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Evan Earwicker: Transforming the Soul, Matthew 16:26

May 31, 2022

Audio Recording

The health of your soul isn’t just a matter of being saved or unsaved. It’s the hinge on which the rest of your life hangs. It’s the difference between deep, satisfied spirituality and a restless, dispassionate faith.

Renovation of the Heart
Renovation of the Heart
Evan Earwicker: Transforming the Soul, Matthew 16:26
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us. I wanna read a scripture outta third, John, as we begin today, we've been in a series talking about, being spiritually formed into the image of Christ, which can sound kind of ethereal and out there. but here's what we're talking about for the past six weeks. We're talking about allowing, the, the way of Jesus, the, the way that Jesus modeled his life and ministry, the way he taught, the way he spoke for that, to be more than something we agree with for it to be something that works itself out in real life, in our relationships, in how we respond in the world, around us, how we, we think of everything. And in third, John, we get this picture of the function of this formation that happens in us.

00:47 And John is praying for his readers. In third, John verse two, he says, beloved, I pray that all may go well with you. And that you may be in good health as it goes well with your soul. So today at the end of this series, as we, we kind of wrap things up over the past few weeks, we wanna talk about the inside life. We've talked about our bodies and the role that that plays and how we are formed into the image of Christ. We talked about our mind. We talked about how we think we talked about our social relationships and our family relationships. And now we wanna talk about the interior life of the soul, because as John was saying that if it's gonna go well for us, if we're gonna be in good health, not just physical health, but, but complete holistic health, it needs to go well on the inside.

01:38 have you ever lost a tire, has a tire blown out on you while you're driving? It can be a scary, event. I know the last time it happened to me, we were driving in a conversion van down the highway in Wyoming, across the state of Wyoming, not a great place to break down. the, the tire exploded on the rear, passenger side of the, the van. And immediately there was no question about it. Something was wrong. It becomes very difficult to stay on the road. You hear the sound of the tire exploding and hitting the side of the, the van. And so, there was never any question of like, well, should we pull over here? I don't or should we we'll just wait, we'll just, this is a 94 Chevy folks. There is no fancy tire system. That's gonna keep us on the road.

02:21 So we pulled over immediately. Now, today when I got up, as it has been for the past two weeks, there was a check engine light on, on my vehicle. It'll probably be on for several more weeks before I get around to doing something about it. The check engine light is different than a tire going because the tire there's just no question. You have to stop the check engine light. It could be anything, you know, it could be a sensor going bad. That doesn't matter. It could be a loose, you know, cap on the, the gas tank who knows it could be something terrible. That's gonna cripple the engine any minute but on the way to church, you know, I'm rolling the dice. We don't know what's gonna happen living on the edge, right? But this idea that there are two sides of us. There's the exterior life.

03:05 And many times our physical health, is that thing where if it goes, it shuts down everything, but you know that there's an interior life. That is actually just as if not more vital than anything else. The engine of our life, that is the soul. And if the soul is unhealthy, unfortunately when the light comes on, it's easier to ignore the issues on the inside. And so today I wanna just share with you in the, in the few moments we have, and by the way, we're gonna, share in communion together. If you're watching online, you might, grab something in bread and, and juice to take with us in a few moments. But this idea that, that the inside the interior world of our emotions and responses and, and the, the part of us that craves purpose in this life and the part of us that prays and, and, and seeks after God, the part of us that has that thirst for God in the first place, that's all on the inside.

04:00 And we would do well, not only to focus on the exterior of our life and the, the parts that we present to the world around us, but we do well to focus on the interior because that is the well from which everything else will flow. I, there's an old episode. It's stupid, but it's an old episode of the Simpsons and Homer, is sitting there and he just says to no one in particular, I would trade my soul for a donut. And of course smoke goes off and there's the devil. And the devil says your soul, you say, and, the episode goes on and he makes this deal with the devil that for a donut, he will trade his soul, but he comes up with the loophole that until he finishes the donut, the deal hasn't been made. And so then it becomes Homer's main goal is to avoid eating the last bit of that donut, because then the deal will be done. And so he puts it in the fridge with the sign that says, soul donut do not eat, does not go well.

