Sunday, May 13, 2007

Christ Contra Mundum

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Sunday, May 13, 2007
John 16:23-33

I want to tell you about some warriors. People so powerful they take on the world. Not all who occupy this role see it as that, though. Many of them don't see the true significance of who they are and what they do in this role. Often those who do don’t even realize that they are the powerful warriors they are. This is because they don't act like warriors. And no one would normally see them as such because they’re not acting in a way we normally think of as powerful.

So who these powerful warriors? They are mothers. How in the world are they powerful warriors? It’s because they truly are going against the world. That’s what warriors do—they battle; they go against the enemy. This is one thing mothers do as mothers.

But they don’t do it in a way that warriors normally wage war. They do it by simply doing what mothers do—they love their children. But here we really need to be specific and say that Christian mothers are the true warriors. They go against the world by raising children in the world but to not be of the world. Not to take away anything from all mothers. There’s nothing like a mother’s love. But there’s something that a Christian mother gives her children that goes even beyond her own love for children—and that is Christ’s love.

This is how she truly goes against the world. And it’s not easy. It’s not easy pour your love and energy into your children’s life instead of getting caught up in the values of the world, which often don’t prize the nurturing and care of a loving Christian mother. This year the annual value of a full-time mom is estimated at $138,000. I’m sure it would be nice to actually receive that. But a Christian mother goes against the world and doesn’t do what she does because it’s her job—she does it because that’s what God has called her to do and because she wants to love her children with the love of Christ.

Christian mothers don’t appear to be the powerful warriors they are. But who is more influential in a child’s life than their mother? Imagine if all of us Christians begin to see our lives in this way. As being in the world but actually going against it when it comes to why we live and how we live and what is truly important in our lives.

The towering church father Athanasius was a staunch defender of the Christian faith. He was so adamant that it appeared that even if he were the only one who held to the truth he would stand firm. The saying came about “Athanasius contra mundum”—Athanasius against the world.

The importance of this is not that he hated the world. Or that he wanted to see others destroyed. But it was that he would not go the way of the world. He would hold fast to what God had called him to. He would remain steadfast to the truth, not what the world says or thinks is important. This is how Christian mothers are also. And how every one of us Christians should be. In the world, not of it. Against it, in fact.

That’s how Christ is. Christ contra mundum. Christ is against the world, as He says in the Gospel reading: “In Me you have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” This doesn’t mean He hates the world. It doesn’t mean He wants to destroy everyone. John says what we all know so well: For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son to die for it. Christ loves the world. He loves everyone. That’s why He died for everyone.

But there’s something else we need to know about the world. It’s a fallen world. It’s going to bring us down if we get caught up in its pleasures and what it thinks is important. The world can never understand how truly powerful the love is a Christian mother gives her child. Just as the world can never understand how in human flesh God suffers for the sake of the world. There is more power here than the world can ever see because the world doesn’t look beyond this life. It cannot see that Christ came to bring blessings that go beyond this world.

Christ is against the world by loving the world. By coming into it and being a part of it in order to redeem it. Christ contra mundum is actually Christ for the world. It is Christ loving the world so much that He has given His life for the world. He overcomes the world by redeeming it from itself.

You see, it strikes us as odd or even not right that Jesus says that in Him we have peace but in the world we have tribulation. We, along with the world, can’t make sense of peace in the midst of tribulation. But that’s because we try to find our peace in the world. Through worldly pleasures. In getting our due. In the absence of difficulty.

Christ delivers us from all that by going against it. By taking things that are firmly in the world and using them to deliver to us His eternal gifts. With water He takes His Word of life and brings us into heavenly citizenship. With bread and wine He takes His Word of reconciliation and gives us Himself; His body and His blood for us to eat and drink for our salvation and strength.

Christ came into the world to deliver us from the world. In fact, to save us from eternal death. We have peace because of Christ contra mundum—Christ against the world. Because Christ contra mundum is Christ for us! Amen.



Anonymous said...

Great sermon, Paul!

rev.will said...

Thanks Vona! Oh yeah, Happy Belated Mother's Day!