Reverend Vivian Comissiong Preaches the FOUR Most Important Words in History: “THY WILL BE DONE”!
Submitted by David Comissiong
(A sermon delivered at the Hawthorne Methodist church in Christ Church, Barbados on Sunday 30th September 2001– exactly 22 days after the conclusion of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, and 19 days after the 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States)
From the Gospel for today that was read— Matthew Chapter 7 and verse 21:-
The words of Jesus Christ— “Not everyone who says to me Lord Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the Will of my father who is in Heaven”
When as a young man I was appointed to work in Guyana, I was made the Superintendent of the Circuit on the east coast. It contained nine churches and five Methodist schools scattered over a very wide area. And in that area we had no proper roads, no proper water supply, no proper lighting — no lighting at all — no telephones, and no transportation for the Minister.
So the Superintendent had to get around to some places on the train, on buses, on taxis, and on foot.I had on my staff one worker — he was not a Minister, he was a Circuit Agent. And of course, being young and vigorous, I didn’t realize how foolish it was to undertake such a task.
I had one man who helped me– he was called a Circuit Agent. He was a very affable man. Not a young man by any means. And he was always talking about the grand things he wanted to do for the work of God. Some of his ideas were excellent, and I would say to him– “Well brother, go ahead, go ahead and I will back you up”.
But he was always to begin, but never beginning! And after a while I realized he was a good man, but he was a man of words and no action. Words and no action!
And here in our text Jesus Christ is warning us about being such a person– just being a follower who can speak beautiful things , but who could not translate them into action.
Of course, to say “Lord Lord”, as compared to doing the Will of God is a very easy thing. But– you know– it is not the test of our discipleship! Because, in the life of a follower of Christ, words must lead on to actions. As we say in the end of our booklet– we go from praise and prayer to service.
And I want to put it to you this morning that this is one of the areas of weakness in the witness of our church. That often there is a gap — and sometimes a very wide gap– between what we profess on one hand, and what we do, on the other hand. It is easier to say “Lord Lord” than to do the Will of our father in Heaven.
Here we are this morning, engaged in this act of worship, and it is necessary and essential that we do so. The scripture enjoins upon us that we should not neglect the assembling of ourselves together. There are some people who say that you needn’t come to worship to be a follower of Christ. But no, that is not the Word that comes to us. You remember what the Psalmist said — “I was glad when you said unto me, let us go unto the house of the Lord”. And we should therefore find joy in coming to church to worship God, to praise and glorify Him, and commit ourselves once more to his loving service.
But Jesus— you remember — called his people to be witnesses! “You shall be my witnesses…. you shall witness for me.” And he said, in Jerusalem and Judea, in Samaria, and then in the uttermost parts of the world. A witness that begins at home and moves out gradually, further and further, into the world.
“You are to be my witnesses”.
And so we are called to be witnesses for Christ. And the call, first of all, is to be witnesses in our personal lives. And we have to confess that very often we fall down there.
We are called to witness in the life of our home– to witness in the life of our home.Sometimes we find it difficult to do that, but that is where we have to begin.
And to witness in the life of the Church. You are to witness right here you know — in this Hawthorne Methodist church !
Are there quarrels, divisions, strife among members of the body of Christ? Brother or sister not speaking to each other? How do we welcome and receive friends who come to join with us in the act of worship? Is this house of God a place where people can find healing and spiritual blessings, and joy and salvation? Do we strive to make it a very good loving, caring, spiritual home?
And then — I was speaking to the young people — those who are still at college of school or university — you are called to witness there. What witness as Christian boys and girls — young people– do you set in your school life? Do you set a real good example to your fellow pupils of Christian living, Christian discipleship? Do they see the beauty of Jesus in you– in the class-room, on the playing field, in conversation? That is where you have to witness for Christ.
And the grown-ups — we are called to witness in the place where we work. What is the quality of your work? What is the quality of the relationship with our fellow workers, and those who employ us? What are the standards that we set in the places where we work,that people can see in us and in what we do and say the mind of Jesus Christ.Do we witness for Christ in the places where we work?
And then in our social life; in the organizations of which we are members — whether they be for sport or otherwise. As we interact with people do they see a difference in us, in our words and actions?
There is a member of one of our churches whom I received into membership, and in her testimony she told me this– that she was brought into closer fellowship with Christ and into the fellowship of the Church because of the witness of a member of the Church who was a worker with her in the same establishment. You see, that member was witnessing through her work, and as she interacted with her fellow workers.
And those Christians who occupy positions of authority and responsibility in our national life, in our communities, in the life of our nation– who are in the limelight and to whom people look up to. Do the people see in Christian folk who occupy those high places what it really means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? These great men who are members of Churches, and you see them in the churches — especially at funerals — do they bear witness for Jesus Christ in those positions?
You know– recently, brethren– our Church has been speaking a lot about evangelism. And– you know– a lot of our people, when they think of evangelism, they think of special services with a special preacher — a dynamic preacher — a big choir, exciting singing — choruses — and a grand appeal in the height of the emotion — people being asked to dedicate or re-dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ.