05:02 Homer does what I think we do. We undervalue the soul. We overvalue the exterior and maybe Jesus would have a way for us to flip that and really pay attention to the health of our soul. Jesus said it this way, Matthew 16, what good will it be for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? John tells us, as it goes for the soul goes for the rest of us. Jesus said, there's nothing more valuable. There's nothing you could trade for your soul. So we ought protect it. So as we begin today, some warning lights of the soul, some warning lights that maybe your soul needs a moment. Maybe the attention needs to go away from the external things onto the interior. Here's some things that happen in my life. One, I feel anxious considering the, what ifs of the future.

05:52 I'm always in a hurry, even when I'm not. Have you ever responded? How's things going for you? busy has ever, oh yeah. What are you up to? You know, I don't know, but it's busy. I'm sure that's my default state. I'm always in a hurry. I feel discontented. No matter what I experience accumulator achieve, I feel out of control in the ways I respond to stress. This is a good one. My theology lines up perfectly with my preferred political party or podcast. listen to a podcast. That guy says exactly everything that I agree with about Jesus. It's amazing. Maybe, maybe we oughta consider what our theology is saying about the world rounds, not what the world around us tells us about what we think about God. Anyway, even minor doubts caused me to consider abandoning faith altogether experiences that brought me joy before no longer do.

06:42 These are some of the things that, that we should treat like the warning light on the dash that says, you can keep going. You can keep driving this thing like Evan does to church, hoping nothing goes wrong, but you would do better to take a moment and let Jesus do work on the inside of our lives. And here's the outcome of this. when we allow the soul to become healthy, when we take these moments, even coming here today, I know it's a, it's a challenge to get to church. It's a challenge to make this a priority. It's a challenge to, to, make that, that point, even as you're watching online, to sit down and take in. And, I know, if I'm watching online many times, I'm kind of on, in three different devices at once. It's a challenge to stay focused in these moments.

07:27 But when we allow God to begin to do the work on the inside, transformation happens. There's a story in, in John chapter two, it's, Jesus' very first miracle. him and his mother, Mary, they go to a wedding in the village of Kana and because of the bad planet of the wedding planner, I guess they run out of wine long before the wedding is over. And so Mary kind of elbows Jesus, and she says, you know, you need to take care of this. He's like, I don't need to take care of this. This is their problem. I was wondering if Jesus like wa likes the drama. You know, he's just like watching to see all the interactions at this wedding and finally said, okay, I'll help. So he goes to the servants and, he tells them, Hey, there's some basins over here. They're actually religious basins.

08:09 They're not even for drinks, but he is like, tell you what I'm gonna fix the wine problem. Fill these ceremonial basins up with water. The servants probably were confused, but they did it. They fill up these water basins, with water and then Jesus performs his first miracle. And he changes that water famously into wine. And I was thinking about that story. and how odd must have seemed for those servants to solve the problem with Jesus of wine, running out, by filling basins with water, what could possibly help. And yet it's their participation of the instruction of Jesus by obey what he asked them to do in a seemingly odd and inconsequential way that they set a scene for Jesus to perform a miracle. And here's the thing about when we are transformed, the work is done by Jesus, but he invites us into the process.

09:04 And sometimes the way he invites us in is in doing things, little things that seem like that doesn't seem like a big deal that doesn't even seem like it would help. Why, you know, why would I take a, a, a Sabbath a one day out of seven? Why would I take that to rest? Does that really affect the outflow of my life? You know, when I'm, when I'm sitting in church and I, I focus maybe for seven or eight minutes during a sermon, you know, does it matter if I focus for 12 or 13? I don't know. Maybe that's just water in the basin, right? You're thinking eight minutes is a lot for you, buddy. I don't know if I'm gonna give you that much, but you know, these, these little things that seem like, does it really matter when we participate, but what we are doing is we're setting the stage for Jesus to do the work of transformation.

09:50 I like probably many of you, have just been very overwhelmed, and angry this week about, what had happened in Aldi. the terror and the horror of these moments, creates a response. And at the same time that I, that I'm, I'm seeing this on the news and having so many conversations about what's gone on, I'm also studying and looking into scripture and considering this idea of how Jesus forms this. And I can't help, but think that in those conversations that I've had, when I'm feeling grief and anger and, and emotion in those moments, when, you know, there's contention and, and, and political ideologies that clash, and, and, we're trying to, to discuss, you know, the causes and the solutions and no one agrees and, and all this rises up. There's a feeling in me that says, I wish I wish that Jesus would just be here in person to handle this for me. You ever felt that way, like this is, this is too overwhelming. I just wish he could step in.

