May 26, 2019
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Psalm 67; John 14:23-27
RUMC, Pastor SeokCheol Shin
The Holy Counselor
Emotional Roller Coaster of Life
What a beautiful season we have enjoyed these days! The weather is getting warmer, the days are lengthening, the sky is dazzling blue, the air is fresh, and our yards are shining in green. We are surrounded by all sorts of signs pointing to the beginning of summer, and I am sure that we all have been looking forward to this seasonal change.
One major event of this time of year in our country is graduation— graduating from kindergarten, elementary school, high School, college…. If your family is celebrating a graduation this year, congratulations!!! Last Sunday our church had a special service dedicated to and led by our children and youth from the Sunday School. During our service, we recognized kids graduating from their schools, or promoted by one grade, and we prayed for their next adventures. I am so proud of our kids and thankful of all the teachers who have nurtured them in our Christian teachings.
Yet I believe graduation often brings us complex emotions. You must be so excited with the fact that “you are done,” feeling like you are going up to the top. But when you think about the reality with a question, “now what,” your feeling will be completely turned upside down. Maybe it is like riding a rollercoaster.
I think this “rollercoaster confusion” is a pretty good term to describe the feelings of the disciples in our text from John’s Gospel. Following Jesus, they must feel like they have all things in the world, but suddenly Jesus says that he is going away and that they can’t come with him. Their world is about to be turned upside down. It is no doubt their emotional rollercoaster is now heading down to the bottom.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
John 14 is the chapter called Jesus’ farewell speech. It is time for him to say goodbye to his disciples and they will never see him again face to face. He knows that all his disciples must feel discouraged, and that’s why he starts with the encouraging message, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me” (v. 1). And then in the following two verses, he is comforting them with an essential promise: he is going to prepare a place for them and will return and take them with him to that place, so that they can be with him forever (v. 2-3). What he promises to them is God’s salvation and eternal life in heaven.
It is always good to know that we have a place to go when we die in this world. When we lose our beloved, we give thanks to God because we know he or she is in a better place with God. But we still wonder how we are going to make it without our beloved. How is it really possible for us to endure all those challenges and trials in the world without our Lord Jesus Christ? This is probably what the disciples were worried about when Jesus said goodbye to them.
As the disciples are deeply concerned about their life without him, Jesus assures them that he is not going to abandon them like a bunch of orphans; he is going to send to them another Advocate who will be with them forever (v. 16). What he promises to them is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
What was true of the disciples is also true of you and me of this day. Without the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, lead us, and protect us, we too will not make it. Without the abiding help of God, no one is able to live faithfully and godly. If we have to do it all in our own power, we will soon find ourselves very exhausted and even give up. As little children of God, we need the Holy Spirit who can guide and help our journey in this rollercoaster-like world.
In the yellow page of a telephone book, you can find all kinds of counselors: marriage counselors, wedding counselors, drug counselors, job counselors, school counselors, etc. Of course, you can always go to listen to them if you need. By the way, what is the purpose of counselors? Do they solve our problems or help us to solve our problems? We all have blocks in our paths to maturity. We all have painful trauma in our emotion, or persistent personality problems, or addictions that prevent us from living a good life. As far as I know, counselors don’t fix our problems (they are not like a mechanic), but help us to overcome them and grow stronger.
Sometimes, when we are in a difficult situation, we pray and hope that God just comes down to fix our problems and make important decisions for us. But this is an immature faith. The Holy Spirit does not solve our problems or make any decision for us, just like any good counselor can’t decide for us. Rather, we must see the Spirit as the “Counselor,” who comes to our side and gives us strength, courage, and wisdom, so we can make difficult or important decisions; and with that help we can solve our problems.
Some of you may be wondering, what if we happen to make a wrong decision because we still have to make decisions for ourselves? We don’t want to be deceived. We don’t want to go on the other way. Yet we want to go and be on the right way. For this, we don’t need to worry about our decision because we have the Spirit. Particularly, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of Truth” (v. 17). Because He is the Spirit of Truth, He will not lead us astray. If we trust and follow Him, we will arrive at truth. Jesus Christ already proclaimed, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” As we belong to Jesus, we are also in the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth (v. 17).
When we follow this holy guide, we are taking in the Spirit of Truth. This Spirit is what helps us to see and respond to God’s grace and love. The Holy Spirit is the One who will take care of us, strengthen us, and lead us in the way we should go. In the wonderful treasured words of the disciple Paul, we may therefore be sure that nothing, “neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come … will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.”
Peace from the Lord
Often in life, there is a stark contrast between the resurrection in heaven and the actual trials in the world. We see it in a fractured economy, in the poor leadership of our government, in the loss of our beloved, in the struggles with our own health issues. Outside in the world, we have been celebrating the most beautiful days. But inside of our life, we have to struggle hard to survive in this world.
In the midst of this troubled life and this uncertain world, Jesus says to all his disciples and us today, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (v. 27). We can have peace even in the midst of the darkest time because we are not alone, not abandoned, not orphaned, and not deceived by anything false from the world. The Risen Christ is always present in our lives to help guide us by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are afraid or when we are in want, let us always remember that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit as our Counselor to advise us, and guide and help us. This is what Jesus promises his disciples and what we should believe. Thanks be to God! Amen!