The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Father’s Day

June 17, 2018

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Lead by Example!

 

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

As we gather together here in God’s house today it is obvious that we are focusing on the fact that today is Father’s Day.  While Father’s Day may not always get as much attention as Mother’s Day, today is still an important day— especially for those of us who have and/or are Christian fathers and Christian grandfathers.  As a father and as a grandfather we know that we play an important role in the lives of our children and our grandchildren.  While none of us is perfect and while many of us may wish that we could go back in time and do certain things or handle certain situations differently, we strive to do the best we can at any given time— always trusting that we find both the forgiveness and the strength we need right there, at the foot of the cross.  (Pointing to the cross)

 

As I studied our text for today knowing full well that I would be preaching this sermon on Father’s Day, I was thinking about the fact that our God-given role as a Christian father and as a Christian grandfather can be summed up in the word:  leader.  God Himself has designated us to be the leaders both in our own home as well as here in His home, the church.  As that thought marinated in my mind I kept going back to these inspired words of the apostle Paul with the goal of trying to see how these words tie in with the leadership role that our heavenly Father has given to us.  I started asking myself— what does it mean to be a Christian leader, what does it mean to be a Christian father and a Christian grandfather in the year 2018?  Then it dawned on me.  It really doesn’t make any difference whether it is the year 2018 or the year 1018 or the year 18!  Since our heavenly Father expects us to be leaders it is our responsibility to strive (with His help, of course!) to be the best leaders we can be!  How do we strive to reach that goal?  While there are numerous ways to answer that question, today we want to see how God the Holy Spirit answers that question through these words of the apostle Paul.  With that in mind let’s study our text under the theme:  Lead by Example!  There are two points that I hope we all take home with us today— especially those of us who are fathers and grandfathers.  First, leading by example means showing our children and our grandchildren what it means to trust in God’s promises.  Second, leading by example means showing our children and our grandchildren what it means to rejoice in the precious purpose our

God has given to us.

 

Leading by example means showing our children and our grandchildren what it means to trust in God’s powerful promises.  I see that truth in the opening portion of our text.  Paul writes, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

 

The picture that Paul is painting for us here is a picture with which many of you may be very familiar.  The picture is this:  Our journey through this world is like living in a tent.  Every morning we pack up our tent and continue our journey Home to heaven.  Every evening we pitch our tent knowing that we are that much close to being Home.  Packing up our tent each and every morning, making that journey each and every day, pitching our tent each and every evening for sixty, seventy, eighty or ninety-some years is not easy!  There are countless things that cause us to “groan” along the way— whether it is sickness or heartache, weariness of body or weariness of soul.  There are countless days when we simply “long” for the “burdens” of journey to be over so that we can finally go Home to heaven.

 

This is where we as fathers and grandfathers play a very important role by setting an example for our children and our grandchildren.  It is the example of what it means to trust in God’s powerful promises!  Our God has promised us that He will faithfully give us everything we need to make it through the portion of our journey that we call “today.”  (See Matthew 6:25-34)  Our God has promised us that as beautiful and as wondrous as this dying and decaying world is this not “as good as it gets.”  The best is yet to come!  (Revelation 21)  Our God has promised us that no matter how much we suffer here, no matter how many things make our body and/or our soul “groan” the glory that our God has waiting for us in heaven far surpasses it all!  (See Romans 8:18)  Our God has promised us that no matter how we might “feel” we are never alone as we journey through this world!  He is always by our side! (See Matthew 28:20)

 

As Christian fathers and as Christian grandfathers we not only need to make sure that we are personally growing in our understanding of and our appreciation for the promises our God has given to us here in His Word, but we also need to make sure that we are striving with His help (Pointing to the cross) to show our children and our grandchildren what it means to live our life as a Christian in this sinful world, what it means to faithfully and patiently pitch our tent closer and closer to heaven so that they can follow our example.  If we don’t show our children and our grandchildren what it means to trust in God’s powerful promises, if we don’t teach our children and our grandchildren that God’s powerful promises will bring them through and carry them through all the things that make them “groan” as they journey through this world— to whom are we willing to abdicate this leadership role?  Their friends?  Their college professors?  Some TED talk they come across on the internet?  I pray not!  As Christian leaders it is our responsibility to lead by example and show our children and our grandchildren what it means to trust in God’s powerful promises.

 

Fulfilling the leadership role that God has given to us also includes setting the example of what it means to rejoice in the special purpose our God has given to us.  Paul continues in our text, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  Therefore we are always confident that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

 

Continuing the picture of comparing our life to living in a tent as we journey through this world, Paul reminds us that even when the journey seems long, even if we get to the point where we might wonder if it is worth continuing this journey considering all the “groaning” we endure along the way, we have the joy of knowing that we will most certainly receive the “home” that God has waiting for us in heaven, the “eternal house…not built by human hands”!  How do we know this?  Because God Himself has given to us the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, “guaranteeing what is to come”!  When we were brought to faith in Jesus as our Savior— whether that was as an infant through the power of holy Baptism or as an adult through the power of God’s holy Word— we were given God’s own “guarantee” that when we are done pitching our tent here on this earth we will be welcomed into our heavenly Father’s Home!

 

Since it is not always easy to keep that truth before our eyes, since there are so many distractions that the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh use to try and get us to give in, give up and lose what God has waiting for us, we as Christian fathers and Christian grandfathers need to set the example of what it means to rejoice in the special purpose our God has given to us.  What is that special purpose?  An easy way to remember our special purpose is found in Paul’s words, “So we make it our goal to please him.” (Pointing to the cross)

 

We make it our personal goal in life to please Jesus!  Think of how many opportunities we have as fathers and as grandfathers to keep that special purpose in front of our children and our grandchildren.  When they or anyone else ask us why we live our life the way we do, why these priorities are so very important to us and why we consciously avoid those things, we can say, “My goal in life is to please Jesus.”  When we take our children and our grandchildren with us to enjoy the many wonderful blessings this world has to offer, we need to make sure they understand that even these wonderful blessing are only temporary.  Since our true blessings are waiting for us in heaven we make it our goal in life to please Jesus.  (See 1 Corinthians 7:31)

 

At the very same time we can teach our children and our grandchildren that their greatest joy in life comes from the fact that God has given to them the gift of the Holy Spirit “as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”  We can teach them that their greatest confidence in this life does not come from what they can do, but from what Jesus has done for them.  We can teach them that the words “we live by faith, not by sight” not only prevent us from being jealous when we see people who have more material possessions than we have, but those words also protect us when people ridicule us for believing in things such as:  there is only one true living God, both heaven and hell are very real places, both Christmas and Easter are historical events that will have an eternal impact on every single human being.  And perhaps most importantly, as a Christian father and as Christian grandfather we can teach our children by both word and example that one day every single human being will be required to stand before Jesus and “receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.”  We can teach our children and our grandchildren that when the goal of our life is to “please him” (Pointing to the cross), when the goal of our life is to have a life that is filled with the good works that flow from our love for and our thankfulness to Jesus for all that He has done for us, then we never need to be afraid of the day when we are called upon to give to the God of heaven an account of our life here on this earth.

 

Being a Christian in this sinful world is not an easy thing to do.  Likewise, being a Christian leader, being a Christian father and a Christian grandfather in this sinful world is not a walk in the park.  Thankfully we do not walk alone.  Thankfully we not only have a heavenly Father who gives us the perfect example to follow, but we also have a heavenly Father who lovingly helps us and guides us and forgives us along the way.  May our heavenly Father grant that we will indeed strive to fulfill the leadership role that He has given to us as we strive to lead by example.

 

Happy Father’s Day!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen