Sometimes We Act
As If We Don't Know
Matthew 21:23-32

Okay. Who spilled something sticky on the kitchen floor and didn't wipe it up? And the four kids look at you with blank faces and say, one by one, "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know." Or else they all agree it was the neighbor's dog, and then YOU know that they know, and you pick the weakest one to get the information out of.

It's true; sometimes we DON'T know the answer. Like, who was the Vice President to the 23rd President of the United States? (Levi P. Morton, under Benjamin Harrison - 1889-1893/ Grover Cleveland actually won the popular vote by a 100,000 votes, but lost in the Electoral College. By the way, Grover Cleveland won in 1892 and became President in Jan of 1893).

Sometimes it's a riddle: What's black and white and read all over? A newspaper. Or what's black and white and black and white and black and white and black and white and black and white? A nun rolling down a hill.

Or using just two individual words, how do you say 1:58 to 2:02? Two to two to two two.

Sometimes what we know is only what we THINK we know. We believe what someone has told us, and then it turns out to have been false.

Then there is the matter of faith. We know where Jesus was born; we know he also was called "Emmanuel" - God with us; we know his mother was Mary; we know he was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist; we know he healed the sick; we know he told good stories about life and showed us how to meet the challenges of life and overcome them instead of being overwhelmed by them; we know he taught us how to overcome evil by doing good; and we know he loved us and was willing to die for us so that in spite of all our shortcomings and failures, in spite of our failure to love others as he loved us; in spite of our choosing which of the Ten Commandments to obey and which to ignore or pay little attention to; in spite of his telling us to care for each other, to care for all of God's creation; in spite of our failure because we let people, nations, children in Africa starve without caring or doing anything or enough or we turn our backs on the situation; in spite of our letting children die of diseases that are easily cured; in spite of all our failures we know he loved us and was willing to die for us so that if we truly repent and ask God to forgive us, we know we are forgiven AND we know that he OVERCAME death, rose from the dead, and promised that we would also overcome death because he did, that our spiritual self would not die but have eternal life after this earthly life; and he promised to come and take us to be with him; and we know he said we would not be alone until his return to come and get us, that we would have the Holy Spirit with us and in us to comfort and strengthen and guide us. (And we know that that was probably one of the longest run on sentences you've heard in a while.)

We KNOW all this about Jesus, but even beyond what we know factually, we KNOW in our hearts because we are in a relationship with him; he may physically be gone from out sight, but he is not dead by any means and lives on in all the things we do that he told us to do. He said we would do even greater things than he did because we have the power house of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working through us.

We KNOW all this, and yet, sometimes we act as if we DON'T know this. We act as if it is all just a bunch of facts, devoid of excitement and energy and life. "Oh yes, isn't that nice." And when we hear it over and over as just a bunch of facts, well, "ho hum."

But where's the fire and spirit and excitement? I see how excited you get when you know you've come into or won some money. I see how excited you get when someone tells you they love you. I see how excited you get when you buy something new that isn't a necessity. I see how excited you get when you have a new birth in your family.

But in spite of all we know that Jesus did for us-in spite of how much we know he loved us-in spite of how we know death and the devil have no power over us because of Jesus-in spite of how we know that this life on earth is not the end, that we have the promise of eternal life in joy and happiness where there is no sadness or tears-in spite of ALL THAT, we live our lives as if we DIDN'T know that because so many of us don't share any of our faith with others; so many of us go days and days, maybe weeks, maybe even months without telling anyone about our faith or about how wonderful Jesus is and what a powerful affect he has had on our lives.

Remember the statistic I shared with you last year that on the average Lutherans invite a friend or neighbor to worship once in very 28 years! I'd say that a statistic like that shows that we act as if we DIDN'T know that Jesus is our Savior-loves us now and always will.

Day after day we know God shows us just how much we are loved. We know the power of God in our lives and the lives of others. We see it working in the acts of compassion of others; we see the power of God through prayer. And yet we act like we don't know any of that. We act like those folks in the Gospel lesson today-even after they saw signs and miracles and wonders and heard the truth straight from Jesus' mouth, they didn't believe.

And do you know that one sure sign of acting as if you didn't know all this about God the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, of acting as if we didn't know that everything we have-everything-belongs to and comes from God-one sure sign is how people hold back from God. They hold back in sharing their faith. They hold back from God by not volunteering in God's church, just sit back and hope they are not asked personally even though they are shown over and over how the use of their talents and gifts are needed in God's church. They hold back from God in not buying food each week to share with the hungry. That basket in the Narthex should be overflowing every single week. People hold back from God in sharing their treasure-the offering plates should be overflowing every week, week after week, and if someone misses worship one week they should put in double the next week. A sure sign of acting as if we didn't know. And what a pity, because each one of us might be the only example of God's love in action that some people might ever see. We are the Bible they will read because of who we say we are-Christians, followers of Jesus.

But where's the excitement about your faith? We act as if we are poor. I haven't seen the budget constructed by the Stewardship Board for 2006. But I'll bet it's just like that of so many Christian churches-constructed in an attitude of lack rather than vision. The churches that are thriving are the ones that act as if they KNOW. Are the ones EXCITED about their faith and what they know.

Remember in my sermon about the "Prayer of Jabez" I said we needed to attempt something so big that it was sure to fail-unless God were part of it. We took the first step in calling an associate pastor. But we must continue with a heart and mind focused on a vision of God's generosity to us and part of every vision we create for God's church and mission and outreach in Christ's name.

Our actions must be generous and visionary; we must act as if we DO know God is with us-because we DO KNOW. We are loved, we have been chosen to do the Lord's work-what an incredible honor-and we are supported, we are not alone, we have been saved. So ACT LIKE IT!! ACT LIKE YOU KNOW.

Just as God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has been, is and will be generous with each of us-let us be generous in our response to God-generous with our voices, with our actions, with our sharing, with our volun-teering, with our money, with our love.

So, are you excited? (Yes!) Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Well, you've got the voice part. I guess I'll know for sure about the other when I see your excitement in your actions and acting like you KNOW. I'll see it in the offering plates; I'll see it in your volunteering; I'll see it in your eagerness to learn as you attend Bible Studies and Christian Education classes and attendance in Sunday Church School. I'll know for sure if you're acting as if you KNOW. (Sing: I"ve Got Joy, Joy, Joy….I've got the Love of Jesus…)


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