November 12, 2017 – Veteran’s Sunday / 23rd Sunday After Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Romans 14:1 – 12
Grace and peace to you as you share the Love of God with others, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Rom. 13:8) This could be called the theme verse of the book of Romans that we have been studying during this Pentecost season. The Apostle Paul has had a lot to say about God’s love for us and our love for others in the book of Romans. In the last few chapters the Apostle Paul has moved from God’s love given to us by His grace to how we are to show God’s love to others through our thoughts, words and deeds. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because He has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (Jn 3:16-18) Jesus also says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (Jn 13: 34)
God’s love is far greater than we will ever be able to understand here on this earth and yet God asks us to share His love with other. So, the question has to be asked, “How are you sharing the love of God given to you?” And because this is Veteran’s Sunday, where we give thanks to all the veterans for all that they have given to us by their time, talents and service. We need to ask ourselves, “How have we shared God’s love with those who have given their time, talents and lives to serve in the Armed services?”
My Grandmother Litherland often told my sisters, by brother and me when we were arguing about something, “If you intend to share some thing with someone else you need to first listen and learn what is needed and then you can share it.” “Listen,” she would say, “what they are telling you, so that you can learn what their needs are and then you’ll be able to share with them.” Now I’m not so sure we understood what she want us to do at that time in our lives because we were looking out for ourselves instead of the interest of others but it stuck with me after the many times that she enforced it and made us stop and listen to each other before we could go on playing. She would tell us, “God wants you to listen twice as much. That’s why He gave you two ears and only one mouth so that you can listen and learn how to communicate with others so you can share whatever you want with them.” This is the advice that the Apostle Paul is telling us to use in sharing the love of God instead of forming false assumptions, judgments and arguments with one another.
The Apostle Paul after telling us in chapter 13 to love one another goes on in the begin of chapter 14 with a comment about how to share the Love of God with one another, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Rom. 14:1) Martin Luther in his small catechism stating the 8th commandments and gives His explanation of it by writing, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. What does this mean: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.”
Listening is the first step in begins the process of not bearing false witness against your neighbor and learning how to share the love of God with them. Listening first means learning about the experience that someone else has gone through before sharing what you want them to know or have. Charles Anderson, Glenda, my wife’s Grandfather was a unique Veteran in that He served in both World War I and World War II. In World War I, he drove a truck with supplies for the Army Air core, which meant picking up supplies from the coast of France and taking those supplies to the Air bases closer to the front. In World War II he was a supply sergeant for the military assigned to the middle east and one of his jobs was to get needed supplies to the Russians and other forces fighting against Germans in the western front from their base in Kuwait. I always enjoyed listening to Grandpa Anderson as he talked about the experiences that he had in serving in both World Wars and the other things that he did in his life because it helped me to understand him and his ways of looking at thing in this life which gave me ways of sharing the love of God with him. Oh, Charles Andersons understanding of life was quite different from mine but his need for the love of God was still the same and as I listened I learned how to share the love of God that was first given to me with him.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Rom. 14:4) The Apostle Paul here is reminding us all why it is so important to share the love of God with our neighbor instead of condemning them for a different opinion. We all have different opinions and they may be based on the truth as we see it but you can’t share them with anyone until you listen and learn why they have a difference of understanding. You see we all have the same master, though some people don’t acknowledge God as their master or acknowledge that His Word is the truth. As you spend the time listening to the Veterans of the Armed Services you are going to find that they may have a different view of life than you might have and that is because they have experienced things in their life that you may never experience. Their experiences have molded their understanding of life in this world and if you want to share part of your life or understand with them you have to listen first to learn about their experiences so that you can relate with them what you want to truly share with them, God’s love given to you.
Here’s an example, Charles Anderson serving in World War I tells about getting to ride in the bi planes of that war. You see as he delivered the parts for fixing the planes to the mechanics he would get to know them and they would ask him if he wanted to take a ride with the pilot, because it was a requirement for each mechanic to ride in the plane with the pilot on the test flight after any major repair was done. Yet most of the mechanic didn’t like flying in the bi planes but Charles Anderson found it exciting so he got to take several flights over the country side of France. Now a friend of mine who served in Vietnam during the war had a different view of flying, especially in helicopters. You see he got to fly over much of Vietnam and Cambodia during his time in the war as a soldier in the Army. Most of those flights weren’t all that exciting because they meant that you were going to be dropped off where there was going to be fighting and death all around you. Now Grandpa Anderson who served in World War I and II and my friend who served in the Vietnam War had quiet different view of military transport and their different views had a different effect on their lives yet they both had the same need for the love of God in their lives. The Apostle Paul but this same concept this way, ‘For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.  Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;  for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”’ (Rom 14:7 – 11)
Oh, most of us who have never served in any combat situation will not completely understand the view that a Veteran of a war has on life and death, but we all have the same need and that is the truth of God’s love for us and the knowledge of the salvation given to us by the life, death and resurrection of God’s Only Son, Jesus Christ. Being a Veteran of the Armed services gives you a unique perspective on life and death that many of us who have never experience what they have experienced will ever understand unless you first listen and learn about their lives so that we can share the Love of God with them in a way that they can relate to.
The Apostle Paul reminds us, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (that is the things that we do in this world) but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.” (Rom. 14:17 -19) God created us to live in this world at this time and place to share the love, peace and joy that He has won and given to us. It is that God given love that each of us need but if we truly want to share it with someone else we first need to listen to him or her first, so that we can learn how to relate to them so that we can share the love of God given to us with them. Now this isn’t easy by any means in a world filled with sin, doubt and hatred. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote the 14th chapter of Romans for us to read. Yet the Love of God was given to us so that we can live in God’s love, peace and joy now and for all eternity. God has but us in this place and situation so that we can share the Love of God with one another. Listen and learn about your brothers and sisters in God, don’t judge or condemn them, so that you can share and teach the love of God to them and live with them in the love, peace and joy of God now and for all eternity. Amen.