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

Grand Lake Artistic Chaos Foundation

Dr. Robert R. Ball

                                      SMILE
           GOD LOVES YOU

Sermon first presented September 12, 1971
              

         SMILE GOD LOVES YOU
                        
 
  

                                     Scripture: Matthew 7:21-23

                                                   Sermon by
                                            Dr. Robert R. Ball
                              Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church
                              Houston, Texas - September 12, 1971



          IT WAS PROBABLY a male chauvinist who said it, but it's a
     cute story anyway. If you ask a man where he got the steaks he
     cooked for you, he will reply, "Bill's Meat Market."; but ask a
     woman and she will respond, "Why? What's wrong with them?"

          I really don't believe that women are more defensive than men.
     It's all of us, male and female, young and old, who carry around
     tons of defensiveness on our shoulders.

          * We start our day prepared to explain why we overslept,
            why we don't think straight before 10:00 in the morning,
            why we can't get to church on time.

          * Men have to explain to the boss why the report isn't finished,
            why we can't work late on Thursday, and why we can't make it
            on what he's paying us.

          * Women have to explain why their hair looks a mess, why their
            tennis game is off, and why they can't possibly serve as
            homeroom mother this year.

     And the kids? A kid, kicked out of school for the third time,
     defended himself by saying he didn't really like school all that
     much; it was just the principal of the thing.

          Most lovers' quarrels, most parent-child conflicts, most
     management-labor disputes, accomplish very little - precisely
     because all of us are so defensive. Everyone is defending his
     own position so vigorously that he doesn't even hear what the
     other person is saying. Discussions get nowhere until and unless
     somehow the participants get past the level of being defensive.

          It's more than the words we use. it's an attitude toward life.
     When we're thinking of how we will handle a troublesome kid or a
     business critic or someone coming from the church to askl for a
     pledge, our possibilities are limited to those things that will prove
     us right, no matter how questionable our position may actually
     appear.

                                                          I.

          A defensive argument never convinced anyone. A recent,
     widely publicized Houston happening illustrates that fact. When
     the Reverend Leon Everett voted with the conservatives to fire Dr.
     Garver as superintendant of the Houston school system, his
     explanation was short and simple. He was personally offended by
     Dr. Garver's refusal to give him a report he wanted about one of
     the school superintendents. Then all hell broke loose. The poor
     Reverend Everett found himslf bombarded by leaders from both
     the black and th white communities. Under heavy attack, his
     explanations suddenly got more detailed and involved. finally they
     got him to a mass meeting in the Black community. Everett came
     foreward with a long and detailed listing of Garver's erors and
     inadequacies. But the reports from the meeting indicate that no
     one's mind was changed. Those who supported Everett still did,
     and his opponents were only the more enraged.

          That's how it is with defensiveness. it never accomplishes its
     purpose. A defensive arguent never convinces anyone who
     doesn't already want to be convinced.

          What's more, defensiveness often achieves exactly the
     opposite of what we want. For example, a wife, wanting some
     affection, says to her husband, "Why don't you give me a kiss?"
     Her husband, also wanting some affection, replies, "Why don't you
     give me one?" She says, "You know I always want a kiss but I hate
     to be too foreward." "Too foreward," he screams, "I'm always
     trying to get some affection from you, but what I get is snubbed."

                                                      

     They were both so defensive that neither one got the affection
     they wanted You can't love a defensive person. He won't let you.

          One of the very best of defensive tactics is to get the other
     person on the defensive. Let's say you're lecturing your teenage
     daughter for getting home an hour and a half after she had been
     told to be in. Right in the middle of it all she says, "If you think my
     sleep is so important, why are you making me stay up so late to
     listen to you?" Strange, isn't it? You started out thinking that she
     was the one in the wrong.

          Living on the defensive, as most of us do to one extent or
     another, becomes a wall holding us from any real contact with
     other people or with life. You can hardly relax and enjoy being
     alive when you have to work so hard defending your right to exist.
     Defensiveness is an epidemic that stifles out life and love and
     hope.

                                                         II.

          So why are we so defensive? Basically, I would guess, it's
     because we carry around a deep-seated fear that down inside
     we're really very wrong. We stay on the defensive lest someone
     also find out how weak and unworthy we really are. We need an
     excuse.

          Recently I read where one man was defending himself by
     saying, "We're the first generation to have grown up as kids when
     the kids were always wrong, and to be adults when the adults are
     always wrong."

          * We know we haven't been perfect husbands or wives. Most
            of us would admit it. But we're still defensive because we think
            we could have been much better than we are.

          * We know we haven't been perfect parents, but we get
            defensive because we can hardly stand the thought that we've
            been as bad as it sometimes appears we are.

          * Kids know they haven't been perfect kids; but they feel that if
            they took the rap for everything thrown at them, they could
            never be able to hold their heads up straight.

