The M.A.D. House Artists (Mom And Dad)

Grand Lake Artistic Chaos Foundation

Dr. Robert R. Ball

A

W H O L E     L I F E - F U L L

O F

P O S S I B I L I T I E S

       Sermon first given July 11, 1971


 A
                                                  
W H O L E     L I F E - F U L L
                                      
O F
                                                   
P O S S I B I L I T I E S

                           
                                      "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound,
                                      your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not
                                      sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the
                                      light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness. No one
                                      can serve two masters; for either he will haste the one and
                                      love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise
                                      the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
                                                                                                 -Matthew 6:22-24

                                                                  


                                                                   A Sermon by

                                                              Dr. Robert R. Ball

                                                                    July 11, 1971
                      _____________________________________________________________
                       Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church -- 11612 Memorial Dr. - Houston, Texas 


          Most of the time we do not see people or events as they are. WE SEE THEM
     AS THEY SEEM TO US, screened through the filters of our own needs and fears.

          Let's say, for example, that a man rides back and forth to work in a car pool.
     When he comes home on this particular day, his wife rushes down the walk to
     greet him with a passionate embrace.

          *One of the other men in the car thinks to himself,"That fellow must be the
            luckiest guy in the whole world - to have a wife who loves him with such
            unbridled affection!"
              
               *But another man thinks, "I wonder what that woman is after? He'd better be
                 careful. She'll put the bite on for something before the night is over."

                    *Still another thinks, "She's just trying to get back in his good graces. She
                      was probably some kind of shrew last night. He ought to throw her out."

     They have all seen the same thing, but what registers inside is not the same at all.
     No matter how sure we are that such and such is true, "because I saw it with my
     own eyes," what we see is largely determined by the attitude with which we look.

          That's what Jesus was saying to those people there on the mountain some
     2,000 years ago. If your eye is whole and healthy, then what comes through your
     eye will be realistic and true - the kind of accurate information on which a person
     can build a constructive and creative life. But if your way of looking is sick and
     distorted, then everything that comes in to you will be sick and distorted also, a
     small fragment of reality. The resulting dark mess inside of you makes purposeful
     living quite impossible.

          Jesus tells us this because it is we ourselves, finally, who control the gate
     through which light enters our lives. We decide what we will see.

                                                                        I.
    
          In ancient days the most enlightened people looked to the horizon and decided
     the world was square, that if they sailed out too far they would fall off the edge. In
     early America, people were frightened by unconventional behavior and women
     were burned at the stake as witches. Today we are repulsed by such
     narrow-minded arrogance. Isn't it possible that some future generation may find
     narrowness in our point of view? Are we entitled to think that now we have the full
     and final truth on everything.

          It's not uncommon to hear a modern day man say to his wife of kids, "There's
     only one way we're ever going to have any peace in this family. Either you start
     doing such and such or we're through!"

          The way he sees it, there's only one issue at stake in the dispute; and he
     honestly thinks that he sees it with absolute clarity. Unfortunately, the other person
     is equally as sure and sees something completely different. So the battle rages
     on - like the medieval crusaders murdering Moslems for the love and truth of God.

          It's not just in families. You find it happening almost everywhere. "There's only
     one way this company can be operated. There's only one way this country can
     ever prosper. There's only one way to have peace in the world. The only good
     communist is a dead one."

          How did we get so smart? We pop into this world at one tiny spotin history and
     shortly thereafter we pop out again. We can't possibly have seen or thought or
     read everything. At best, our view is very limited. How can our finite minds
     presume to be the final authorities on what is true and what is not? We have to
     shrink reality down pretty far to think we know enough to say, "This is the one way
     to real life!" When we shrink it down, everything that happens serves to confirm
     our predetermined conviction.

          That's the kind of thinking that keeps our homes and our churches and our
     world divided, breeding dissension between generations and nations. Each of us
     has his own way of looking, growing out of our own unique set of experiences. As
     authentic as that view may be in itself, it is not everything; but we tend to serve
     that vision of truth with our lives. No wonder we so often feel so helpless. If there's
     only one way, our way, and that fails, all is lost. There are no other possibilities.

          Our society as it is, is not as it should be. We would all agree to that. The
     radicals want to destroy the society. The hard-hats want to destroy the radicals.
     Either way, the destruction of somebody seems to be our only possibility.
     However the battle may turn out, destruction has been the master that was served.
     Unless we come up with some new possibilities, no matter what changes, nothing
     will change. There will be no new possibilities without a new master.

                                                                       II.

          Jesus begs us to understand that we don't have to go on looking at life in the
     same, sick way. Our eyes are the gate through which light enters, and we control
     the gate. There are many people who don't, or won't, believe that. You hear, "I
     know I shouldn't look at it that way, but I just can't help it."

          Now no one needs to convince me that what happens to a person, especially
     what he experiences in his relationships with others, has an ENORMOUS
     influence on his way of looking. But if that's it, and we're stuck with it, life is a
     hopeless affair indeed - and any notion of human freedom is an absolute farce. If
     our lives are determined by our environmental influences, there is no freedom.

          If a person has been kicked around most of his life, it isn't easy for him to
     believe that love conquers hate, or that kindness produces a more meaningful life
     than getting all you can before somebody gets yours. It wasn't easy for Jesus, as
     he looked down from the cross at the men who were killing him, to see anything
     but the evil disciples of Satan himself. From the standpoint of human justice, the
     worst thing that could have happened to them would have been better than they
     deserved.

          But Jesus' view of what he saw was not restricted to what his tortured eyes
     could see. God was his master, and that firm commitment changed his way of
     looking.

