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Do not fear, only believe (Sermon July 1, 2012)

Scripture: Mark 5:21-43

How willing are you to dream? How far will you go to achieve your dreams?  Today we are sitting in this place in air-conditioned comfort, under the illumination of electric light bulbs, hearing the amplified voice of a person, while staring at an image projected onto a screen. We are living in the world that a few generations ago were the scientific fantasies of the curious minds. We sit here in comfort many of us probably have failed to even recognize what people went through to provide such luxuries. In history and science class we probably have all heard of a man Thomas Edison, hailed as the father of electricity but we may not be so familiar with the name of the man that really made our contemporary life possible, a man named Nikola Tesla.

Tesla was born in the Austrian Empire near the turn of the century. His father was a Serbian Orthodox priest; his mother was the daughter of a priest. Nikola was a boy with a different dream. His lived a troubled life, his brother died when he was only five, and while in university he had a nervous breakdown. During this time he cut ties with his family and friends, many thought he drown in a river, yet eventually his father convinced him to again pursue his dreams in the realm of electricity. Shortly after this his father died and Nikola left school and sought employment at the National Telephone Company in Budapest. While working here he created a device that many believe was the first loud speaker.

This work caught the attentions of others in the field of electronics, and soon Tesla found himself employed by the Continental Edison Company in Paris, France. It is here started the work that began to reshape our world, as he developed the induction motor and began to manipulate magnetic fields. He was in Paris for only 2 years before he began working for the famed Thomas Edison in New York. Where shortly he entered into what history records as the current wars. It is Tesla not Edison that has reshaped our lives that made our lifestyles possible. He dreamed of a world that ran on electricity, a world filled with light in darkness. He pursued a dream; it took him from a small town in what we now call Croatia to New York City halfway around the world. A dream that changed the world making way for our amplified speakers, air conditioning, and the information age.

How willing are you to dream? How far will you go to achieve your dreams? Our imagination, hopes, dreams, and ambitions are often where we can be most in touch with the image of God with in us. Yet often these are the areas most perverted by the world and where we have the greatest emotional wounds.

Dreams, imaginations, hopes, and ambitions are probably not the ideas that first come to your mind when you read these verses of scripture. Most of us look at the two very remarkable healings and get caught up in the awesomeness of Christ. The interesting thing about Jesus is that almost every major action that He took had some commitment from those around Him. One exception to this may be the exorcism of the man earlier in this chapter. In most cases the individual needing the healing or the loved ones around them eagerly sought out Jesus to perform a miracle. In many of those cases Jesus leaves them by saying it is your faith that healed you or saved you. God works with us, it is not because He has to but because He wants to. The relationship to him is more important than the miracle, and to be honest we do not often see miracles of this magnitude because our relationships with God is so strong we do not need the miracle to encourage a deeper relationship.

Jesus came for one purpose, to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near. Sometimes we twist the Gospel, saying that Jesus only came to save us from our sins, but this is a perversion of the Gospel. Jesus came to change the world we live in now as well as for ages to come. Last week Jesus got on a boat heading to the other side of the sea, He went on that random trip for one purpose to meet with the man possessed by a legion of demons and to set him free. If you were to read about that in the first half of this chapter you would see that this man wanted to join Jesus in His ministry. That man had another purpose though. He was to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God into the area known as Decapolis the most concentrated Greek settlement in Palestine. Shortly after this meeting Jesus and the disciples ventured back to the Galilean side of the sea to again preach the Gospel.

Here He meets with a man. This man had probably heard Jesus’ sermons on the mountains and as a leader in the synagogue he knew that Jesus spoke with authority beyond that that he possessed. This man lived for God that is why He was in the position that he was in. His daughter fell sick and he was crushed. We may miss the importance of this if you forget to consider the ideas of ambition, dreams, and imagination. His daughter was twelve years old. For us today a twelve year old is not that big of deal, but in the Hebrew culture it is the age when a girl becomes a woman in the eyes of the law and culture. Boys have to wait till they are thirteen but we all know girls grow up faster than boys. So this man’s daughter is on the brink of womanhood, her dreams and ambitions are just about to be realized. Her dad is excited for her, because He is beginning to see the woman God created her to be. These dreams were suddenly coming to a halt because an illness has left her near death. I am sure as a father he has done everything that he could do to release the grip of death from his daughter’s life but it is beyond his control. I am sure as a leader in the religious community he has sought the ear of God in the house of worship to heal his daughter, but as of yet there is no relief. He questions his own life, is he righteous enough, does he love her enough, did he commit some offense that he was unaware of. In his weakness and desperation he seeks the one person that may offer hope his ambition and dreams he lays at the feet of Jesus.