     So everyone goes around defending himself, fearing in his heart
     that his position isn't really defensible, which makes him struggle
     all the harder to make it appear that it is.

          The biblical understanding of man begins with the assumption
     that we ARE wrong, that we HAVE fallen short of the love and
     purpose for which we were created. If we don't start there, we
     don't start with Jesus Christ at all. That's why many do not start.
     They are too defensive to admit that they need a Savior. They
     want to keep the illusion going that they can think and work their
     way through anything all by themselves.

                                                    

          That's the start, but the Gospel doesn't leave us there - though
     many of us get stuck at that point. The Gospel of jesus Christ is
     this: IN THE LOVE OF GOD, WE WHO ARE WRONG HAVE
     BEEN MADE RIGHT. WE ARE RIGHT!

          My right to stand before you as a pastor today is not the result
     of any merit on my part. If it depended on that, there's no way in
     which I could be permitted to be here. I am here because, by the
     gracious mercy of God, he is willing to use selfish, insecure
     persons like me in his loving and creative purposes.

          The love of God in Christ is our hope, our only hope; but it is
     hope enough and real enough to allow me to go out and be a part
     of life - indefensively - to live with confidence and joy.

          When I get "down" on me (which happens more than
     occasionally), I get defensive. My energies get used up trying to
     defend my right to be a husband and a father. I even use up
     sermon time defending my right to be a pastor. And nothing
     constructive happens for me or for anyone else. But when I dare
     to believe the forgiveness and acceptance of God, I don't have to
     be so defensive. I am able to examine issues for what they are, to
     hear what others are really saying, to open up my defensive shell
     and let life pour in. That's when life is good.

                                                         III.

          Now let's look at our scripture.

                   "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord'
                   shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who
                   does the will of my father who is in heaven. On
                   that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did
                   we not prophesy in your name, and cast out
                   demons in your name, and do many mighty
                   works in your name?' And then I will declare to
                   them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you
                   evil doers."

          The first thing we notice about these "Lord, Lord" people is
     how defensive they are. They came to the Lord explaining how
     carefully that had said all the right words. They even did the right
     deeds. But somehow they missed out on what was going on. They
     never got into the spirit of what God was doing. God wanted to
     love them, but you can't love a defensive person; he won't let you.
     Jesus said he didn't even know them.

          NO one gets to know a defensive person. All you ever know of
     them is their enormous egotism or their humble, humble yuk! Or
     whatever outer shell they use to keep you from knowing who they
     really are. They don't even know themselves.

          A little later in his ministry, Jesus told the parable of the
     prodigal son. The saddest character in the story is not the
     prodigal, but the brother

                                                    

      who stayed at home. This boy did all the things that were expected
     of a good and obedient child.

     * He probably had some fantasies about going off to the far
       country as his kid brother actually did, but no one ever knew of
       them. He seemed to pure for that.

          * When the prodigal returned to be received with great
            rejoicing, the older brother erupted like a volcano.
            Defensively, he started listing all his virtues.

               * The father grieved, but he understood. "You don't need to
                  be so defensive, my son. I appreciate all you have done. I
                  love you with all my heart. Everything I have is yours."

                    * The most important thing the father wanted from his
                       sons was not their hard work but to recieve and share
                       his love. That's what it's all about.

     The boy refused to believe that he was loved. So he had to try to
     prove by his deeds that he was worthy of love. That's not how you
     find love - and he didn't.

          What does God want from us? Doesn't he want the hungry to
     be fed and the victims of injustice to be freed and the lonely to be
     visited? Yes, he certainly does. But you know how it is when
     someone does something very fine for you but does it
     defensively, trying to prove something - to show how generous
     they are or that now you owe them respect and appreciation. It
     makes you wish they hadn't even done it.

          When someone gives for the joy of sharing the good things
     God has given to him, it's entirely different. When our energies
     aren't used up being defensive, they can be used in loving. That's
     when we come alive. That's doing the will of God.

                                         C O N C L U S I O N

          God loves you. It seems like such a weak and empty phrase in
     the midst of all the horrible pains and problems that beset us, but
     it is by far the most important thing we can know in getting at those
     pains and problems. When we know that God loves us - really
     know it - it takes us off the defensive. We no longer have to live
     such an uptight, protective life. Knowing ourselves to be loved, we
     can confront life and other people more realistically. All the gifts
     and insights and energies God gives us suddenly become
     available for use. It's a new kind of life.
   
               Everything depends on how we react to Jesus Christ.


                                                    




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

                         

Sermon by Dr. Robert R. Ball

July 11, 1971   

Here Come De Judge

Sermon from August 1, 1971

        BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER

Sermon by

The VERY young seminary intern minister

Mr. William J. Carl III

(Now president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

presented at

MEMORIAL DRIVE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Houston, Texas                          August 8, 1971


>Seriously But Not Literally

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

Authority Figures I Have Known

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

IT'S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS,

NOT RULES

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

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