“Its a Wonderful World or a Dark, Messed Up World” is a sermon idea for John 17: 20-26, on 7th Sunday of Easter or Ascension Sunday.
“I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white, The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces, of people passing by, I see friends shaking hands, saying “how do you do?” They’re really saying, “I love you”
I hear babies cryin, I watch them grow, They’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world! “
Whether its Louie Armstrong or the Hawaiian version, “It’s a Wonderful World” reminds us of all the good things in life.
On the other hand, there is much corruption in the world: wars, starvation, killings, murders. As Einstein said, “our world is drifting to catastrophe.”
In the Gospel of John, the world is symbolic of the dark side, the evil side, the nasty side, the warring side of human personality in each of us.
This world in the Gospel John is not so much a wonderful world at nature at its best but a wandering world of humanity at its worst. This wandering world is a world that has wandered far away from God and the ways of God and the love of God. In the Gospel of John, the world is symbolic of people who have wandered from God, drifted from God. The world loves darkness rather than light.
For the Gospel of John, the world is not (sing?) “trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you.” Rather it is, “People are mean, and nasty too, I see them hate, and kill folks like you. And I say to myself, “It’s a dark, messed up world.”
And both themes are true: It’s a wonderful world. It’s a dark, messed up world.
In the gospel lesson for today, we hear the word, “world,” thirteen times. Yes, thirteen times.
The big question in the gospel text for today is what is our relationship with the world around us to be? What is our relationship to be to this dark, messed up world in which we live?
…and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. The world out there around us is going to hate us, resent us because we do not belong to the world and its values.
Underline the phrase, “do not belong to the world.” Jesus has said this to us endlessly, repetitively, repeatedly. Jesus is like a parent who repeats the same truth/advice/perceptions to his/her children over and over and over again. Children need to hear the truth over and over and over again. It is in the repetition that a person comes to realize the importance of what is being said. There are some basic mathematical tables that are endlessly drilled into our minds so that we can remember them and put them into practice. This is also true of several of Jesus’ fundamental teachings. He repeats them over and over again until we finally begin to learn them.
The word, “world,” (kosmos) is used numerous times in this whole chapter. The disciples’ relationship with their world and we contemporary disciples’ relationship with our world is the primary focus of this text.
That is the question of this text: what is to be our relationship with the world in which we live?
“The world” does not refer to this planet Earth nor to our universe but the world, the culture, the civilization around us which is permeated with evil, imperfection, injustice and sin. In the Gospel of John, the world is always hostile to God but God still loves the world.
The world in which we live is incredibly beautiful. Skies of blue, red roses too. But this world is also permeated with evil and injustice.
Followers of Christ do not belong to the world. To the world of sin, the world of darkness, the world of evil that surrounds us. The world around us does not know what it means to love God with all one’s self and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We do not belong to such values.
We remember that God/Jesus loved the world. We remember John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
We Christians are to love the world as God loves the world. Jesus did not condemn the world around him and we are not to condemn our world either.
As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. Highlight the words, “world.” This is the eleventh and twelfth time we have seen them in this text. The word, “world,” is used more often in these verses than in any other place in the Bible.
As Jesus Christ was sent to this world by God, so his disciples are also “sent” out into the world. The Greek word for “sent” is “apostolos” from which we get our English word, “apostles” or “apostolic.” An apostolic church/community is a community which is sent out in the world rather than waiting for the world to come into the doors of the sanctuaries.
And where are we sent? To the world around us. To people around us who do not know nor live by the values and actions of the Great Commandment to love God with everything inside of us and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
We Christians are church members are forever a missionary people. Jesus is sending us today out into our world around us. Jesus sends us to the world but we do not belong to the world. You and I belong to God.
Edited from a sermon by Rev. Edward Markquart