11:08 And I'm reminded that the truth is that he does, because he sends us into those conversations. He sends us into the mess of real life. And so it is vitally important that we are formed and shaped and molded into the image of Jesus so that we, when we interact and we have to interact Jesus, would've interacted. It is a privilege that we do not have as Christians to withdraw and ignore and pretend like, like the world is not hurting when it is breaking open, Jesus would run into the mess. And when he's there, that's what we want to do. The work of Jesus. And so being formed by him is vitally important, especially when the world is hurting. you know, we don't often address, things in the news, that is just not our practice. many times every week, there's something that, that we feel like we should be outraged or angry about. Have you noticed that it's always something. and so we make a point not to just bring whatever's in the news and talk about it all. But, I think there's something unique about this week and the way that this grief has really gripped our country.

12:27 And so our response and my response is anger. When it's appropriate grief, when it's appropriate, we are told in the Bible to mourn with those who mourn, we are told, also that Jesus Wes, with those who weep and so today as a church, and, and we'll just take a moment and, and, and we'll continue on, but we wanna stay engaged. we don't wanna withdraw from the hurts of the world around us. And this also means that, we call out idolatry. When we see it, the first commandment that we should put no other gods before him. That means every other thing falls beneath the Lordship and the control of Jesus, nothing else is sacred. Like he is sacred, no ideology, no individual, right? Our politics, our guns, our conversations, nothing is in that place that is reserved for God alone. It means that we embody hope for the hopeless.

13:25 And we pray with those who have the power, that they would have the courage. And we do all this, not because we have all the answers or we're always right, or because my opinions are the best opinions we do all this because Jesus has all the hope. And this hope that he gives was not intended only to work in a vacuum where everything is going well. The hope that Jesus left with us and gives to us each day was intended to fill places that are breaking open, like water. The spirit of God, flows to low places, places that are in need of filling. That's what Jesus does. And so I wanna take a moment, and just pray, pray for Texas, pray for these families and pray for us in our response and in every conversation that we would embody the way of Jesus. So Jesus, we invite your holy spirit into this church. We can't control everything that happens in the world. We can't, we can't cause bad things not to happen. We can't get involved in every single thing, but when the conversations happen, when we have an opportunity to express your hope, when we have an opportunity to weep with those who weep, when we have an opportunity to show people, your compassion and your mercy, I pray that we would be up for the task because of the work that your holy spirit does in us.

15:00 I pray that you would form your life in us so that we'd be able to engage in the work of Jesus in your name. We pray. Amen. If you agree with that, just say, amen. Amen. Well, I dunno about you, but, this week has, has reinforced the reality that many times, our souls are burdened. Our souls are weighed down. Our souls are heavy, and the temptation always is to, ignore those issues. But Jesus encountered a lot of folks, that were also burdened and heavy laid in. he said this in John, excuse me, Matthew chapter nine, as he was, ministering and healing among the people it says, as in Jesus, went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing, every type of disease and every affliction. So Jesus is, is doing his work in healing.

15:55 The physical needs of the people, but something happens is he's healing, their physical needs. It says when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. So even as Jesus is, is opening blind eyes and, and, and healing, broken bodies, he's, he's noticing and acknowledging that there is another need on the inside. There is a soul need in the people around him, because there are, are beaten down and broken down and in need, not just a physical healing, but a touch in their souls that he can offer. Jesus recognize the soul needs of the people around him. And I love that his response is not one of judgment. It's not one of anger. He doesn't get mad at them for their unbelief. He's not frustrated that they don't pray enough. Instead he has compassion on them because their souls are hurting.

16:48 Their souls are overworked and it's to these soul star people that Jesus gives an amazing invitation that he actually extends to us today in our busy 21st century, always going perform better, do better kind of world. He offers this invitation, take my yo upon you and learn from me from gentle and humble and heart. And you will find rest for your souls. I can't think of anything more countercultural in our day and age than the society we live in than taking moments of rest for our souls. Cause I believe this, the healthy soul is the soul at rest. The healthy soul is the soul at rest. this is a bit of a strange story, but we have a toilet in the, reception area of the church here. It's in its own bathroom. It's not just a sitting by the front desk. That would be weird.

17:43 well we had the toilet and about a month ago it started to have issues started to back up spectacularly. It's not, not a pleasant thing. And so, we had the plumbers come out and, you know, they have all this fancy gear to, to look down in the pipes and see if there's, breaks or obstructions or what's going on. And, and they couldn't find anything came out several times. And it was, it was, you know, frustrating. I was talking to pastor Ben, this past week and he said, I think we found out what was going on. Actually the, the roots of all these Ponderosa Pines that we have out in our parking lot have been growing underneath these pipes and they haven't broken the pipe, but they've, thrown this pipe out of alignment to now where the, the water can't flow the way it's supposed to.

