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04/22/2018

1 John 3: 16-24   “Don’t Change the Recipe”   4/22/2018                                                       Rev. Jerry W. Krueger   Boardman United Methodist Church

“Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”  1John 3:18. We know the formula for the Great Commandment is “Love God, love neighbor.” (Matt. 22: 34-40) Leviticus in the OT states, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That is what God said to the people of Israel through Moses.        That is a terrific formula or recipe.

 

When I was in the food business, the company I worked for, Luby’s Cafeterias, Inc., had about 300 stores, 24,000 hourly employees, 75-80 employees or so per store, and a well-trained, set of 4 to 5 managers per restaurant who were enculturated to the following.

-You are only as good as the last meal you served.

-Do not take shortcuts.  Never cheat, lie, steal.

-We only use quality products.

- Always care for the employee and customer.

-. Read the recipe, follow the recipe, taste the end product.  Never serve anything you won’t serve to your Mom, Dad, kids or best friend.

 

One day I get a call to visit some of our stores in Oklahoma City.  When I walk in one of the stores that fed about 7,000 people a day, I note that the iced tea is cloudy. They have altered the recipe.

They failed to use RO water. They were using an inferior tea, not specified Tetley tea. Then I checked the weight of the cutlets the butcher had cut. Off by ½ ounce. Green beans were not Oregon Blue Lake beans. Milk was not whole milk, it was two percent. Eggs were NOT grade A Extra-large eggs, they were only medium...

 And the results showed. Flour was not General Mills 44. It was some local yokel product thus the Chicken batter was weak. Fried chicken was too small. Using incorrectly sized chickens... All the Pies were off recipe because they used non specified smaller eggs, margarine instead of butter to save a few cents. Everything was a mess. So I had a nice calm talk with the manger, the associate manger and 3 assistant mangers. All college educated, smart men and women. “It’s real simple. You do not have permission to ever change the recipes. Follow the guidelines. You will be successful. “Don’t CHANGE the RECEIPE!” It’s laid out for you for success. It takes more time, costs more money, but you are committed to do the RIGHT thing, and there is a reward at the end of each month.” Or you’re fired. Or in our case as Christians, we get sidetracked and lost.

 

The apostle John puts a human face on the commandment to love one another. The face of Jesus Christ. “We know love by this that he laid down his life, for us.” V. 16. John knows that our salvation through the loving Christ, came with the cost of a bitter crucifixion and death...

 

Our salvation costs. There is No CHEAP grace. No forgiveness of sins with a mere handshake that cost nothing. It cost the Son of God his life, just to assure you, and even those who do not follow him, the opportunity for salvation eternally. John says in plain language, “how does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods, and sees a brother and sister in need and refuses to help?’

 

Kind of like waving when you go by the guy with the flat tire.  Rolling down the window you shout, “Hope you get the flat fixed. I am praying for you brother.”  Really? Come help me.

 

Two years ago a tornado touched down in San Antonio on my Dad’s street.  He lost power when a tree landed on his house, so a neighbor checked on Dad. “Mr. Krueger, you all right? “Yes.” Need anything? Yes, I could use someone to remove the tree from my roof. Who should I call? “The man said he didn’t know. He wished Dad well and left.

 

Another neighbor stops, took Dad to his house since they still had power. They fixed Dad dinner, then the neighbor and his son took a saw to my dad’s home and removed a significant portion of the fallen tree from the roof.  The neighbor told Dad he would take him to a hotel that evening, or he could sleep at their house.  Power came on an hour later so Dad slept in his own bed.

 

Who was the neighbor that followed the recipe of putting our love for Christ into action?

 

Throughout the Bible, the Gospels in particular, we hear the promise of life, a new life in Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John was written so that, “you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have eternal life.” (John 20: 31) Jesus offers us new life, when we believe in Him.

 

John tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone believing in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  So now love is in the mix, and a new life that extends beyond the grave. And we call that - eternal life.

 

Jesus describes himself as the light of the world. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)  Life in Jesus name, and eternal life. The light of life. Abundant life. The way the truth and the life.  …. Life, life, life.

 

Christ is this loving recipe, that if we follow him, he remains the same. Providing new life, faith, healing restoration, abundant life, and eternal life for us.  All in his name.

 

Jesus has given us this gift that is never changing, always constant. The love of the Father and the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit to all of his children, if…they just accept the gift.

 

Like I told the management team at the Luby’s in Oklahoma City, “You have to be constant, constantly vigilant, always trying your best, using the best, for the best results. Looking out for others and their welfare. Don’t cheat, shortchange or be lazy. If you abide by these proven ways of doing things, you will thrive and be fulfilled in your vocation.”

 

The same can be said for us as Christians. Don’t take shortcuts to faith and maturing in Christ. Spend time in prayer. Do daily devotionals. Read YOUR Bible, daily. Look for God sightings and Holy Spirit nudging you.

 

 Faith takes time to mature. It takes work, and we have “never arrived.” Don’t rest on your past success. Move forward, toward the light. Remain steadfast to your Lord and Savior, and put your love into action.

 

Many of you put love into action for me and Susan when she was so ill. Some people took her to her treatments, some of you brought food, some sent food to us, some sent cards, notes, and many offered prayers.

Each of you has opportunity to put your love in action by doing something for one you love and perhaps for one you do not know. Helping on a mission trip, collecting for Veterans, giving blood, sponsoring a kid for camp, mowing someone s lawn, taking someone to the store. Love in action, blessed by Christ.

 

Faith into action. Our faith is shaped by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ loves us, and demonstrated his love, through the action of dying in our place to atone for OUR sins.       Love into action.

 

Our challenge today for this week and for life is this: Where can we demonstrate in some small way, or maybe some larger way, our love for Christ, through our taking action for another.

 

Action in love does cost, but the reward, the assurance, the gift, the treasure of loving God and loving neighbor, is priceless.

Give love in action a try, you have nothing to lose but your old self.  Go now in peace, and live for others, in Jesus name. Amen.