fine line there where you go over, when you joke about certain things, you go over that fine line from joking about even the way the person has expressed it, you go over then into touching something holy, the heart of Christ.

It seems to me that’s why the only point and purpose of our life is to live every moment from Jesus’ heart. I don’t think that will be as solemn as we all think. I think he may smile and laughter and jokes and I think that’s why old Francis and the guys were so good, the guy who turned backwards

summersaults out of his joy of the Virgin Mary. I think the religious life is far different from what we all say it is but it seems to me our life is only real if it’s lived from Jesus’ heart and Jesus’ heart is not the list of things that we think Jesus would do. It’s not that, it’s a closeness to Christ. It’s a oneness with him so that he feels something, we feel it, we do it. It’s that. It’s that kind of immediacy.

I think I’ve bored the old Catholics enough with this but of course the thing we had great trouble with when we came to a Catholic home, I told you about it, it was a big picture of Jesus and then his breast open and his heart it seemed sometimes bleeding but then it was called the sacred heart of Jesus and of course we – oh, the sacred heart of Jesus. That is it. That is it. I mean, I don’t know all that it means in the Catholic Church so I understand how it can become dead tradition, the sacred heart of Jesus, that’s the meaning of our life; the sacred heart of Christ, living from the sacred heart of Christ.

And it seems to me that brings glorious diversity and great beauty in individual’s lives and of course, a freedom from the dreadful agony that that dear brother of ours Dan McCarty, obviously got under. Because of course, it takes away all this pressure and feeling of burden, and strain, and stress and takes away all this fear of man and all this desire to please this one or that one. Oh, it just frees you from the whole – all the human pressures that can take place when you’re part of a community because of course the community falls back down into its rightful position and raised up in your head and your heart is this wonderful master, this wonderful Jesus of whom you are part and he becomes everything to you and your whole life and every day is built on what he’s saying to you. And of course at times he speaks through a bird, and at times through the sky, but it’s a glorious continual communion with him that becomes the very meaning of your life, the very heart of your life.

And it seems to me that is what our life is to be. It’s to be a life lived from the sacred heart of Christ, from Jesus’ heart. And I think that’s part of the meaning of those who belong to Christ have the spirit of Christ. I think it’s the whole spirit of Christ that issues from us day-by-day. And I suspect that that then would blossom forth into new jewelry and all the rest of it, all the new designs and all that. I don’t want to be ridiculous but when we talk about, “Well, I’m trusting God for new designs.” Ah, forget it you’re no where near getting new designs, you’re trusting the Lord for new designs. New designs come bursting out of the joy of Jesus’ life in us.

I mean it’s nice and holy to say, “Yeah, I’m trusting the Lord for new designs.” Well you don’t need to talk about it, you don’t need to say, “Lord Jesus, don’t forget I’m trusting you for new designs. I’m gonna trust you. Okay.” And he says, “Okay, you can trust me.” No, I mean, it’s a glorious loving friendship. I hesitate to say this one but it just sticks in my mind even though it’s not the most holiest poem by any means, but it’s a modern poem and a little sexy I think, really. But the guy says, “Lovers in the act dispense with the meum-teum sense.” Meum in Latin is me, my. Teum is you. Lovers in the act dispense with the this is mine this is yours of course because in the sense it is biblical that the husband is the master of the wife’s body and da-da-da but that’s what it is in Jesus.

We are lovers, see. I think that’s what Francis and Saint John of the Cross touch and what is so alien often to us with our hardness and with our mental Christianity. And we often aren’t quite comfortable with that. We wonder, “Now these guys they weren’t married. I wonder what attitude had they.” But actually, they were lovers of Christ because he is our lover and he loves us and has taken us to himself and opened his very heart and body to us and we are perched in there kind of

with our clothes on you know, negotiating out with him who has already exposed himself in nakedness on the cross. And then of course, opened his whole heart to us and wants us to move with him in love day-by-day and moment-by-moment. And we of course push off and, “No we will live by your laws Lord, we will follow your example.” And he says, “I don’t want that. I want you to know my heart. I want you to feel my heart, and act from my heart, and speak from my heart. That’s what I want. That’s why I did all this. That’s why I made you.” And it seems to me that’s what it is, that’s what our life is about. Let us pray.