There is another in the story, the woman that has been ill as long as the man’s daughter has been alive. This woman has done everything she could possibly do to gain relief yet nothing has worked. We do not know much about this woman. We do not know her age, her marital status, or her name but we do know what her issue was she had a hemorrhage for twelve years. We know this because probably for one reason because a hemorrhage makes a woman unclean. She was untouchable; if she was married her husband was not able to show basic forms of affection because to touch her would keep him from being able to worship in the community. I would probably venture to say that this woman lost every hope and dream she possibly had. Her illness probably leads to divorce and bareness. She may never have had the pleasure of motherhood; she may have lost every hope of love in her life. She probably spent her entire dowry, the wealth of a woman the wealth meant to ensure her wellbeing was spent trying in vain to make her clean again. She was rejected by her human community, and as far as she could see rejected by God. Yet this wounded soul still held out hope for healing, still hoped and dreamed that she could know the fullness of life and for that reason she sought Jesus.

Two people whose hopes and dreams stolen from them by the randomness of life, but these two people would not let these circumstances keep them from continuing to reach. These two people looked everywhere for a chance they were looking for a chance to hope to dream. Everyone around them was trying to keep them from hoping, trying to keep their dreams from rising. The woman was kept on the fringes of the society to such a point that her only hope was to potentially have a chance just to touch the fringes of the Rabbi’s clothing. These fringes were the tassels on kosher clothing that represented the connection between the physical and spiritual world. The wires connecting God to man and man to God, if she were only able to hack into the connection this Man had with God then maybe the hopes of a family may return. If only Jairus could get the teacher to come and touch his daughter then she could live out her dreams.

In each case the hope was nearly lost. Both people were griped with fear, but what were they afraid of? They were afraid of the same things we are afraid of, that they will dream and hope in things that will not come to pass. That their dreams would be dashed by circumstance, that their hopes would be misplaced, that their imagination would be perverted from honorable things. They were afraid of emotional pain, failure, and loss. What if they love and the love dies, what if they try and they fail, what if they pursue and the world laughs at them? We dream to a point and then we let our dreams slip through our fingers like sand.

The crowds came to the man and told him to stop bothering the teacher, that all hope was lost. The world cannot let us dream it cannot allow us to hope because if we have hope, if we pursue our dreams no matter what the outcome, it convicts them because they have given up too. Jesus knew how fragile the situation was. This man had one hope, the world tried to rip the hope out from under him, they laughed and jeered, but Jesus says “Do not be afraid, only believe.”

“Do not be afraid, only believe.” Have you heard any more encouraging words than that? How willing are you to dream? How far will you go to achieve your dreams? Tesla I presented as a hero to achievement, but he died a broken man. Some would say crazy. He died broken because the world around him perverted his dreams; they stole his imagination and drove him mad. He died with the world believing that he was crazy, yet we each use his inventions every single day. How willing are we to dream? Are we willing to face the world we live and stand firm in the face of ridicule for what we believe to be honorable and true? Jesus and his disciples, the restored man of Decapolis, and all the saints of old lived and died for the hope and dream of the Kingdom of God. They believed and live the reality that God’s influence could and would fill the world. They were not people that lived and died for rules of religion, but they pursued the God that loved them into a friendship with their Lord, King, Savior, and God.  Do not be afraid, only believe. We are a people loving God, embracing the Holy Spirit, and Living Christ’s love with others. Let us also be a people willing to dream, and encouraging others to pursue the life God has created in and for them if they only have the chance to see their dream through. The Kingdom of God is near. It is here in our community and spread throughout the world. It starts in the lives of those that believe it spreads by those who live a life free from the bondages of the world of broken dreams. We can change the world we live in if we are not afraid and only believe that God can do what do what He started in each of our lives, He can heal the broken and bring hope to the hopeless. If we are not afraid, and believe.

About jwquaker

I’m sure everyone wants to know who I am…well if you are viewing this page you do. I’m Jared Warner and I am a pastor or minister recorded in the Evangelical Friends Church Mid America Yearly Meeting. To give a short introduction to the EFC-MA, it is a group of evangelical minded Friends in the Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. We are also a part of the larger group called Evangelical Friends International, which as the name implies is an international group of Evangelical Friends. For many outside of the Friends or Quaker traditions you may ask what a recorded minister is: the short answer is that I have demistrated gifts of ministry that our Yearly Meeting has recorded in their minutes. To translate this into other terms I am an ordained pastor, but as Friends we believe that God ordaines and mankind can only record what God has already done. More about myself: I have a degree in crop science from Fort Hays State University, and a masters degree in Christian ministry from Friends University. Both of these universities are in Kansas. I lived most of my life in Kansas on a farm in the north central area, some may say the north west. I currently live and minister in the Kansas City, MO area and am a pastor in a programed Friends Meeting called Willow Creek Friends Church.


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