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

Grand Lake Artistic Chaos Foundation

Dr. Robert R. Ball

                                 Y E S,
                                 N O
                                         and
                                                 W O W !


                                                  Sermon presented May 23, 1971
     
               Y E S
                          N O,
                                   and
                                           W O W !


                                                         Meditation
                                    It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of
                                    Christian brethren is a gift if grace, a gift
                                    of the kingdom of God that any day may
                                    be taken from us. --Dietrich Bonhoeffer  

     A sermon by                                                                                  May 23, 1971
     Dr. Robert R. Ball + Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church + Houston, Texas

                                            Scripture: Matthew 5:33-37


     ABOUT the finest compliment an adult can receive from a young person is, "Wow,
     man, you're for real!" Actually, it's about the finest compliment you could receive
     from anyone. It is a rare and happy occasion when you run into someone who is a
     real person.

     A PROFESSOR at the University of Wisconsin says that's what the current "youth
     revolution" is all about; he says these young people are looking for an "authentic
     adult conversation." A top level TV executive says that our present generation of
     young people are the first to have spent more of their childhood with television
     than with their parents, and they are sick of electronic companionship. That's why
     that pack themselves into places like Woodstock. They want personal contact with
     real life.

     THOSE of us who are known as "The Establishment" may question the
     authenticity of some of the new youth life styles, but we can hardly deny the deceit
     of our own.

          *We go around being nice and polite to a lot of people who, quite honestly, vex
            us to the point of total distraction. We almost choke on our own deceit.

               *There are other people about whom we care very deeply. We wish
                 desperately that they knew, but everything w say seems to give the
                 opposite impression.

                    *We tell our kids to be individuals, not to be carried along with the crowd;
                      then we go all to pieces when the crowd they refuse to go along with is
                      our own.

                        *We tell them not to be selfish, to think of others; then we spend 37%
                          of our national budget on warfare and, grudgingly, less than 2% on
                          welfare.

                              *We tell them that God should have first priority in their lives; then
                                they see where we invest the greatest amount of our time and
                                interest.

     Sometimes we even yell at them, "Listen! Show some respect!" Then they see
     how little we listen to them, and how little respect we exhibit for persons and ideas    
     that disagree with us.

     THE saddest part of all is that we are no happier with this life of deceit and
     rationalization than the kids are. The difference is that far too often we simply
     surrender to it while many of the young people are less willing to say,

                        "That's just the way it is, and the way it will be."
    
     They think it can be changed. So does Jesus Christ.

                                                                        I.

     LIVING authentically is what Jesus is talking about in this morning's scripture. His
     central point is this: EVERY MOMENT OF OUR LIVES IS LIVED IN THE
     PRESENCE OF GOD.

     DECEITFUL living begins with the assumption that God is not around unless we
     want him to be. If that were the case, we would not be, finally, responsible to
     anything or anyone. Jesus says that is not so. Everything we say and everything
     we do is said and done in the presence of God. We are responsible to him.

     WE don't like that. Having God around all the time gets in the way of a lot we want
     to do. There's something in us that would like for God to leave us alone. "Let me
     live my own life and make my own rules and find my own happiness!" Dr. Ganse
     Little, past moderator of the United Presbyterian Church says,

                       "Everyone in the world is running away from God; and the
                        only difference with church people is that, because they are
                        joined together, they can't run away quite so fast. They get
                        in each other's way."

     But God is inescapable. There just isn't any real life other than the life he gives.
     There's no way to escape him - no matter how much we deny him, no matter
     how smart or rich or how famous we become. There's no deserted island and
     no back-street hotel room where we can go to shake loose from him. Francis
     Thompson spent most of his life running from God. at the end of the race he
     wrote,

                       "I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
                             I fled Him down the arches of the years;
                         I fled Him down the labyrinth ways
                            Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
                         I hid from Him, and under running laughter,
                             From those strong feet that followed, followed after."

     TRYING to run away from God is trying to run away from life and reality, but we
     still keep trying nonetheless. Then something happens. Suddenly we need him.

          *Then we wail, "Where is God? Why doesn't God ever do anything?
            Why doesn't God answer my prayers? Why can't I feel the power of
            his presence?"

               *We spend the lion's share of our time escaping God. Then we get
                 disgusted with him when we can't reach out and make contactt with
                 him when we need him.

     THOSE who live authentically know that God is present in every moment of life.
     To put God "on call" for when we need him, is to create a whole life of deceit.

                                                                        II.

     SOMETIMES a situation arises where we really want to be believed. We might
     say something like, "I swear to God that I mean it!" What we really mean is,

                       "Normally, I would expect you to believe me. Most of what
                        I say is not all that honest, but now I am being authentic. I
                        really want to be believed, so I'm using the name of God
                        for reinforcement. Never mind that I usually disregard him
                        myself."

     It's sad but true. People hardly ever say what they really mean. Do we?

          *"This is the most irresponsible generation of kids ever!" What they really
             mean is, "I'm afraid that I can't control them, and that really frightens me."

               *Or, "These kids are the best yet!" Which probably means, "I wish I had
                 had that much spunk and nerve back when I was a kid!"

                    *Sometimes the kids say, "I despise you!" Meaning, "I'm afraid that
                      you'll never accept me as I am, never let me be my own real self."

