The Heart to Mouth Connection
by Rev. Bob Clark
August 13, 2017
Text: Romans 10:5-15, Matthew 14:22-33
In the Genesis creation story Adam and Eve, after eating the forbidden fruit, realized they were naked, but they also realized they had done something wrong, and they knew God was looking for them. So, they hid. Are any of us reminded of our own childhood when we did something we weren't supposed to do and hid from our searching parents?
Let me read directly from the Genesis account.
"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you!' He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked. So I hid.'
And he said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?'"
(And then begins the blame game)
They were afraid!
From the beginning fear is part of the human experience.
And, there seems to be no limit to our fears.
In a Peanuts cartoon strip Charlie Brown goes to Lucy for a nickels worth of psychiatric help. She proceeds to pinpoint his particular fear. Perhaps, she says, you have HYPENGYOPHOBIA, which is the fear of responsibility. Charlie Brown says, No. Well, perhaps you have AILUROPHOBIA, which is the fear of cats. No. Well, maybe you have CLIMACOPHOBIA, which is the fear of staircases. No. Exasperated, Lucy says well, perhaps you have PANTOPHOBIA, which is the fear of everything. Yes, says Charlie Brown, that's the one.
Would you like a little test this morning?
I looked up PHOBIAS, and I got "The 15 Most Common Phobias That Frighten People." If you know the answer, just shout it out.
ARACHNOPHOBIA - fear of spiders.
OPHIDIOPHOBIA - fear of snakes.
ACROPHOBIA - fear of heights.
NECROPHOBIA - fear of dead things.
CYNOPHOBIA - fear of dogs.
CLAUSTROPHOBIA - fear of confined spaces.
COULROPHOBIA - fear of clowns.
PEDIOPHOBIA - fear of dolls.
HEMOPHOBIA - fear of blood.
GLOSSAPHOBIA - fear of public speaking.
NYCTOPHOBIA - fear of the dark.
TRYPANOPHOBIA - fear of needles.
AGORAPHOBIA - fear of situations where it may be difficult to find help.
PTEROMERHANOPHOBIA - fear of flying.
MYSOPHOBIA - fear of germs.
These are all common fears. Amazing!
Last Sunday evening there were five of us who did a prayer walk: Chris and Linda Mowrer, Pam Whittom and Isaiah, and me. Linda, Isaiah and I went one direction, and Pam and Chris went the other direction. Now, I tell this story with Pam's permission. As we sat together in MJ's Study talking about how we were going to do this, Pam said that she wasn't sure just how good she was going to be. Then she told us that just before coming to the church she had picked up something off the ground and a whole nest of snakes came slithering out. Startled, she leaped and scrambled away, and in the process tripped and went down, at least bruising, if not cracking some ribs. She was hurting. Now, I don't think she has OPHIDIOPHOBIA, but she sure doesn't like snakes. God love her, she went on the prayer walk with Chris at a slower pace, and two blocks instead of three or four.
I want to go back to Genesis for a second. You know there are two creation stories in Genesis. The second one is the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and the first one starts the Book of Genesis.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."
How do you feel about THE DEEP?
"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
THE DARK. THE DEEP. THE HOVERING SPIRIT OF GOD!
Put yourself in that boat with the Apostles - in the dark, on the turbulent deep - when they saw something coming over the waters. You bet they were scared - out of their skulls! You bet they screamed! And, Jesus, hearing them, calls out to them, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Their hearts were full of fear, so what came out of their mouths was a cry.
Peter, God love him, in what appears to be an attempt to rise above his fear, calls out, "Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water." To which Jesus says "Come."
I just love this story.
Peter steps out of the boat and actually takes a few steps on the water. Then he takes his eyes off the Master, checks out the turbulence, and realizing he's in over his head, he begins to sink. (Ever been there, friends?)
He cries out, "Lord, save me!" Which the Lord does with the admonishment, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Well, I know why he doubted. It was because of the fear gripping his heart.
They get back in the boat. The wind died down, and they worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God!"
At that point, did they even know what exactly that meant, that Jesus was the Son of God? Did they know what that meant when he died on a cross? I don't think so! Did they know what that meant when Mary told them about the empty tomb, and they ran and saw with their own eyes? Again, I don't think so. They still had a lot of doubt and fear in their hearts.
I'll tell you exactly when they knew that Jesus was the Son of God and they knew exactly what that meant. It was at PENTECOST when the Holy Spirit touched their hearts, filling them with faith and love and opening their mouths with the Good News of the Living Christ and their witness to Him as His Church.
Faith is the antidote to doubt, and love is the antidote to fear.
1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear "
There is not a one of us who does not have some doubts.
Do we have more faith?
There is not a one of us who does not have some fears. Do we have more love?
What is in our hearts eventually comes out of our mouths.
I worked with someone once who was a pretty big deal as a business executive, but in his heart, he held genuine contempt for people. It eventually came out.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul expresses in Chapter ten some concern for his Jewish friends who had become Christians, but who still believe they needed to hang onto their Jewish laws and practices in order to be righteous.
"If you confess with your mouth that 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
In other words, both are necessary: the heart to mouth connection, and your salvation is through faith in the living Christ and not by working to fulfill the law.
Christ, in fact, is the fulfillment of the law, and if we trust him and love from our hearts God and one another we have fulfilled the law, and we are free.
One final thing. The Church is that boat out there on a world of turbulent waters, (repeat) and we are the Disciples in that boat, gathered here this very morning to worship God in the Name of his Son. Like Peter, we hear his call to step out and rise above the chaos. And, sometimes, it's scary. And sometimes we have that sinking feeling. But like Peter, who called out, "Lord, save me!" we eventually have enough love and faith in our hearts to call out to Jesus, knowing, not doubting, but knowing that he will not let us go - but that, indeed, he saves us.
Thanks be to God, who calls us into his house to worship and who also calls us out into the world to witness.