(John 14: 23-29)
My grandson Peder has the makings of a Do-It-Yourselfer, which is a good thing. Early on he’d ask me to go down into our basement/garage where I had my workbench and tools and make something with him. He’d come over for the weekend and want to know what kind of project I had for him to do. When he was younger, I could pretty much find something simple and non-lethal for us to do, but as he got older, his idea of projects out-distanced my skill set. Thank God for YouTube. He loves to go to Home Depot and buy duct tape, tarps and rope. His mother says it’s a wonder he’s not on some FBI watch list. He and one of his friends have decided they want to make bracelets out of rope to sell at school, so he went on YouTube and found a how-to on making these rope bracelets and what you need. He loves the Mercantile in Port Townsend and went there last Saturday and bought his supplies. After watching the tutorial, he began making these rope bracelets which are quite nice. I’m glad he didn’t ask me for help because I still struggle tying a square knot. Peder knows what he wants to do, the idea is in his head, but he sometimes needs a little guidance, and he’s exceeded Gramps’ creative capabilities. My “go-to-guy” days have come and gone.
YouTube is the Holy Spirit for do-it-yourselfers. YouTube gives you the guidance and direction to complete your project successfully. And this is what the Apostle John is talking about in our scripture reading for this morning. Jesus is telling his disciples that he is going away but if they obey his teachings, they’ll be fine. He can probably sense their anxiety, so he tells them not to worry because the Father is sending them a counselor who will teach them all things and remind them of everything he has said to them.
So, put yourself in the disciples’ shoes for a minute. Remember who his disciples were and where they came from. They weren’t pharisees or priests or rabbis or even Levites. They were just common, ordinary men with little or no religious upbringing. About all they had going for them was that they were Jewish. And, because they were followers of Jesus, we can assume they weren’t too impressed with the way the Jewish religious leaders were ministering to God’s people.
Jesus speaks words of reassurance to them by saying; Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. These were confusing times for the disciples as they struggled to grasp all that was happening. The disciples were expecting Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom and overthrow Rome. And, they found it hard to understand why he didn’t tell the world at large that he was the Messiah. They expected Jesus to confront the Pharisees and the Roman authorities and tell them how it was really going to be.
Jesus reminds them of the conversations they had previously had where he told them he would be going away but would, one day, return. He says, if you loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than me. He says that he has told them this beforehand so that when it does happen, they will believe. To these simple, yet devoted and faithful followers, this was a lot to comprehend. Jesus seems to be talking in circles. Why can’t he just come out and say it? Why can’t he just tell us what to do and exactly how it needs to be done? You can just imagine how frustrating and scary it must have seemed to the disciples. We’ve been following you and now you say you’re leaving and can’t tell us when you’ll be back?
Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them remember what he had been teaching them. The disciples were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and teachings, and the Holy Spirit helped them remember without taking away their individual perspectives, which is why we have the various writings of the Apostles. These early followers of Jesus were the pioneers of this new movement bent upon bringing people closer to God, breaking ground and planting churches that would eventually become a worldwide following committed to establishing the kingdom of heaven here on earth. With them it was a process of trial and error to see what worked and didn’t work as they went out into the mission field. In 1 Corinthians 2: 10-14, the Apostle Paul tells us that God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit who searches everything, including the depths of God. He asks, who knows a person’s depths except their own sprit that lives in them? In the same way, no one has known the depths of God except God’s Spirit. Paul tells us that we haven’t received the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit so that we can know the things given to us by God. These are the things we are talking about, Paul says, not with words taught by human wisdom but with words taught by the Spirit, we are interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. He tells us people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way.
I think what the Apostles John and Paul are telling us is that the Holy Spirit can help us in the same way. We now have the benefit of the New Testament where we learn from their trials and errors and, as we study what they did and how they put the words and teachings of Jesus into practice, we can trust the Spirit to plant these same truths in our minds, convincing us of God’s will, and reminding us when we stray from it.
The end result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is deep and lasting peace. Unlike worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict, this peace is confident assurance in any circumstance. With Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future. Sin, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and numerous other forces are at war within us. The peace of God moves into our hearts and lives to restrain these hostile forces and offer comfort in place of conflict. Jesus says he will give us that peace if we are willing to accept it from him. If your life is full of stress, allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ’s peace. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he tells us not to be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of our requests to God in our prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. If we do that, the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep our hearts and minds safe in Jesus Christ.
Jesus loves a follower who has that “Do-It-Yourself” attitude when it comes to spreading the gospel. He loves it when we get creative and He sends the Spirit to us to give us that guidance and courage to try different things in an effort to reach the unreachable. He knows that we will stumble and fall but there is no failure in falling. The failure is in not getting up and trying again. He allows us to make mistakes and knows that we will learn from those mistakes but, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our go-to guy, we can experience the satisfaction of a job well done. So, think about what it is that you want to do in God’s service. What is it that God is laying on your heart? You don’t have to fear failure if you go to the Spirit for help and guidance. You can do this. God will provide you with all the rope, duct tape and tarps you need.
Please pray with me.
Most gracious and loving God, how thankful we are for your gift to us of the Holy Spirit who comes to us when we are stuck, when we are puzzled, when we don’t know which way to turn. We know that, many times in your service, we find ourselves wondering what it is we need to do or where to start. You have sent us the Holy Spirit as a companion and a counselor to guide us, direct us and nudge us in our service to you as we endeavor to be your hands here on earth as we work to make this world a better place for all your children to dwell in peace and harmony. Move us to be a church of do-it-yourselfers led by the Spirit bringing your light and your love to one and all. In Jesus name, we pray, Amen.