And they say that is evangelism! But, you know, that is only one of the methods of evangelism. There are many methods. The use of the television, the use of the radio, the use of the printed word, and so on. All of these are methods of evangelism. The witness of a church in a community is a means of evangelism !
And we are all called to be evangelists: to show forth the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. All of us are evangelists in the true sense of the word. We are all called to share in this work of being ambassadors for Christ. Not just the few — all of us.
And, you know, it remains a fact — that in spite of all the modern technology that we have for evangelism — it remains a fact that the best method of evangelism is by personal contact. Person to person evangelism!
When you go back to the history of the early church, ask yourself the question — “what method did they have?” They didn’t have all the modern technology. No! They depended almost entirely on personal evangelism — preaching the Word, teaching the Word, and doing the Will of God! Translating that Word into action! Expressing God’s Will, and expressing God’s Will in love.
The driving force, the power of the early church that made disciples, that made people witnesses, was the power of the love of God enshrined in their hearts and manifested in their lives. That was the driving force! The love that they had for God and their fellow man — the fulfilment of God’s commandment.
And you know what that commandment is quite well. You repeated it today brethren. It is that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength! And that you should love your neighbor as yourself! Jesus Christ said this is the greatest — there is no other commandment beyond this. To love God and your neighbor as you love yourself.
The sin of man lies in the fact of his disobedience to the Will of God, which is the fulfilment of the commandments of God. This is where the sin of the world — the sin of mankind — lies.We have not been obedient to God. We have not allowed His commandments to guide us in our lives.
And– you know — a lot of the suffering that has come upon humanity — not through the natural causes that we call “acts of god”– but a lot of the suffering that has come upon humanity has come through Man himself. Through how he has related to his fellow man, and through his disobedience to God’s Will to love.
The other day, a conference on racism was held in South Africa. And it was to be a great and a good thing because when we have problems — you know — no good is served by putting them under the carpet — you have to bring them out and face them and work through them, and come to a conclusion. If you have a dispute with a brother or a sister, you don’t settle it by turning away. You have to confront it, and work through it with that brother or sister, and overcome it. And racism is one of the terrible evils of our world.
There is the problem of colour discrimination. Its been with us for almost the history of humanity. And –you know — we talk as though colour makes a difference. And it doesn’t !
The people in Afghanistan who cry — the mothers who cry when they are holding up their babies who are starving to death for lack of food, and they can’t feed them anymore. The tears they shed — those tears are the same colour as the tears we shed; or the people in America or Europe, or the people anywhere else in the world. There are not any green tears or blue tears or yellow tears ! When you cut me and you cut a European the blood is the same colour. It ain’t no difference! The same feelings that those people have are the same feelings that we have.
What the people in the United States are feeling today is what countless thousands of people have felt in lands that have suffered through warfare and strife and hunger and starvation. Now, you know it when you see it, but sometimes it happens and we don’t see the pictures, we don’t see the suffering, so we don’t feel that suffering. But it is the same suffering!
We have the problem of Man’s hatred of his fellow man. You see it in Ireland. What causes the Irish — who are of the same stock — to fight each other all these years? That a man would take a pistol — in cold blood — and go and shoot a man who is driving on the road with his wife in a car? Can you imagine the hatred that would cause that? You could not have that hatred; I couldn’t have it –because we are in Christ. But people have it, and that is a problem. And there are all the other problems we have in the world of Man’s lust and brutality.
Ah ! Man’s greed! Man’s thirst for power! When he gets into a position of power in nations or among the people he says — “I will kill; I will destroy; I am great; and I am better than you!” Ah!
But when we suffer : when we all suffer — you know — we realize that we are the same human beings. We are the same human beings.
Nations and peoples and individuals must come in lowliness and humility and bow before the God of love, and accept His Will– “Not my Will but thine ” — to love Him with all out heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself.
You know, the Methodist Church has a motto — I wonder how many of us Methodists know that motto or remember it. It says — “The love of Christ constrains us”. The love of Christ constrains us. And that is what the world needs!
The greatest problem that confronts mankind is not racism or prejudice or whatever. These are all great problems which we have to tackle and overcome, but the greatest problem that faces humanity lies in the fact that Man does not love his fellow man ! And all the evils that come out of that.
We do not love each other — nations and peoples. And there isn’t going to be any peace or justice or true freedom in this world until nations and peoples will come in lowliness and humility and accept the Will of God.
“Thy Will be done!” No greater words than these can fall from human lips — no greater words than these words that rent the silence of Gethsemane to save the world from sin. Until we can say– “THY WILL BE DONE” — wherein lies our hope?
And so, we should make this the burden of our prayer :– that God may grant that nations and peoples would come to that place where we all in lowliness and humility can say “Thy Will be done!”
Let us pray:-
“As we, oh Lord, go out from this act of worship, may we go out determined — by your strength and help– to do and suffer your most holy Will. To love you our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength; to love our neighbour as ourselves through Jesus Christ our Lord”.