2368) What Will You Believe? (part one of two)

From a sermon on a Confirmation Sunday.


John 14:23a…27– Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching…  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.”


     Confirmands, we have met together every Wednesday for the past two school years; or, for about 60 hours.  During that time, we have been preparing for this day and the promises you will soon make.  Together, we have looked at what God has done for each of you and what that can mean for your life, now and forever. You have listened well and done your work well.  And now, I think you understand a few things about your faith.  I hope so.  Because when you consider the  many influences in your lives, these few hours that we have had together for this Christian education isn’t anything compared to the education that you have received and continue to receive every day as you watch television, go to movies, read magazines, and observe the world around you.  But what you learn from the Bible and what you learn from the culture you live in are two very different things.

     In confirmation we looked at the big questions of life, which is what you would expect.  What one may not expect is that the media, in all its forms, which you are exposed to practically all day every day, also deals with the big questions of life.  Advertising and entertainment is also is teaching you about priorities, morality, values, life, and death.  What you hear and see there is also describing and offering a way of life.  They aren’t just selling their product or entertaining you. They are teaching you about life.  They tell you what is important in life, how to be happy, what you deserve to get out of life, how life is best lived, and what you need to buy if you really want to live the good life.  They want to teach you about life.  They are answering for you some of the same questions we looked at in confirmation; but they give very different answers and are very persuasive.

     Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”  You will hear many teachings, many different ideas on how to live your life.  Who will you listen to?  Who will you obey?  God created the gift of life and he knows how it is best lived.  When we ignore, forget, or disobey that, we miss out on how life is meant to be lived.

     Who are you going to believe?  Which will you live by?  Will you want to understand the world in terms of your faith and strive to live as a follower of Jesus?  Or will you take life as it comes, follow whatever looks good at the time, and ‘just do it,’ as one advertisement teaches.  You will be told many different things.  What will you believe and live by?  Let’s look at some specific examples.

     First of all, you will be told that whatever you have, it is not enough.  No matter how much you make and no matter how much you own, it is not enough to make you happy.  You will never be told what IS enough, or when you can finally BE satisfied.  No, just that WHATEVER you have, it is not enough.  The advertising industry spends tens of billions of dollars a year to tell you that you need more:  more luxuries, more gadgets, more entertainment, more conveniences, and more toys–  more of everything.  You will be told that you need this, you deserve that, you can’t live without this, and you won’t be happy without that.  If you aren’t careful, you will believe all those lies, get caught up on this merry-go-round, and never be content.  Not even millions of dollars a year is enough, as our sports heroes and movie stars prove to us by the unhappy lives of so many of them.

     This discontent has spread throughout our society.  Several surveys have asked people if they were happy with their present income and lifestyle.  A majority of people always say, “Not quite;” and they are all certain that if they could make just a little more money each year, they would then be happy and content.  People making $35,000 a year say that and people making ten times that amount say that.  They were all ‘just about’ happy.  They all need just a little bit more and they will not be truly happy until they get it.

     All those billions of dollars spent on advertising are spent to convince us that Jesus was wrong about the dangers of too much wealth and abundance and possessions.  But Jesus knew how the ever increasing desire for money can rob us of our peace of mind and contentment.  “My peace I give to you,” he said, “But that is not as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  Or in other words, Jesus says, ‘do it my way, or you will be troubled.’  Surveys show that most people don’t believe that, or at least don’t live by that.  Most people believe the ads they see and hear, and are not content with what they have.  Contrast that with the apostle Paul who in Philippians 4:11-13 wrote: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  

     Who will you believe?  What would you rather have; the inner strength, contentment, and peace of mind that Paul had, or, the desperate, constant dissatisfaction that must always struggle to get a little bit more?  (continued…)

Will Rogers quote: What's considered enough money? Just a little ...