Commitment Sunday - The Puzzle of Life

Commitment Sunday - The Puzzle of Life

November 13, 2022 • Rev. Rob Fuquay

(working Rubik’s Cube) Remember when these were popular? I was never very good at solving them. Just when I think I am getting all the colors aligned it starts to get all mixed up again. But there’s something sort of relaxing about working a Rubik’s Cube, if you don’t let yourself get uptight trying to solve it. It’s named, by the way for a Hungarian puzzle master named Erno Rubik. It can be calming just focusing on bringing the different sides into alignment.

In many ways, our series the last few weeks has been like solving a Rubik’s Cube. We’ve looked at the three loves Jesus identifies in the two great commandments, Love God with all your heart, soul, and might; and Love your neighbor as yourself. Love of God, Love of Others and Love of Self are like three dimensions that support life.

And life can be so puzzling. So many things we can’t figure out and may never figure out, but as we focus on keeping these three important loves in balance and alignment, we have something that brings peace and purpose to life. Love Cubed.

Now, if I were really good I would have solved the puzzle right at that moment and we could say a closing prayer, but I’m not that good, and life seldom works that way. Things don’t always come together. The aim is not to figure everything out in life, but to have something that gives us peace and meaning in the problems we face.

So in this series we have focused on doing these three loves. First, to do something everyday to cultivate intimacy with God. I hope you have tried some new things to do this. Susan told me about her Disciple Bible Study group this week. One person led them in a unique prayer experience. She invited everyone to pretend they were throwing a ball to God like a little child…

Then, we were invited each day to do something to serve someone else. The other day I was in the grocery store and noticed a woman who couldn’t reach an item on the shelf. Knowing I need to practice what I preach, though I was in a hurry, I paused and said, “Can I help you?” She said, that would be nice. I can’t reach the top shelf. So I handed her the item. Now what if I had said, “I’m the pastor of a church, and right now I have asked everyone to serve someone else everyday. So I feel the obligation to do this since I’ve asked everyone else. So it was out of nothing but a sheer sense of duty that I did that today, so I could check that off my list.” Would that have ruined the act? Probably so!

Now, here’s the funny thing. We might serve out of that spirit. We won’t say it, but we might do it with a sense of trying to check a list. But after a while, the motivation will change. We will do it, not because of the reward of a responsibility completed, but the feeling we get from doing an act of kindness. We change.

And then lastly, we were to do something good for ourselves each day. And again, I hope you have thought what you can do that is good for you. This has been a personal challenge just because of my schedule lately. But the other morning, when we had the lunar eclipse, Susan and I got up and jumped in the car to get away from all the trees around our house so we could see it. And it was quite a sight. That evening when I got home, it was already dark, and we did the same again, to see a beautiful harvest, what looked like, a super moon. And just those few minutes was like a gift.

Story about grandson Geronimo and picture.

And that’s the point of these three loves. They center us. They help us in this puzzle of life. We learn that life is a gift. It is a grace. And when we learn to receive and give in life, we won’t solve all the problems, but we will find peace and contentment in the puzzle of life.

So for the rest of the message I want to summarize what we have talked about in this series to help us hold onto the importance of these three loves. We started with the

love of self. This is perhaps the hardest for many people because it seems selfish, but loving ourselves in a spiritual way is to appreciate our value and who give us that value.

The Apostle Peter said “You are living stones.” He’s making reference to the temple, the building that where the presence of God dwelt. By calling us living stones Peter says God dwells in us. We are of eternal value.

There’s a story about an American tourist who found a ring in an antique shop in Paris. He bought and years later his insurance company recommended he update his valuable possessions, so they sent an appraiser to his house. Later he received a new insurance estimate and it was significantly increases. He called the agent who went through the appraiser’s list. He said, “Well, it appears one item stands out, an antique ring.”

The man was surprised. He hadn’t paid anywhere close to the value it was given. So he took the ring to another jeweler for appraisal, and this person estimated it even higher. He asked why? The jeweler, somewhat surprised, said, “You don’t know?” The man said he didn’t. The jeweler brough him over to see the ring through his eye glass. Inside of it was an inscription, “To Josephine from Napoleon.” The value of the object was based on its original owner.

Your value is not based on what you do, what you have, or what you are worth to others. Your value comes from your original owner, the God in whose image you are made, the image of love.

And that leads into the second love we emphasized, the love of others. An important statement from the sermon that day was this: We use our value to give value. That’s the importance of our having a sense of value, to help others feel valued. We can’t give what we have not received, but what we have received we are called to share. In our serving of others we impart value to them.

That’s a desire inside all of us. We want to express love to others, and that love is communicated through value.

When our oldest daughter, Julie, was about four she came up to me when I was watching TV or reading something, and said, “Daddy I love you.” And I said, “Thank you. I love you too.” And then she said, “Here, I want you to have this,” and she handed me a $1 bill. I jokingly said, “Is that how much Daddy is worth to you? A whole dollar? You’re cute.” And I put the dollar back in her and returned to what I was doing.

A few minutes later Susan came to me and asked, “What did you say to Julie?” I said, “Nothing, why?” She said, “Well she’s in her room crying.” I was shocked. I replayed what happened, and Susan said, “Do you think she understands the value of currency. It was her only dollar in her piggy bank and she wanted to give it to you.”

In my profession we call that “a miss!” That was a miss. I missed the sacredness of a child’s God-given desire to express love by seeking to give value. That’s the way God made us.

And, said daughter, still seeks to give value to others. She’s an executive with Tesla now, so two years ago, she wanted to show her mother how much she loves her by surprising Susan on her 60th birthday with a new Tesla. (pic) Now who else do you think was smiling just as big? Julie. You see, when we use our value to give value we find that what puts a smile on our face is helping others smile.

And then we concluded the three love last Sunday with the Love of God. And we looked at the Shema in Deuteronomy 6 which Jesus quoted, “You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” We focused on the Hebrew word for love here. Remember what it is?

Ahavah! I pointed out how this word is the combination of three Hebrew letters, aleph, hey and vet. And these are the root of the word hav which means give. In the center of Ahavah is hav. The heart of loving is giving.

Because God’s nature is to love, it is therefore God’s nature to give. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only son…” And Jesus gave his life for the world.

Expressing love for God is to appreciate the value of sacrifice and its hope for the world.

Toward the end of David’s life, he desired to make an offering to God. So he went to a man named Araunah and offered to buy the place where he threshed wheat in order to build an altar over it so he could worship God. Araunah, however, offered to give the property to David, and even more, all of the offerings to make his sacrifice.

Now, how many of us would consider that gesture. You not only are given the property to build the altar but everything you would give in the offering, and you fulfill your duty to God at the same time. Sounds pretty sweet, huh? But look at David’s response, “No, I insist on paying for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24: 24) David knew, when it came to worshipping God, expressing his love for God, he need to sacrifice. That’s what God does for us, and our sacrifices are what God uses to bring hope to the world.

Now think about that site for a moment, the threshing floor of Araunah. It was located on Mt. Moriah, where Abraham was stopped by the angel from sacrificing his son. It is the same place where the temple of Jerusalem was later built. The place where God’s presence dwelt. Jesus would say, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it.” He was talking about his body. His sacrifice would become hope for all people being able to experience and have access to God’s presence.

David could have no way of knowing what would become of the place he purchased, but it would be used later to help others experience God.

And that’s what happens when we sacrifice. When we express our love for God through giving. Life is a gift, and the key to life is learning to receive and share that gift. We are called to enjoy life not solve it. To understand it is a blessing to be received.

Lead into pledge cards and video…