SERMON TITLE: “By This We Know”
SERMON TEXT: 1 John 4:13-16 and 5:1-5, 13-20
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: May 19, 2019, at First UMC
A few days ago in The Standard-Examiner, there was a long listing of all the school graduation dates and times. This is definitely the season when young people don their caps and gowns and receive their diplomas. This is the annual season when we, as a society, celebrate the accomplishment of some essential life goals and, hopefully, the achievement of a certain degree of knowledge.
Fortunately, the process by which we gain knowledge isn’t limited to attending K-12 schools or institutions of higher education. If we’re willing and curious, every day of our lives is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. For example, last week, when I was gone from you, Steve and I were on a trip in Southwest Florida. While attending a 3-day conference of the United Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries, I learned all kinds of valuable information about faith-based senior living communities. During the second half of the week, I caught up on the latest about some relatives and learned about manatees, alligators, and the Calusa Indians who used to live in that region.
For those of us with open minds, there’s never a shortage of wonderful opportunities for new discoveries. Sometimes that’s the problem, though, isn’t it? There’s so much to learn; there’s so much more than we could ever master; there’s so much we realize that we don’t know—that it’s easy to doubt ourselves. In ancient times, a person had a lifetime to learn just a small amount of information. Things stayed pretty much the same for decades, if not centuries. But, now, with the internet and all the data available, we often feel like we’re on information overload. There’s no way we can keep up with the pace of change. Instead of living in a time of knowledge, it seems the opposite: We live in a time when we feel like we hardly know anything. And that sense of uncertainty and discomfort can affect even the brightest among us and create in us a kind of spiritual dis-ease.
That’s why I selected today’s scripture reading from First John chapters four and five. When Nancy read it to us, maybe you caught the theme of confident spiritual knowledge that comes up over and over again. I invite you to dig into these verses with me and see how it might feel for us to say with bold assurance, “By this we know.”