     *He saw frightened and childish men - men whose faithless lives had been given
      over to their concern with where their next meal and theior next promotion would
      come from.

          *Their narrow way of looking at life included no concern for a world of decency
           and mercy and a compassionate respect for the worth of human life.

               *Jesus could have called down a host of angels to destroy them, but that
                would merely have exchanged Roman oppression for an oppressing God.

     Oppression was not the kind of kingdom Jesus came to establish. So he forgave
     them. It was a new experience for them. No one had treated them that way before.
     Now they had a choice to make as to what was real, and so do we.

          Our choice is this: either we allow our view of life to be controlled by the
     rationality of our own minds and our experience of hurt, OR we dare to believe
     that the truth in which we live is the love revealed by God in Jesus Christ. WE
     WILL SERVE ONE OR THE OTHER - either the wisdom of the world or the
     wisdom of God. We can't have it both ways.

          Christ has come to show us that destruction is not our only possibility. We DO
     have a choice. To say that we can't change our way of looking at things because
     mother didn't love us properly, or because we were reared in the South, is a
     cop-out - a refusal to face up to the tough choices of being a responsible human
     being. Jesus Christ has come. His love is alive and visible in the world. The
     opportunity is ours to choose it.

                                                                       III.

          If we choose to serve God as our one and only Master, we are released from
     the confines of our narrow, self-protecting view of things. It's sometimes called an
     "aha! experience." "Of course, now I see it! Why, it was there all the time! Once I
     was blind, but now I see." Suddenly the whole world comes alive with an unlimited
     abundance of possibilities.

          With God as our Master, we can see how he continues to work for good, even
     in those situations where he and his cause seemed totally destroyed. The cross
     of Christ is the prime example. He who had come to establish a kingdom of love
     and peace was dying alone on the cross - the victim of that world's violence and
     hate. As far as the human eye can see, there was no hope to be found anywhere
     in that entire ugly picture. All seemed lost. But God was not finished. He has
     turned that bloody cross of hate into a symbol of life and love. Today it stands
     atop hospitals and orphanages and rescue stations and cathedrals and country
     churches around the entire world.

          When the world has done you in, when you look in vain for any sign of hope,
     there is hope to be found when your eyes are trained on Jesus Christ. He is the
     center of reality. With his love as your focus, all the rest that has appeared
     fragmented and distorted can now be seen for what it really is.

          With God as our Master, we are also permitted to see other people in a new
     light - not just as threats to our well-being, but as people very much like us.

     *That person in your family who sometimes makes your life miserable is actually
      aching for love as desperately as you are. To see his NEED is to see new
      possibilities.

          *That person who opposes everything you stand for, and does it belligerently,
           fears you as much as you fear him. Open your eyes to his fear and you will find
           many new possibilities.

     When we see others only on the basis of the hurt or pleasure they bring to us, then
     we don't see them as persons at all. To see with God's views offers new
     opportunities for relationship.

          With God as our Master, we are able to see ourselves in a whole new light. We
     are no longer stuck with worrying about whether we really do amount to anything,
     with whether or not we can ever make up for those horrible mistakes in our past,
     with whether or not it is possible for us to be respected and appreciated. In God's
     view of you, you matter so much that he is wiling to give his life for you - willing to
     promise you constant attention of his power and presence. Doesn't that open up
     some new possibilities for you? God knows us far better than we know ourselves.
     He says we are useful and make a difference. Can you do something with that?

                                                          C O N C L U S I O N

          When Nicodemus, a learned scholar, came to Jesus seeking the fullness of
     life, Jesus told him that he would have to be born again. Nicodemus immediately
     began to argue, "How can I enter a second time into my mother's womb and be
     born?"

          Jesus said, in effect, "Open your eyes, Nicodemus. I'm not talking about being
     born again physically. If you want to keep it on that literal level, you are stuck with
     seeing the world in your narrow, flat, material, and fearful perspective. Go back
     and look at the world as if you had never seen it before. This time use my love as
     the perspective for your looking. Be confident of my power, serve my truth, and it
     will be like a whole new life for you - full of possibilities."

          The choice is ours. We control the gate. We choose what we will see and
     whom we will serve.



(Sermon preserved and provided
courtesy of Pamela Mudd Conlan.
Thanks, Pam!)

         

LINKS TO OTHER SERMONS

YOU ARE MY CENTERFIELDER

January 26, 1969

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HUMAN?

Sermon from January 25, 1970

FOLK WORSHIP SERVICE

 from April 5, 1970

WHAT SALT IS FOR

Sermon from June 21, 1970

BOLD ENOUGH TO FAIL

Sermon from September 6, 1970

DON'T PUT ME DOWN

Sermon from September 13, 1970

I BELIEVE THAT GOD BELIEVES IN CLAUDE

Sermon from September 27, 1970

WHERE AUTHENTIC PEOPLE MEET

Sermon from December 13, 1970

 T H E    S E R P E N T    D I D    I T

Sermon from February 14, 1971

FROM: M O N O T O N Y

TO: M E A N I N G

Sermon from February 28, 1971

                    FROM ANXIETY

                                                TO FAITH

                                               Sermon from March 7, 1971

                         

                          Y E S,

                                      N O,

                                                and

                                                         W O W!

Sermon by Dr. Robert R. Ball

May 23, 1971                          CLICK HERE

Here Come De Judge

Sermon from August 1, 1971

>SMILE GOD LOVES YOU

Dr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon presented September 12, 1971

>Seriously But Not Literally

DDr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon presented September 19, 1971

Authority Figures I Have Known

Dr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon, September 26, 1971

I Give You Permission

DDr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon, October 10, 1971

>IT'S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS,

NOT RULES

DDr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon presented JULY 31, 2011


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