(Summary of Sunday Sermon, 19 Mar 2015)
SONS OF GOD
As a teenager, I lived with my parents in Jammu and Kashmir. During one winter vacation, my friends and I had gathered together in the evening. Our conversation was liberally peppered with swear words. Suddenly, I noticed my father and his friend going for their evening walk. I indicated to my friends that my father was nearby and asked them to speak quietly. I referred to my father in a disrespectful manner. I assumed that he wouldn’t have heard me. Later when we sat down for family dinner, my father asked my mother softly, ‘What did we do wrong that our son’s behavior has become like this?’ It was one of those rare occasions when I saw my father cry. He had overheard my disrespectful tone and language. He was hurt.
It hurts a parent when their child misbehaves. God is not a mysterious magician without feelings. He is a person and has emotions. We hurt Him when we disobey Him. In Malachi 1, God asks, ‘A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence?’
We are all called to be sons of the Father. There is no distinction of gender or status before God. John 15:13 says, ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.’ Jesus died for us. The Bible says that when we were yet sinners or enemies of God, Christ Jesus died for us. What great love!
HOW CAN WE LIVE AS SONS OF GOD?
Romans 8:14 says ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.’ The qualification is clear. We have to be led by the Holy Spirit. If we continue to live by worldly opinions, personal views or logic, we won’t be considered as a son of God. Anyone who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior is called the son of God. As we grow in maturity, we are led by the Sprit.
Recently, my wife Anjali took our kids shopping for clothes. Shawn is 11 and Juny is 4 years old. Shawn liked a hat and wanted to buy it. Juny also wanted it. Somehow Juny grabbed the hat from Shawn and bought it for himself. Yesterday, we were on our way to attend a wedding. Juny was sporting the new hat. On the way the children got into an argument about whose hat it was. Shawn said that Juny had grabbed it from him and Juny protested. He tried telling us a tall story that he had somehow grown big when he was in the store and was able to pick the hat from the shelf. After he got it in his hands, he apparently shrunk back to his original size!!
Like Juny, we might think that Christian life happens magically. One moment we’re small, the next, we are suddenly gown up. No, spiritual growth is not attained in a jiffy. It happens as we go through the experiences of life. We become big and pick up those things that we are called to pick. There is a difference between ‘anointing’ and ‘leading’ of the Holy Ghost. As sons of God, we must be led by the Holy Spirit every moment of our lives.
HOW CAN WE BE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD?
We are led by the Spirit of God when we are led by the Word of God. In Mathew 4 Jesus is led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness. When the devil tempted Him, Jesus overcame it by responding with the Word. Jesus was the Word in flesh. The Holy Spirit led Him and brought out the Word of God.
We need to be careful about interpreting the Word. Sometimes, we can’t take the Word literally. A few years back, we received a letter that had quoted the Word completely out of context. That’s not being led by the Holy Spirit. We must understand the context in which the Word was written and apply it to the context. At a recent fasting prayer meeting, I asked everyone to share what God had been teaching them. Himanshu shared that he had been reading Noah’s story in Genesis. Noah was a righteous man of God who built the ark as per God’s instructions. Later, he drank a lot of wine and ended up lying naked. His son Ham saw it and told his brothers. Shem and his other brother came and covered Noah’s nakedness. Himanshu said that around that time that he had read about Noah, he had been conversing with a non-Christian friend. His friend told Himanshu that he knew a Christian man who never maintained his word and because of it, he didn’t think much of Christians. Himanshu was suddenly reminded of the Scripture passage from Noah’s life. Even though he realized that the Christian man was in the wrong, Himanshu decided that he wanted to be like Shem and the other brother. He didn’t want to be like Ham. That is the result of reading the Word, living it and being led by the Spirit of God.
Despite all the ages and eras that have passed, the Word of God is still alive. Nothing can destroy it. The Word of God is a double edged sword. It penetrates the bone and the marrow. When we only look at the letter of the Word, we miss God’s heart. But when we understand the Word in letter and in Spirit, we are led by the Holy Spirit. It is important to study the Word. It is important to understand the text and the context. When we do that we are led by the Spirit of God.
WHY DO WE HAVE TO BE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD?
Psalm 119 says that, ‘I have hidden Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you’. We get easily entangled by sin. Using an abusive word, becoming angry and yielding to it, fighting with our spouse are all sins. In the ancient days, people used bows and arrows. If anyone hit outside the bull’s eye, the crowd would yell, ‘hamashiya’. By this definition, we are all sinners. None of us can ever hit the bull’s eye. Hamashiya will be shouted every time we miss the mark.
The Bible says that the only way we can avoid sinning is by hiding the Word of God within us. Psalm 119 also says ‘your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’. The Spirit of God will help us overcome our problems. There might be fire and water raging against us, but they won’t overwhelm us. God loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to miss the mark. He has laid down the boundary for us, because we are precious in His sight. A couple of days back, the children were alone at home. Anjali and I were in the office. In the evening, we took them out for a treat and returned home quite late. When we were parking the car, we noticed a dying fire in the ground next to our house. Junu announced that Shawn had started that fire earlier in the day while they were playing. We were upset because the fire could have become dangerous. While we were scolding them and hearing them out, Anjali told Shawn, ‘Shawn you are very precious to us. We cannot see anything wrong happening to you. That’s why we are angry.’
We are very precious to the Lord. When He warns, corrects and disciplines us, it is not because He is angry with us. It is because He loves us very much. God won’t let us miss the perfect mark when we are led by the Holy Spirit.