Speaking the Truth in Love – a Sermon on Mark 12:28-34 and Ruth 1:1-18 (Year B, Ordinary 31).
- Although the man is wise – Jesus thinks so – I find him smug.
- He says Jesus is right, but really he’s saying “we’re both right – aren’t we clever?”
- Jesus says he is “not far from the Kingdom of God”:
- Might expect Jesus to say The Teacher of the Law had ‘arrived’.
- Maybe speaking the truth wasn’t enough – not spoken in love.
- Contrast this with the words of my wife:
- I had made some flippant comment about something on the TV;
- She said “You can be a bit of an oaf sometimes” – how can you say that, just because it’s true?
- What I hope she really meant was “don’t be an oaf, because I love you, and I know that you can be better than that. You are worthy of my love and I am worthy of having a husband who is not an oaf.”
- Naomi has taught her daughters-in-law about God.
- The women spend more time together – work/social convention. [Muslim story]
- She has no special knowledge of God but uses personal contact and example.
- They have been together for a long time – a lot more ‘face time’ in those days.
- Notice the contrast between the physical and the spiritual harvest.
- They (and we) are used to good and bad times being defined by the harvest (work).
- Naomi planted the spiritual seed in the good times and now harvests in the bad.
- Orpah does not remain true when tested, but Ruth does. Doesn’t God do the same?
- Ruth ‘walked the walk’ AND ‘talked the talk.’
Meaning for Today
- Today we face a difficult spiritual harvest.
- Times are good in this country and people don’t seem to feel the need of God:
- Some think that they can appease God by the superstition of religious ritual.
- Some think that they can ignore God; he is distant, impersonal.
- Some think that they can put God in a box, based on their theology.
- However, the Bible tells us the truth about God:
- Is personal, he is alive and wants to know us – all of us.
- Wants us to know Him, this knowing not academic/theological, but personal.
- God loves us, but He is Holy and those who reject Him are doomed.
- We will not get through to non-Christians by just proclaiming the truth.
- The teacher of the law did that – did you warm to him? I didn’t!
- People need to get to know God through us outside of a church.
- We need non-Christian friends and we need to invest in them and believe in them for their sake, and because we value them for themselves.
- Person of Jesus attractive; devotion to Him more attractive and reliable than knowledge.
- Our challenge is to be disciples, to ‘speak the truth in love’, and ‘walk the talk’. Integrity, consistency.