18:30 And so instead of it doing what it's designed to do, it's backing up and causing all problems. The reason I bring this up is because I couldn't think of a less restful situation than when your toilet's overflowing, you know, have you ever had an overflowing toilet in your house? And you're thinking, you know, I'm gonna deal with that in 20 minutes, I gotta take a nap. I am just, I am beat, of course not. I was, I was about 10 years old. We attended the Nazarene churches growing up and it was, we had Sunday night services, old time church folks. You'll, you'll remember Sunday night services. That's what you did. So we're, we're at the, the service on Sunday night. And, I went in and used the bathroom. I'm sorry if this is too much information, but used the bathroom. And it was right on the outside of the sanctuary, like the hallway that ran around the sanctuary. And then there was these bathrooms. And so I, I used the restroom and, ended up the toilet, started overflowing and I panicked, you know what? I did shut the door and walked back into service. And didn't say a word I'm so sorry to the custodial staff at the Nazarene church, because it, it is, it is, is so, stress-inducing right. There's nothing restful about an overflowing toilet. Here's, here's my whole point. And some of you're thinking, Evan, get to your point, please.

19:53 Sometimes we're out of alignment and we don't know why and the things that that work for so long over time, slowly, slowly roots of, of sin can crowd in our life and begin to, to knock things out of alignment. And we, we, we, we say, why is the interior of my life such a mess? Why is that outflowing into the rest of my life and causing all these issues? And we can't put our finger on it. And the reality is, is that sometimes it takes a deep work of Jesus to bring in the heavy machinery like we had to do here and, and dig out some roots and reset some alignment issues in our hearts. And so today we're gonna take communion together. And, these are really important moments as a church because what we're inviting is the transformative work of Jesus, not just to change what we think about things, but to come in into our hearts and do the, the, the good and important work of excavating and changing and realigning our hearts. And to do this, we have to take the moments to do it in our busy lives. We need rest to take these moments and say, Jesus, do your work

21:10 St. Augustine famously said this. He said, you've made us for yourself. A Lord. And our hearts are restless until they rest in you. So as we take communion in just a moment, we're gonna take it in a restful state. even in these, these moments in, in church, it feels like we're just rushing, rushing, rushing to the next thing. And so we're just gonna take, you know, five minutes and just take a breath and slow down long enough to allow Jesus in these moments and, and through these elements and these symbols of his body and his blood to do work on our hearts. You know, as a, as a parent, I constantly feel like I could do better. I feel like if, if, I was a better parent, maybe my kids would behave better. Let's be honest. I'm just talking about my son. My daughter's wonderful. My son's behavior as a pastor and a preacher. You know, sometimes I think, man, if I'm not, if I'm not engaging enough, they'll get bored and they'll go someplace else. Wouldn't want that to happen. So I feel insecure about that, or I feel insecure as a Christian because I feel like maybe God's actually mad at me. cause I haven't, I haven't been enough or done enough or pleased him.

22:37 And so all those feelings and the list is different for you obviously, but you probably have a list too, of all the things that you feel like. Maybe I could just, if I could just do more, be more, then things would go well. And here's the point of today's message. What's gonna get you to that place of things going well with your soul is these moments. When we come to him and we receive his imitation and we respond with a yes, when he says, take my yo upon you and learn from me, I'm gentle. And you'll find rest for your souls. It's these moments of rest, where we take in his work that we receive health and healing and miracles at the soul level. And so as we take community day, we're gonna rest to acknowledge the limits of our control. I'm not God, thank God he is. And so we're gonna rest knowing that he is in control today. We rest because it is a gift from him to rest.

23:36 What a gift, what a brilliant thing that, that millennia a go, God spoke to a man named Moses and said every seven days, make sure the people take a, take a break. No, no work. Why? Because it's good for their souls. It's good for your souls. What a beautiful gift to rest. And finally we rest because Jesus has finished the work on the cross. It was the last thing he said before he died on the cross. Jesus cried out. It is finished. It is finished. So all that striving, all that performance, all that that needing to do better has been wrapped up in the work of Jesus on the cross. And so today, as we remember it, we receive and rest in his finished works.