Year A Epiphany 2 John 1B
I've Got a Strong Case of the "Can't Help Its"
"Been so busy praising my Jesus,
Been so busy working for the Kingdom,
Been so busy serving my Master
Ain't got time to die.
If I don't praise him,
If I don't serve him,
The rocks gonna cry out
Glory and honor, glory and honor
Ain't got time to die."
In this inspiring and wonderful spiritual, the composer is underscoring and celebrating the joy and excitement of being a Christian, the joy and excitement of serving our Lord in gratitude for what he has done for us. The point that this spiritual is trying to drive home to us with great enthusiasm is that when we really become Christians, when we really commit our lives to Christ; then, we can't sit still. We become so excited, so thrilled, so grateful for our new life in Christ that we can't help but love Him, praise Him, serve Him, and share Him with others.
This is precisely what happened to Andrew. He found the Messiah, he encountered Jesus – and he was so excited he couldn't sit still. Immediately, gratefully, excitedly, he ran to share the good news with his brother Simon. It reads like this in the first chapter of John's Gospel:
"(Andrew) first found his brother, Simon and said to him: ‘We have found the Messiah'" Then Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus. This was the greatness of Andrew. He was the man who was always introducing others to Jesus. Three different times in the Bible, Andrew comes to center stage and each time he is bringing someone to meet Jesus.
Here in John 1, he brings his brother Simon Peter. In John 6, Andrew brings to Jesus the boy with the five loaves and two fish. And in John 12, we find Andrew bringing to Jesus the enquiring Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus and visit with Him. Andrew's greatest joy was sharing the good news of Christ and bringing others into the presence of Christ. Having found Jesus, he could not sit still, he could not help it. He had to share Christ with others.
A minister friend of mine tells about a woman in his church who is so excited to be a Christian. She has a shady past and had pretty much hit bottom when a friend reached out to her and brought her to church. The church member welcomed her warmly and loved her into the circle of their love and God's love. She started going to church faithfully. She joined a wonderful Sunday School class. She began studying the Bible daily. She started praying regularly and in the process was converted. She realized for the very first time in her life that God loved her, even her! She came to understand that even though she had done all those sordid things in her earlier life, that God still loved her, forgave her, accepted her, valued her, treasured her. She was absolutely bowled over by that "Amazing Grace" and she committed herself to Christ heart and soul. Recently she said to her minister, "I'm so excited to be a Christian, that I've got a strong case of the "can't help its."
This is also true of Andrew. He, too, had a strong case of the "can't help its." He was so grateful, so thrilled, so excited about Christ that he just could not sit still. He could not keep Jesus to himself. You know, as I think about this and as I think about my own personal life and spiritual pilgrimage, I can tell you that I also have a strong case of the "can't help its." It goes with being a Christian. Let me show you what I mean by speaking out of my own personal life with three thoughts. Try these on for size with me and I'm sure that you will think of others out of your own personal and spiritual life, but for now, let me share these three with you. Because we are Christians...
- We Can't Help But Be Grateful.
- We Can't Help But Be Confident.
- We Can't Help But Be Loving.
St. Andrew Christians
Even in the most barren desert you can find an oasis or two.
In the wasteland of television you can find an oasis of decency and compassion. Take the commercials sponsored by the "Foundation for a Better Life." Here is lifted up such radically righteous behavior as, oh, some young kid giving up his bus seat to an elderly woman, or, more shockingly, a taller man kindly reaching up to grab an out-of-reach package for someone who is vertically challenged.
How sad that such ordinary human activities now rate their own TV commercial because they are perceived as so uncommon and extraordinary. Even more telling and tragic is that such images move our hearts and souls, as though they were truly exceptional events.
We parade the pedestrian. We applaud what should be ordinary. We are so acclimated to badness that to entertain an expectation of decency and the occasion of excellence is almost beyond our belief. It is far easier to believe that everyone lies, that everyone is evil, than to open ourselves to the possibility that someone might genuinely be offering us something good.
And what if that "something" was more than simple politeness or momentary care? What if the "something" being offered to us was a whole new truth, a whole new life, a whole new possibility of being? What if offering that kind of message was our definition of the "right" thing to do?
In today's gospel text we are faced with two examples of someone doing a crazy "right" thing...