I Can’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 28-29; John 17

13 Now I’m coming to you and I say these things while I’m in the world so that they can share completely in my joy. 14 I gave your word to them and the world hated them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. 15 I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. 17 Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 I made myself holy on their behalf so that they also would be made holy in the truth. (John 17:13-19, Common English Bible).

The late Jim Reeves sang these words, “The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” Those words came to my mind as I read today’s John lesson. Jesus said in this lesson, “…the world hated them, because they don’t belong to this world…”

It seems to me we may have gotten upset about something Jesus was telling us to expect! We continue to hear throughout our country that Christians are losing more and more rights. There has been anger over not having prayer before school. There was anger when Christians lost the right to pray before a football game. We have gotten angry when Nativity scenes were forced down from public property, Bibles removed from city halls, and city councils and school boards stopped praying at the beginning of their meetings (I actually prayed at both, on the same night one hour apart in May).

These things have happened at the hands of those who are of this world. They have happened because they don’t have God’s Word. We have God’s Word. This world is not our home. And yes, the world seems to have a hate that grows stronger and stronger as time marches on.

So, why are we upset? We are citizens of another world. Jesus knew what the disciples, disciples both then and throughout history would face. We are the heirs of Roman Emperor Constantine’s moves that made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire, a move many historians point to as the primary action leading to the fall of the Roman Empire.

Throughout world history events occurred where the world has shown its hatred to matters of faith and to people of faith. I am not saying we should be happy about it. But, it should not be unexpected either. It seems to me, what we should be feeling is sorrow for the world that does not know the answer to life’s real question, that meaning and purpose and eternity are found in what we know, that Jesus is the Christ who was born into this world, lived in it, died in it and rose from the dead in it that each of us might have life.

I would challenge you that as the world marches on and demonstrates its hate toward matters of faith and people of faith, instead of responding in anger and hatred, to show the love of Jesus. And, we all need to pray. We need to pray for our children and our grandchildren. For we who are senior adults or are rapidly approaching that status, we have seen what is perhaps the beginning of a more difficult time on its way than what we have experienced. We, at least many of us, will not be here to see it. Our children and grandchildren likely will be. We need to pray now that they stay strong in the faith as even now we see more and more of them walking away from the faith in which they were raised.

Stand firm but stand with a heart filled with love and compassion. Our anger will not return people to God. That will only happen as they see the light and love of God shine through from our hearts.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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