May 22, 2016
Acts 2:14a, 22-36
“The Right Path”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon is today’s Second Lesson from Acts 2. It is the conclusion of Peter’s great sermon on the Day of Pentecost.
My dear friends,
Allegory. From Greek allēgoreo meaning “to speak figuratively.” A modern day definition of allegory would be “the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths…about human existence.” And so, with that being said.
A deer, a squirrel, a bird and a worm all met at the edge of a great forest. Gathering together, they considered the great task ahead of them – to somehow travel through the vastness. “Well,” said the deer, “I will walk through the forest and since we are going to the opposite side I will see you there.” But as he walked, the deer became distracted by the vastness of the forest and steadily grew more anxious at the possibility of hunters nearby. The deer wandered this way and that and never did reach the other side. At the edge of the forest, the squirrel had said, “I will leap from branch to branch and I will get to where we are all going. I will see you there.” But as he leaped from branch to branch and tree to tree, he was easily disoriented. Not being careful about where he was going or where he had been, the squirrel mistimed a jump, landed on his head and never reached the other side. At the edge of the forest, the worm had said, “I will tunnel underneath all of the others and surely I will reach the other side without any problems. I will see you all there.” But the worm had no idea how enormous the forest was. He tunneled and tunneled and tunneled, but never did reach the other side. The bird watched the other three creatures depart wanting ever so badly for the other animals to join him, but knew that they would not be able to follow him. Deer, squirrels and worms cannot fly as a bird can. The bird trying calling out to the other animals, but they other did not hear or chose to ignore the bird’s pleas. It was trying and difficult and had more than a few scary moments, but the bird DID arrive at the other side of the great forest and he lived happily ever after. The end.
Now, I didn’t tell you that allegory to make you sad (poor little critters!), but I told you that story today – Trinity Sunday – to make you think. I want you to think through a significant truth. I cannot make you believe what you believe. It’s not up to a pastor or a priest or a rabbi or an imam or a monk to tell you what to believe. As a Pastor I can only provide you with the tools and knowledge – to equip you – to make an informed decision, but ultimately you will have decide either in an ultimate truth or not in an ultimate truth.
What I mean by that is that you will have decide what is true and what isn’t true. Now, I recognize the popular opinion of this pluralistic, post-modern age in which all truth is subjective; whatever is “true” is true to you but not maybe “true” to somebody else. Additionally, sentimentality drives the mindset and popular opinion that everyone is going to heaven no matter what. We all believe in the same God, just different versions of Him. Bbbzzz! Wrong answer…thanks for playing. Don Pardo, what do we have for the contestant?
Contrary to popular belief, we are NOT all headed to the same place. Not every path is the right path leading to the other side; not every path leads to heaven. Maybe you’ve figured out the allegory by now. The great forest is life and in life we all start at the same place. All people at one point or another are exposed to spiritual teachings: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or whatever. Very few deviate from that path and into the forest they go. But not everyone will emerge on the other side. In Christianity there is no room for pluralism or subjectivity; you either believe, teach, confess, fear, love, trust, worship and serve the Triune God or you don’t. Our Triune God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – are written of in human history, presented as supreme and as unique bearers of absolute truth who create, sustain, and save humanity through the life, death, and resurrection of God the Son Jesus Christ.
And, of course, your response might be “well, how do we know we’re right? How do WE know WE’RE on the right path? Maybe it’s the Muslims who are right and we’re wrong.” Let’s see, how did I phrase that earlier? Bbbzzz! How do we know truth? Glad you asked. “Then Pilate said to (Jesus), “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38 ESV). Amazing. 2000 years have gone by, and the same question is out there. What is truth? Know why that’s so hard to answer? Sin! Sin clouds our minds and confuses eternal issues and distorts the truth. Who has truth?
We do, my friends, we do and when you have the truth it changes you! In Acts 2, today’s lesson, Peter stood up and boldly confessed “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36 ESV). The true Christian Church, since its birth at Pentecost, has confessed a Triune God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This is a chief article of the Christian faith; the cornerstone upon which we stand and will not fall as true.
The Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is the right path. The Triune God is the true path. The Triune God is the only path. You either believe that or not. The deer, squirrels and worms of this world will end up where they do. We want them to be saved as does God (1 Timothy 2:4), but we cannot force them to believe any more than I can force you to believe, teach, and confess the Triune God as the only way. And why do I do that? Because I have faith (Hebrews 11:1). I believe. Do you?
As you ponder that, I leave you with the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV).
Happy flying everyone. Amen.