For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5 ESV) Our life in the Spirit that sends us out is a life not for self but for Jesus’ sake. This morning at International Lutheran Church we gather to hear God’s Word and be sent by His Spirit to the ends of the earth so that all would know His grace and mercy.

For Jesus’ Sake - Not for our sake. We don’t preach ourselves. This is the most critical difference about the Christian message, and the most challenging. It isn’t about me or you. It is about Jesus. It is about what He has done for us all – His perfect life, His righteous death and His powerful resurrection from death. Ultimately, the message we share is not for our own sake but for His. You and I have a task, a calling in the very faith that we profess.

Yes, we are all called with various vocations to serve our neighbor, but we are also called to share the Good News of God’s forgiving love in and through these ordinary callings. The Old Testament and Gospel lessons give us a good example of this as they bring up the Third Commandment – Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. The Sabbath rest is for us all – even as it was specific for the people of God to remember how God brought them out of servitude in Egypt to a life of freedom, even more so the Christian’s life of freedom won for us in and through the death of Jesus to bring us out of servitude to sin and death into His eternal, complete rest.

Our Sabbath rest is in hearing God’s Word as Luther interprets this commandment in the Small Catechism – not slavery to a certain day, or moon or season, but to the life-giving Word of God that spoke into existence the entire creation and then pronounced it good and holy with His own rest on the Seventh Day. This is what “preaching Jesus” means – demonstrating as clearly as possible what God has done for us in Him, how He has forgiven us, and brought us into a freed state, a state of rest and renewal. But people can’t see that unless they see it in us.

For Jesus’ Sake - Light in the darkness. This is why Paul tells the church of Corinth that God’s act to create all things in the beginning did not just stop there but carries on in them. God’s light in the darkness is His light in you and me! It is not because we were God’s friends, His devoted ones, that He saved us, but just the opposite. As Peter puts it, we all had a hand in His death. Our sin and darkness put Him on the tree. But this is how the message we share is not just a lot of propositions and theories. No, it is personal to each and every one of us who has been baptized into His name. For each of us who hears and believes the words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” we are the object of His creation and reconciliation. Like the children of Israel, we too are not to forget our place.

For Jesus’ Sake – In jars of clay! This power of God is displayed in our lives for this very fact, that even through our weaknesses His power would be displayed all the more as from Him and not from us. Today at ILC we are celebrating the sending nature of not just this congregation but our life of faith in a God who works through you and me to demonstrate His love for all. You and I are sent each day, and now for some of us, to places we have never been “for Jesus’ sake.” Not because we are powerful, or have it all together, but especially in our frail and obvious cracks so that His love is not embellished by ourselves, but resides solely in Him.

No matter where we go, where we live or work, we live for Him who set us to be free that we would be servants of all.

Pastor Carl