5/10/98, E5C

“Everybody Ought To Know”
John 13: 31-35

ears ago Marilyn had the opportunity to attend a seminar with a world famous psychologist that was held at Atlanta’s Medical Arts Auditorium. She drug me along, possibly thinking that I could derive some benefit. Marilyn’s co-counselor had arranged for us to have near the front row seats. I made a point of sitting with the co-counselor’s husband who was a buddy, and a professor of theology at one of our local seminaries, so we could whisper wise cracks during the lecture. After some delay and a very brief introduction of the guy that everybody else knew, the house lights dimmed and spotlight focused on a stool. This real old fellow in a crumpled sweater slowly walked from behind the curtain and sat down to a standing ovation. Finally he closed his eyes and looked toward heaven and the crowd sat down and became silent. I dropped a pin and the lady three rows back shushed me.

After a long silence the guru said in a clear deep voice, "Everything you know, you learned from your mother before you were five years old." There was a collective, "Oooooo!" Like it must really true. We really do not know whether most of what we know is inherited or learned; but, either way we got it from our mothers. We are indelibly stamped by our mothers. If we love, we got it from Mom--- If we hate, we got it from Mom. Most of us are fortunate to have had a mother that loved us more that she loved herself and established deep in our souls the ability to pass such a love on to our children, spouses, friends, and everybody else our paths cross. Of course, our dads were important too, but today is Mother’s Day.

Most of us can say that we had Christian mothers whose love was rooted upon the love of Christ. Many of our mothers received their first introduction to Jesus Christ from our grandmothers, and on back. My daughters are fortunate that their bloodline includes believers from all of their ancestors: The five Allred brothers who immigrated from England in the 1700’s for religious reasons, and the Wisharts who came from Northern Ireland just a generation ago. The Sides, Herrons, Stricklands, and Raulersons, were all believers and still pretty much are when we gather and sing hymns at family reunions.

You would not dare let the believing train stop with you, would you? We all want to hold onto the heritage that has molded. And, at the same time, we want to widen the gate to include everybody else. Indeed, everybody ought to have a chance to know who Jesus is. Our assumed game plan is to fling open the doors and invite the whole world in. We have the duty and privilege to be witnesses for Christ. This Kingdom is not exclusively our little club, but potentially includes everybody everywhere.

I recall a church committee member some years ago complaining in a meeting about so many new people joining his church. "Who are all of these new people," he groused in a whining voice. Then, in the next breath, he remembered Momma, his heritage, and amended his gripe by saying, "Of course that is the real purpose of the church isn’t it?" Although my mother pampered her baby boy Bobby, she taught me back before
I can remember that I am not the center of the universe and that God loves everybody else just as much as he loves me. In fact, a focus of my family was others. Dad was aggressively evangelical and gave his life to winning more and more to his Christ.

One of my summer vacation jobs during college days was selling encyclopedias door to door. It taught me to meet strangers and that without work there is no reward. Nobody ever came out to the street and asked me if they could please buy my books. Sales were made one customer at a time by persistent knocking on doors. Much of what I learned has been directly transferable into my calling as an pastor. Thousands of unsuspecting, unchurched families, inactive Methodists, and other brands, have become active Christians through knocking on doors, phoning, writing, and most recently e-mailing.

Our goal has been to spread the love around by giving as many people as possible the opportunity to "know who Jesus is."

In our text, Jesus gave us "a new commandment," to include all people. "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for the other."(Jn. 13: 35, NRSV). Outsiders can look at us and tell whether or not we reflect the love of Christ. Human beings can better grasp love acted out, than spelled out. You and I, as fruit of the vine, become billboards for Christ, whether we know it or not. Folks evaluate Christianity by what they see in our lives. It’s an awesome burden and joy.

Only John recorded Jesus’ new love commandment in his story about the life of his best friend. John is still called the "Apostle of Love." Oral tradition says that as a very old man living on the Island of Patmos near Greece, he continued to promote love. It is said that the young people loved him and would carry him to worship on a blanket, and as he was carried through the streets he would repeat the words of Jesus in our text, "Love one another, Love one another!"

Can’t you just imagine that everyone in Patmos wanted to become a part of a group that was filled with such love? Would it not still work today in a local congregation if visitors, neighbors and friends could see love lived out within our community of faith? And it happens Sunday after Sunday in this place where "The Folks Are Friendly." The world sees Jesus in you--- here in church and out scattered as the Church.

We celebrate our heritage, but our focus is on extending Jesus’ love to the whole world. Everybody deserves the same opportunity that we have had to get to know who Jesus is! "He’s the Lily of the Valley, He’s the Bright and Morning Star, He’s the Fairest of Ten Thousand, Everybody ought to know..."

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

5/10/98, E5C