Sermon for January 14, 2018: “A.F.D.- Attention Faith Disorder”

E2 2018 Sermon “Attention Faith Disorder”

Readings:

1 Samuel 3:1-10

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

John 1: 43-51

We have short attention spans.
It seems like we start to do one thing (INTERRUPTION 1)
Where was I? Oh yes, attention spans. (INTERRUPTION 2)
Where was I? Look to acolyte? (Wake up)
Look to assistant (headphones)
Really?!
Okay, time to get a little more serious.
But I think we have all been there.
We are talking, with people out and about, and they have their mind elsewhere.
Or rather than looking at you, they are looking at a screen.
Its rude. Unfriendly.
Now my question to you is this: How often do we cut our attention span with God?
How many times do we start then stop when it comes to listening to God?
The reality is we do not pay attention to God.
We put our hearts and mind on other things.
Money, politics, technology, toys, power, just to name a few.
It’s a condition that I like to call:
Attention Faith Disorder
But today I want to tell you some Good News.

The Good News is God still pays attention to us and continues to work to fix our AFD.

This morning we have 3 different ways God does that.
The three ways are:
• Psst
• something I like to call the “Well Hello There!”
• The Call Out

First the Psst.
Our first bible reading comes from the book 1 Samuel,
As the book opens, the word of the Lord was rare in those days.
What that means is that the people, especially the prophet Eli, believed that the Lord had stopped talking to them.
It’s like the feeling you get when you call someone, asking them to call, and they never respond.
Or you send a text to someone, and because of technology you can tell if that someone read your text, and they still won’t answer you!
It’s frustrating and heartbreaking.
And when it happens we tend to ask ourselves, “What did I do wrong?”
Well in the case of the people in 1 Samuel,
The problem was not that God wasn’t talking, it was that the people were not listening.
By that I mean they weren’t obeying God’s commandments and doing their own thing.
And the main culprits in our story are Eli and his sons.
Eli was a church leader, and his sons were leaders who disrespected God’s place.
They made a mockery of church.
And so God does something about it.
But rather than giving up out of frustration, God goes another direction.
And he calls on a child. Samuel.
It takes Samuel three times to realize that it’s God who is calling him in the middle of the night.
But when he does realize it’s God, Samuel responds!
“Speak, for your SERVANT is listening!”
Samuel responds by listening and doing.
Though young, Samuel takes the job God has called him too.
This is a powerful response for anyone, no less a child!
So let me ask you this:
Have you ever had that feeling that God was calling you?
Maybe it was in the middle of the night,
Maybe it was during a drive
Or in a quiet moment,
You just felt like there was another voice in your head,
Calling you to a task
Or easing your mind right before you take a test, or a job interview, or facing a difficult meeting

God’s call can come to us unexpectedly.
And it can come to us in the most unexpected places and people.

That leads to my next point:
The “well hello there!”
And this is the story we read from John, the first chapter.
The first chapter of John covers a lot of ground.
Four days.
The first day John appears.
The second, John witnesses to Jesus as the Lamb of God.
The third day, Jesus invites his first two disciples, Andrew and Simon, to come and see where he is going.
And our story today is set on the fourth day.
It begins with Jesus finding Philip.
Philip becomes a disciple.
And Philip does was a disciple is supposed to do.
He goes and recruits.
Philip goes and tells Nathanael. “We have found The One.”
And Nathanael’s response? “Pffft. Yeah, right.”
It’s the same reaction I have had when people say things like:
“Oh, Jesus helped us find that parking spot at the mall on Christmas Eve!”
My mom did remind me that my dad would argue that God absolutely helped him find parking places!
Or
“God certainly wanted our team to win the national championship”
It’s the “Really? You think so?”
And that’s what Nathanael does.
He says
“Really? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Which was a slam against Jesus and his hometown.
Nazareth was a small secluded village.
Not many people gave it much thought.
The town was an afterthought, a blip on the screen of life in the eyes of Nathanael.
But Philip responds with the best answer.
Come and see.
See for yourself.
Which is a perfect way for you to invite friends to church.
Come and see for yourself.

And what Nathanael sees when he meets Jesus blows his mind.
The first thing Jesus does is compliment Nathanael.
Or as I call it, the friendly “Well Hello There!”
Jesus acts like he’s known Nathanael all his life.
But here’s the thing, God DOES know us all our lives.
Jesus says Nathanael is an honest man who does not worship other gods.
And that compliment is enough for Nathanael to give Jesus his full attention.
Nathanael called Jesus: Rabbi, Son of God, and King of Israel.
Pretty heavy stuff!
So now think back to a time when someone you least expected showed you the presence of God.
Maybe in something they said to you,
Maybe they asked how YOUR day was going,
Or they told you how they got through a difficult period in their life.
Or they tell you a great joke that gets you out of a bad mood
That is God saying, “Well hello there!” to you
But there is a third way I want to talk about as well.
While God can call us into something, like he does with is Samuel and Nathanael,
God can also call us OUT when we need to shape up.

That is what God does in our story from Corinthians.
This is what I call “The Call Out”
The Corinthians were going down a bad road.
They were not paying attention to God (echoes of the story of Eli and his sons)
They were paying attention to themselves.
They were doing immoral things.
They were doing stupid things.
They were doing things that would not be listed on any Christian Recruitment flyers, I’ll tell you that.
And Paul is calling them out on it.
Paul, the writer of Corinthians, tries and tries over and over to move the Corinthians away from an attitude of “It’s all about me” to a focus on what it means to be faithful to the gospel.
Here’s Paul’s point to the Corinthians and to us:
YOU (point to the congregation, to individuals) were bought with a price.
God did not get us on sale.
God paid the full price.
And that price was Jesus.
Whenever we wander from God,
Whenever our attention starts to wane,
we need not look any further than the Cross to set us back to reality.
Think of a time in your life when you needed to hear someone tell you to shape up.
When someone called you out for your sins, your mistakes and your need for repentance.
In my life I have met church people who have kept notebooks on all the things people have done to them.
Let me warn you in case you are one of those people: if you ever show me your list or book, I am going to ask you one thing: “Where is the book containing your sins?”

Talk about the ultimate attention getter.

But sometimes that is what we need to kickstart our faith.
And get us back on the right road.

I don’t know about you, but I am so glad we have a God who works so hard to cure of us our Attention Faith Disorder.

And from our lessons we know of at least three ways God does this:
The Psst
The Calling Out and
The Well Hello There

Each way shows us that God isn’t done with any of us.
God has not stopped calling us.
God is reaching out to us.

It’s time we answer, “Lord, you have our attention!”

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