     AFTER nearly 18 years of being married and 13 years of talking to people with
     troubled marriages, I am completely satisfied that inauthentic communication
     (not saying what we mean) is THE problem on which nearly every other marital
     problem is built. We speak to each other in what I call "God Almighty statements":
     "You are a louse! You are cruel! You are ruining the kids! You are completely
     unreasonable. You are a frigid wench!"

     A "God Almighty statement" is one that seems to come down out of heaven, as if
     God himself had spoken. That's the way it is!" There's no response that can be
     made to it. When you have a "God Almighty statement" thrown at you, either you
     duck or run, or you accept it or fight it with a "God Almighty statement" of your own.

     TALK about deceit! Who is qualified to make a "God Almighty statement"? They
     are made by people who have kicked God out of their world and are reigning all
     alone. The only authentic statements we human beings can make are "I feel
     statements," -"You make me feel scared or neglected or unappreciated."

     THAT'S authentic. And to it another authentic "I feel statement" can be made in
     response: "I'm sorry you feel that way. I feel scared too." The lines of
     communication are kept open, and where there is communication there is
     authentic life - making real contact with God, with other people, and with our own
     real selves.

     "GOD Almighty statements" are really "I feel statements" in disguise. They are
     made by frightened people who have no God in their lives and are trying to be in
     charge of everything all by themselves. "God Almighty statements" can intimidate
     and infuriate, but they never can communicate. They produce the phony existence
     which we abhor.

                                                                        III.

     JUST a couple of weeks ago, I asked a class at Westchester High School why
     they lie, which they all admitted that they did. They all agreed that they lie because
     they are afraid - afraid they won't be liked, afraid they might lose a privilege,
     afraid they might lose the respect of someone whose respect they need.

     I TOLD them that it's exactly the same with adults. We live in deceit because we
     are afraid of all that we might lose if we were to allow ourselves to be known for
     who we really are. That's why Jesus Christ is our way out of deceit and into
     authentic living. Jesus Christ says that who we are is worth being, and he says it
     authentically. He says it with his life.

     THE person who accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord, living consciously and
     confidently in his presence, knows that nothing can ever separate him from the
     love of God in Jesus Christ. He doesn't have to be afraid any more. He knows
     that nothing can destroy him.

     WHEN you decide to trust Christ and his loving acceptance, to break out of the
     ring of deceit that surrounds us, you make two enormous discoveries.

     THE first discovery is how hard it is to do. Deceit has become a habitual way of
     life with us. It's almost like the whole world has made an unspoken contract not to
     communicate authentically. If a husband begins telling his wife how he really feels
     - about his hopes, his fears, his needs - she is sure to be startled, probably
     frightened, and possibly even indignant. You can expect the same thing socially
     and at work. Authenticity is against the rules! It just isn't done! Dr. James Dolby,
     professor of psychology at Baylor University, writes:

                        "To tell another person of one's failure, guilt, insecurities,
                        lust, and love may be as difficult a task as a person will
                        ever have in his entire lifetime. It has been said that some
                        people would rather die than be known."

     JESUS says it is like dying. "He who would lose his life for my sake will find it."

     THE person who embarks on authentic living in Christ makes another discovery
     that is even more enormous. He finds freedom - a sense of liberation.

          *You no longer have to hide or defend or rationalize. You no longer have to
           maintain a wardrobe made up of a thousand masks, making sure that you
           are wearing the right one.

               *You can walk right out into the world as if it were perfectly O.K. and even
                good for you to be there. You can do that because it really is.

     THERE's something terribly exciting about being knowing and being known. It's
     the authenticity the whole world is looking for. It happens when God is our
     Defender and our Friend.

                                                           C o n c l u s i o n

     THE late Erich Berne, one of America's best known psychiatrists, once said that
     the authentic person only needs three words in his vocabulary, "Yes, no and wow!"
     Jesus was saying and living that truth out some 2,000 years ago.

     TO say "yes" and "no" means that you can come on straight - not hedging or
     dodging to defend yourself, or to try to build an acceptable public image.

          *That's not the same as those who say they're going to be brutally frank and
            proceed to devastate other people with their rudeness. They're still captives
            to building an image.

               *It means respecting yourself and others enough that you are willing to be
                known for who you are, and willing to know others for who they are.

                    *It means being courageous enough to say, "I'm afraid," when you are
                     afraid, and "I don't know," when you don't know, and "I'm lonely," when
                     you are lonely, and "I love you," when you love.

     IT comes from the person who knows that he lives in God's world and depends on
     no other image to support him than the confidence that he has God's loving
     acceptance.

     CAN you even imagine what it would be like to be known as people who speak
     every word they speak in the presence of God, people whose word can be
     trusted, authentic people who allow others to be authentic? In that authentic
     communication lies our only hope for an authentic human society. Jesus Christ is
     our hope.

     JESUS said, "Say 'yes' when you mean yes. Say 'no' when you mean no. Let your
     defensiveness fall away, and you will be open to a brand new kind of life."

          *Then we can experience with unguarded joy the beauty and wisdom of a
           world that has been created for us by a God who loves and cares - personally.

               *Then we can experience the fulfilling ecstasy of making authentic contacts
                 with other human beings - just one human being to another.

                    *Then we can experience the freedom and release of living our lives in a
                      world whose future is enclosed in the loving purpose of Jesus Christ.

     WHEN the wonder of being authentically alive in the midst of all that gangs up on us,
     when we experience the royal freedom of being the sons of God, then the only thing
     left to say is,

                                                              "W O W !"
                                                             =========

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

                         

Sermon by Dr. Robert R. Ball

July 11, 1971   

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

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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