A New Life Coach

by | Apr 22, 2024 | Sermons | 0 comments

April 21, 2024 

Scripture Reading: I John 3:16-24  

In the last few Sundays, I’ve talked to you about what I imagine to be a huge upheaval and  chaos among the followers of Jesus for some time following the ascension of Jesus. The big  question must have been: How do we connect to God now? We counted on Jesus to teach us  that!  

Even today, we’re still counting on someone else to tell us how to know and understand God!  The pastor, the church. “Leave it to the experts!’ I’ll just come to church and listen to the pastor and decide if I like it! Done!”  

I wonder if that’s what God could have intended from the beginning? This willingness on the  part of the average church goer to leave it to the experts has always been a temptation for the  church. It would behoove us all to consider again what Jesus so carefully explained to his followers  just before he was crucified. It was what he said when he was carefully preparing them for his  upcoming departure.  

In the latter chapters of the Gospels, you can see Jesus preparing them for this transition. He  had become their dearest friend, their best-ever teacher and their life-coach but he knew that  arrangement could not last! So, he tried to tell them that when he left them, he was preparing another  life coach for them. He explained it this way: John 14: 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will  give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The  world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for  he lives with you and will be in you. 

Did you hear that last sentence? “He lives within you and will be in you!” He wasn’t talking  to the clergy, the rabbis, or the theologians. He was talking to the women (some who had money),  fishermen and tax collectors, and people who had been healed! He was saying: In YOU – is your  teacher – the Spirit of Truth – The Holy Spirit, if you prefer! You are responsible to this TEACHER  who is within you!!  

What he didn’t say was HOW to do that! A little later, John (or one of his followers) tackled  that matter in the text we just heard. In that text, I believe John was saying: When the love of God  abides in you, it is the same as God (as Holy Spirit) abiding in you! I John 3:24.  

Your first job in this new arrangement is to learn to abide in God who lives within you. In other  words, you individually are responsible for exploring, understanding, and nurturing that inner life with  the Spirit – with God. And, the way to learn how to do that is to learn to abide (live deeply) with this  teacher of yours! 

So, like Jesus did, you must get intimately acquainted with your Inner Teacher, the Holy Spirit  so you can respond with confidence to what you hear from God yourself! No easy task, but you’re up  for it! You were created for it! How?

How does a newborn and then a toddler get accustomed to this new life of his or hers? She  hangs out 24/7 with her parents and she does it for years and years in order to learn the way things  are done in this new universe of hers! She has to learn a new language and for a long time she can’t  seem to get it done! She has to learn a whole set of appropriate behaviors (some essential to life and  some totally silly, but it’s how it’s done in that house).  

The text this morning says, you have to listen and learn from your inner teacher to figure out for  yourself the ways of God.  

● 3:16 He says startlingly enough, start with being willing to lay down your life for one another!  You want to know the heart-beat of God? Give yourself to the Beloved Community! This is a  tough first step, isn’t it? They don’t bother putting THIS John 3:16 on posters at the ball game,  do they? 

● 3:17 Be responsive to the needs of those around you! (it doesn’t say anything about them  being church members or even attenders!  

● 3:18 Be active lovers. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk! It’s “love in action” that matters. 

● 3:20-21 Be sensitive to those inner checks from the Holy Spirit. Learn to listen to that Holy  Spirit, the Inner Teacher – so that you hear those inner prompts when you start to go in the  wrong direction. 

● 3:22-23 Pay keen attention to those basic instructions (commandments) that we have all  received from God. God’s people need to act, as best as they can, like God’s people.  

In other words, like a toddler who is being trained effectively by his/her parents, start by imitating  what you see your parents doing! You, too, as followers of God, need to snuggle up to your Teacher,  love the God within you, listen carefully, and then go out to act like you heard your teacher instruct  you to act. 

I can almost hear people saying: “I don’t know how to hear the voice of my inner teacher! I  don’t hear anything!” Just remember how it was when you were very young. You tried your best to  say little phrases by imitating your parents and you weren’t able to do that very well for a while, were  you? It does take years of practice and many blunders along the way, but you’ll get it if you keep at it.  Nobody said living like a Christ-one was going to be easy! 

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE FROM 1 John 3:16-24 

3:16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for  one another. 

3:17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in  need and yet refuses help? 

3:18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 

3:19 And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 3:20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

3:21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 

3:22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what  pleases him. 

3:23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and  love one another, just as he has commanded us. 

3:24 All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that  he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

Pastor Don Crist