February 8, 2017
“Being Built Up”
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
We gather for a purpose, for a reason. We are here not just to bid up time and space, but it is a divine appointment that we are fulfilling. We must constantly be conscious of this rather than living and going through life oblivious of what is taking place as far as our relationship with God is concerned. Many people today are like spiritual zombies without a grasp of what God is doing.
God promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It is a promise that is founded on the living Word. How many of us are really conscious and are aware of this presence that He is within us, amongst us? How many of us really have the Holy Spirit echo the words of the very Godhead, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
In the Morning Office of Prayer, the last line of the “Venite” says, “Today, you would harken to His voice.” Harken means to hear. The Christmas song says, “Hark the herald angels sing!” This means: to hear the announcement. Today, if we would harken to God’s voice, to the cry that God wants us always that we can harken to His voice.
We are already at the point of coming closer and closer to the Season of Lent. We have been looking at the theme every Sunday which begins with two words: built up. Built up from Scriptures implies growth and development. It is made up of two words in the Bible: to put together, which means to build a home. In other words, building up something entails work, being patient and being laborious.
Let us take out the mentality that everything would be easy and a walk in the park. There will be cultivation and a keeping that is necessary when the kingdom of God is being established, so that we can continue to rest in the joy that God has given to us. We do not need to make it oppressive and something that is tedious, but rather, we can take that work to be something that has the joy of the Lord in our lives.
I appreciate the teachings for the past week especially on “Expression” because one thing that we have to restore as we restore all things for Christ is the “tabernacle of David.” When Israel was in the Promised Land, they were bringing the Ark of the Covenant. The tabernacle of David was a tabernacle of praise, of joy, of exuberance that even in the midst of hard work, labor and warfare, there was always that joy.
To be built up entails several things in our lives: prayer; teaching and studying; example and practice (giving of ourselves to others); and sharing with one another. Prayer is important to be built up. Let us ask ourselves about what is the whole purpose that we need to have to be built up. For five Sundays now, the theme has been “Built Up.” Have we asked ourselves why it is important to be built up? Why do we need to be strengthened? Some people exercise, and what is their purpose? To show their abs? For health reasons and longevity of life? Why are we building ourselves?
In the gospel of Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus said, “13“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
There are two metaphors that Jesus used in this gospel. First, “You are the salt of the earth.” If we lose the saltiness, we become tasteless.” The word tasteless literally means dull, boring, no interest, no excitement for the things important to us. Do we see life as boring? As Christians, there should be a non-stop excitement. When we are with the King of kings and the Lord of lords, there should be non-stop excitement. When we see our lives as tasteless and good for nothing, this is the time it becomes dull, uninteresting and unexciting.
In 2 Kings 2:19-22, “19 Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold now, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 He went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.’” 22 So the waters have been purified to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.” For those who study Science, how can you mix Sodium Chloride and mix it DI-hydrogen monoxide and come up with pure water? This defies human understanding. This is who we are – the salt of the earth- as Jesus said. When there are things that are impure, our presence makes it pure. When there is death, our presence gives it life. When there is despair and a feeling of hopelessness, our presence gives hope. When there is the impossible, our presence makes it possible. This is because we are the salt of the earth! Situations will change because of our presence. It will reverse the things that are doomed leading to terminal despair and life will be brought in unless we lose our saltiness.
The second metaphor is, “You are the light of the world.” As the light of the world, we are called to let our light shine. Our basic task as salt and light is to be effective. No matter how nice looking we are as salt and no matter how beautiful the light is, but if it doesn’t give out the saltiness and light, our purpose is not achieved. Our main purpose in life is in Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 which says, “Let your life shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify God.” Our main end is to glorify God. We can lose our saltiness; we can come to a point that our lives are not shining. This is the time we need to build ourselves so that the saltiness in us can continue to be such and the light continues to shine. We need to see this constantly done in our lives.
When we miss out on this, our lives become tasteless. Our lives become dull and boring. Even the most interesting subject becomes dull and boring. Even the most exciting times become dull and boring. Realize that no matter what it is, there is always the excitement because our saltiness continues.
Before we can even cause a change in the world around us, we must first effect the change within us. We are the salt; we are the light. This has an effect on the outside, but we must first effect the change within us. There can be no change in society unless we can have disciples in the sanctuary.
Matthew 5 was not addressed to the crowd. In verse one, it says, “And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.” We need to come to Jesus. It is not going to be automatic. There will be a lot of people, but true disciples come to Him. We defy the obstacles and the hindrances that try to bar us from coming to God. As a disciple, we come to Him. There can be no change out there unless there are disciples in the Church.
A salt crystal will not cause flavor to the food it is added to, unless there is first flavor in the salt itself. A light bulb cannot fill a whole room with light, unless the bulb is first filled with light. The light first comes from the bulb, and then, it becomes effective to lit a room. If we do not see the need for Jesus in our lives in the Church, let us not expect the world to see the need for Jesus in their lives. It begins with us, and so there is a need to build ourselves up. The dullness and the boringness of life are because of our lack of diligence in building ourselves up. When we begin to rise up and defy everything, amidst the crowd, we can come to Jesus as true disciples and sit by His feet.
In Zechariah 14:17, “ And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them.” It starts in the Church. It starts with the worship that we give to Him. It starts with the time we have with God. We sing songs that are so powerful. “As the deer longs and pants for the water, so my soul longs for Thee.” “I want You more than gold and silver, only You can really satisfy. You alone are my joy.” “I was born to praise You, to worship You alone, so I come before Your presence and I bow before Your throne.”
This is who we are. This is how God created us to be. If worship doesn’t begin in the Church, we do not need to wonder why society is such in a situation where there is no water and rain that will give life to the world. It starts with true worship in the Church. True worship and true living and being built up in the life of God begin by being true disciples of Christ.
Building ourselves up comes by prayer. It also comes by teaching and studying. Be a disciple of the Lord. Spend time with Him. 1 Peter 1:22-2:22, “22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. The Word of God was spoken and written down so that we can have it today. This is the cause of the transformation of our lives. When we were baptized and became a Christian, it was because of the Word of God – the seed that was planted. It is incorruptible and it cannot perish. At the end of the reading in the liturgy, the reader says, “The Word of the Lord!” Then we respond by saying, “Thanks be to God!” When the Word of God is being read and spoken, do we listen or do we look at our gadgets? Do we harken to His voice? Where is our focus?
“2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” There are two elements of true godliness. Faith and obedience. Faith and obedience are brought into play through the Word of God. Basically, the Word of God is made up of God’s promises and His commandments. We need faith to believe God’s promises in His Word. We need obedience to respond to God’s commandments. Live this life simply and we will go to the path of godliness. This is how simple it is, but we live and are immersed in a world that has a very limited understanding of life and the times we live in.
I want to plant in you Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the Bible, where it talks about the law, the statutes, the commandments of God, and the testimonies of the Lord over and over.
Psalm 119:34, “ Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart.” Psalm 119:38, “ Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.” The only way to hear God is through His Word; but are we spending time in His Word? Time is seeing ourselves in it. If we need direction in our lives, Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” How can a young man keep his way pure? It is by keeping it according to God’s law. Psalm 119:165, “Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.”
Many people leave the Church, and we blame the Bishop, the Priests, the ushers or the small place of the Church. We can come up with so many things to point at, but the bottom line is that we don’t have the understanding of God’s Word in our lives. God wants to build us up so that we can rise up in this area. Let us not allow ourselves to be just thrown out and be trampled upon. Before we can see a transformation in society, we must first have discipleship in the Sanctuary, and a disciple is a disciple of God’s Word.