Sermon: September 20, 2015 – Nothing is Lost

Text: John 6: 35-40

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38 for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

I would have to admit to spending a little time on Facebook; I’m sure there may be others who spend a lot more time looking and reading and posting than I do. But even what little I am on Facebook, I have noticed a couple of things that I think are interesting. The first thing is that I hardly ever post anything-I guess my life isn’t that interesting, or else I figure that not everbody needs to know that I’m on my way to the DMV to get a driver’s license or standing in line at Starbucks. I’m amazed at what some people post-I keep thinking about the relative importance of any particular post. Of course there are the photos of the grandchildren and some information about what our own kids have been up to, but there are a lot of posts from the grocery store or some restaurant or traffic jam some place. I don’t want to appear completely heartless, but I don’t really care if you are stuck in traffic or not, it is what it is, so deal with it-you don’t have to put it on Facebook.

I have also noticed that most people only put the highlight reel on Facebook; in other words you might see a picture of a report card with all A’s, or a special performance at the piano recital, or even the declaration that 10 pounds has been lost. To the best of my recollection, I don’t recall ever seeing Facebook posts about how I really lost my temper today and I should apologize to that person. Or maybe the post about how I manipulated things in such a way to get my own way, or maybe there was that little white lie that one time, or I didn’t tip my waitress or waiter as much as I probably should have and I could go on, but you get the idea. I wonder what it would look like if in an alternative universe somewhere there was a Facebook equivalent that was only for the “B” reel. You know, the stuff we would prefer never saw the light of day…wouldn’t that be interesting reading? I might have to confess to spending even more time of that kind of a Facebook – it would make for much more interesting reading.

Interestingly enough, today’s scripture made me think of this. I know what you’re probably thinking about now…”he’s been on the edge for a while now, but he finally went over.”

But I don’t think so. Let me explain.

If we look at the scripture again, there are a couple of things I would like to point out. The first, which is obvious, is that this text comes to us from the Gospel according to John. I know I have said this before, but it is worth repeating, the Gospel of John is 100% metaphor-the entire thing-and that is not just my opinion, it is upheld by many of the world’s greatest theologians. So when Jesus is saying that we will never hunger or thirst again, how are we to interpret that exactly? We know we can’t see a literal interpretation here, so what comes next? Are we talking about a spiritual hunger or a spiritual thirst? I don’t think so, because everyone I know who currently has a powerful and dynamic relationship with Jesus is always hungry for more. They want more knowledge, they want more understanding, and they want more personal experiences of the Divine in their lives. We all want more all the time. So I don’t really think that is an accurate interpretation; although it is a very common one.

So I will ask the question again, what does it mean to never be hungry or thirsty again when we have a relationship with Jesus? I don’t think we are talking about money or material blessings; there are people who walk with Jesus daily that represent both ends of a broad economic spectrum; it can’t be wealth or material possessions. So what else? It’s not spiritual, it’s not material, could it be emotional?

Let me say that again. Could it be emotional?

Now what do I mean by that; to never be emotionally hungry or thirsty again? I can tell you what I don’t mean-I’m not suggesting that we will never feel bad again, I’m not suggesting we won’t ever experience loneliness or heartbreak or frustration ever again-these things are all a part of life and they continue pretty much regardless of your relationship with Jesus. As a matter of fact, I am suggesting that this scripture basically promises us that those things will continue.

You see, I think most people read this portion of the text as a good thing. They read it like those of us who have a relationship with Jesus will somehow be better off than those who do not have such a relationship; and in a way I suppose that is accurate. But the accuracy is not what you think.

Remember when I suggested how interesting it might be if in an alternative universe somewhere there was a Facebook for all the “B” reel stuff? All of the things you would rather not talk about or admit to; all of the things that emotionally you keep hidden behind your back? All of that stuff? I know we all have some.

What if Jesus is that alternative universe I keep talking about and simple prayer is the Facebook?

Could it be that when Jesus said that we will never be hungry or thirsty what he really was saying is that we will never run out of things that qualify for the “B” reel. We will never run out of things that are less than stellar to post on the Jesus Facebook where all of our truth comes to the light of day whether we want it to or not. Maybe, just maybe, never being hungry or thirsty again means we will continue to have lots of material in our lives that isn’t fit for the highlight reel. We are not exactly at our best moment or the top of our game as they say; in other words, we will always have plenty to post on the alternative Facebook. And we post on the alternative Facebook when we pray-and that of course is what makes us better off. We have not escaped the suffering, but at least we have a place to put it and share it and maybe even get a few likes from the community at large.

But that isn’t all the text says. If we look closely at verse 39 it says that Jesus will not lose any of what has been given him. In other words, nothing is lost, so everything is used and everything is important. Can you get your mind around this? It is all useful, it is all good, and when we post to the Jesus Facebook, we don’t have to worry whether or not our post is part of a highlight reel or part of a lesser reel. It is all used and it is all good. Because the good is so good and the bad is so useful.

Can you begin to see that in Jesus? Look who he spent time with; Jesus didn’t exactly hang out with the “A” team all the time, as a matter of fact, Jesus didn’t even hang out with the junior varsity, Jesus hung out with those who had been thrown off the team altogether. Jesus hung out with the outcasts and the ridiculed; he hung with the sick and the lonely and those who had not one good thing to post on Facebook. Why did Jesus spend his time with such people? Was it because he just had bad taste in people? Was it because he was a poor judge of character? I don’t think so.

I think Jesus hung out with those people because nothing is lost. Everything is of value and every person is of value, and what better way to demonstrate that than to validate the outcasts and ridiculed than with his presence and with his compassion?

I think this scripture is also saying that God wants all of us. Sure God will take the highlight reel of the straight A report card and the son or daughter scoring a goal in the soccer game, but God also wants what we have hiding in the closets or our minds right now. God wants the “B” reel and everything that has fallen on the editing room floor. God wants it all because nothing is lost and nothing is wasted. The good is so good and the bad is so useful, God wouldn’t have it any other way.

So we can continue to cherry pick our regular Facebook posts and create this illusion of perfection for all of our friends and family. We all live Pollyanna lives on Facebook with the exception of the occasional traffic jam or flat tire; but the Jesus Facebook is looking for something else. The Jesus Facebook wants it all, the good the bad and the ugly, all of it. And don’t worry, you will never run out, because we are promised that when posting the realities of our lives on the Jesus Facebook, we will never hunger for material and we will never thirst for another post. There will be plenty.

And that is food for thought. Go in peace and go with God.

Amen.

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