This is the second sermon in a series on Vocation. It is also the next installment of the Narrative Lectionary text that takes us to Deuteronomy 5 and 6. This sermon explores how the Law and Promise provide the Key in which to play out God’s vocation in our everyday lives.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Deuteronomy 5:1-21; 6:4-8 and Mark 12:28-31
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This is the second sermon in our series on vocation. Last week Pastor Mark taught us how everyone has a calling from God.
That’s what vocation means.
Today I thought we could start with something fun. I’d like to teach you a song. Pastor Mark and Jonathan have agreed to come up and teach this song to us. Let’s welcome them up.
OK, guys. Are you ready. And a-one and a-two (they play terribly)
Whoa, whoa. Hold on guys. Yikes. Why don’t we try that again. And a-one and a-two… (they play terribly again)
Cut, cut. Stop! You know that I respect you both as fabulous musicians, right? But, well, I’m just going to name it. That was awful. It went so much better in rehearsal. I can’t even tell what song you’re playing.
Pastor Mark, why don’t you play what you played for us. (he plays) Oh, can you all recognize that song? Yes. Jesus Loves Me. That sounded good.
OK, Jonathan. Why don’t you play what you were playing. (he plays) Hmm. That sounds like Jesus loves me, too. And it sounded really good.
What do you think went wrong, everybody? (let them tell you that they are playing in a different key)
Oh, they’re in a different key. Pastor Mark, what key are you playing in? The key of C. Jonathan, what key are you playing in? the key of D flat.
Why don’t you guys pick a key and then play it again. (they play it and it sound really good)
Let’s give these guys a big hand and thank them for helping us with this song.
Here’s the point.
People can only play a song together when they play in the same key.
When we think about vocation, it is the same thing.
Please read this statement out loud with me.
Vocation is not about WHAT you do, but about HOW and WHY you do what you do.
Do you remember the story Pastor Mark told us last week about the panel of professionals who were asked to talk about their vocation?
The Doctor said, my calling is to be a Christian and I live that out as a doctor.
As we go through this sermon, I want you to think about WHAT you do as you go through your daily routine.
We go to work or school. We go shopping. We’re at the gym, the soccer field, the restaurant, the library, a concert.
God’s calling is present in all of these things.
There are two basic keys in which we can live our lives.
We can play in the key of ME, or in the Key of G (you know, God).
When we try to play them together, they clash.
I believe that the key of God’s calling is
God’s love for your neighbor.
[ADVANCE] That is the heart of the Law and what we learn from our texts today.
We need to connect to the story that we are telling in the Narrative Lectionary.
Previously on the Narrative Lectionary…
Let’s go back and frame the text.
This chart may be familiar to some of you if you have taken my Bible A-Z class or done the Bible Mania videos online. This tells the story of what happened between our text from last week when Moses received his calling from God and the text today.
Moses led the people out of slavery in Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea and went down into the desert to Mt. Sinai. There they received the Ten Commandments, the Law, and built the tabernacle. Then they went up to move into the Promised Land, but they didn’t believe God could defeat the Canaanites, so that generation had to wander around the wilderness for 40 years, grumbling and eating manna and quail.
Then Moses gives them these words. This is one of the most important passages to the Jewish Faith. It is called the Shema, because the first word is Shema, which means “Hear, or Listen.”
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, The Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Keep these words in your heart.
This is the key. This is what defines you.
Then he tells them to teach it to their children in every aspect of their daily lives.
The words to which Moses is referring is the Ten Commandments.
When I teach the Ten Commandments to Catechism students, I typically break it out like this. The first tablet is commands about loving God, you know,
don’t make idols,
Don’t misuse God’s name,
Keep the Sabbath so you can go to church.
Then the rest of the commandments are about loving your neighbor
Honor your parents
Jesus summed up the Law this way, right.
But here’s something that I’ve been learning in the past couple years.
You can’t separate Loving God from Loving your neighbor.
Loving Your Neighbor is Loving God, because the heart of the Law, they very heart of God, and thus the Key of our calling
Is the Love of Neighbor.
Let me show you what I mean by going through the first four commands, that we typically think are about loving God, and show how they are for
I want to talk about them according to how the Hebrew people number the ten words, because, honestly, I think it is the best numbering system.
Notice how I changed the title from the Ten Commandments to The Ten Words of Law and Promise. That is what the Hebrew word actually means. These are not rules to check off, these are the Key of G in which to live life.
Number 1: God identifying God’s self.
I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of Egypt.
The starting places for the Ten Words is for the people to remember what God has done for them.
[ADVANCE] God is what God does, and God LOVES and RESCUES. Theologians like to say that God is pure action, and God’s action is the loving process of creating a good and trustworthy world through us.
Even God doesn’t play in the Key of Me.
Here’s the thing: God has set you free from sin and death through Jesus. Jesus died and rose from the dead to conquer sin. You have been set free SO THAT you can love your neighbor. That is the Key of G.
Number 2: Don’t make any idols.
Back then, people imagined the gods to be in the form of animals and they built statues and bowed down to them.
[ADVANCE] Here’s the thing. God is not an object to be loved. God is the action of loving, so go do it.
An idol is anything that you fear, love, or trust the most. We worship the stock market, our jobs, our status, our success.
That is the Key of Me.
But here’s the scary part. We also create idols in the church. We created doctrinal statements or forms of worship and then we say “this is God” and worship the thing.
We can get so focused on our religious idols that stop doing church in the key of God’s calling.
Number 3: Do not misuse the Lord’s name.
[ADVANCE] Don’t misrepresent God by making religion anything other than loving your neighbor.
When we do religious things in the Key of Me, we are misusing the Name of God.
Religion isn’t about creating a place where I am in and you are out.
We are called to love the neighbor, the Key of G.
Number 4 is to remember the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy.
Many times we think the Sabbath is all about going to church to worship God. But notice why they were to keep the sabbath.
The Key of Me says, I deserve to rest, but you must serve me.
The Sabbath made sure that everyone can rest—
and the animals.
[ADVANCE] In the Key of God’s calling EVERYONE is equal and deserves to rest.
Numbers five through ten give more concrete categories to name HOW to love your neighbor.
You will honor your elders,
you will not murder,
Let’s make this really practical.
Everyday you go through your regular routines. You go to work, you go to school, you go grocery shopping.
In every moment God is calling you to live in the Key of G, not the Key of Me.
Let’s take for instance:
Let’s say you are standing in line at the grocery store. The guy in front of you drops a $20.00 bill on the floor and doesn’t notice. Nobody else sees it.
The command says don’t steal. So, of course you would never reach in his pocket and take the money. That would obviously be stealing.
The Key of Me would say. Put your foot on the bill. Slide it over. Bend down to tie your shoe, and viola, you are $20.00 richer.
What does the Key of G say?
Your driving to work and trying to merge onto the freeway. The guy next to you won’t let you in.
What does the Key of Me say? Probably a bunch of words I shouldn’t repeat.
In your heart, you have murdered that guy.
What does the Key of G say?
The message today is simple, yet incredibly difficult.
Remember this. God loves you. God has set you free from your own selfishness, sin, and death, so that you can love your neighbor.
As you go about your everyday life, like we’ll see in Carla’s video in a few minutes. How can you love even the smallest neighbor in all that you do?
Will you live in the Key Me, or in the Key of G?