“This is a season of Advent to remind us that God has sent us a Saviour on the day Jesus was born. That is the greatest gift to us!” said Pastor Robert Weniger at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on 11th of December.
Pastor Robert began by telling the story of The Princess Bride (1987), a romantic adventure comedy film about a farm boy named Westley who found Princess Buttercup as his true love. With that, he would answer every request from the princess with “As you wish.”
“Jesus came not only to be our Saviour but also to be our Lord. He came to rule our lives so that we fulfill the purpose He has given us. But unlike Buttercup (of The Princess Bride), Jesus never ask us to do something meaningless. Whenever Jesus asks us to do something, it is to build His church and to show His Love to the lost world.
“The response to Jesus is ‘As you wish’ because we now belong to Him. He calls us to be representatives of Him in this world. We need to represent Him in all areas of our life. When we consider our career plans, we need to listen to His Voice,” shared Pastor Robert.
He added, “Sometimes, it’s not convenient for us or God wants us to do something we have never done before. Our response is ‘As you wish.’ We need to put our money and resources aside for God. He is the Giver of greater gifts.
“We are called to be faithful stewards with the gifts He has given us. Our relationship to those who are close to us and the casual people – the custodian at the place we work or the clerk at the shop – we are not to look at our own interest but the interest of others as well (Philippians 2:4).
“Jesus came to serve and He died for us. He said, ‘Love one another as I have loved you, and love your neighbour as how you love yourself’ (John 13:34-35; Mark 12:31). We need to think about the issues of character, so that the fruit of the Spirit can come in authority in our lives. If there is a deeply seated bitterness, jealousy and selfish pride, it is time to change.
“When Jesus points out an area of character that needs transformation, we should say, ‘As you wish’ because He is Lord. But… if that is all that is to be – just resonating and obeying every command He has given us – we will end up with a lifeless and cold religion. There is more to following Jesus than obeying Him.”
Buttercup in The Princess Bride treated the farm boy in a demeaning way, until she realised every time he said, ‘As you wish’ to her, he actually meant ‘I love you.’ That should characterise our obedience to God.
“We don’t obey Him out of fear or guilt because our guilt is nailed to the cross. We don’t obey Him out of duty because how ‘monarch’ that would be. We don’t obey Him to earn our salvation because Christianity is not work. But our obedience is an expression, a result, of our love for Him, to love Him with all our mind, heart, strength and soul (Luke 10:27). Isn’t it true that when we really love someone, we want to please them and do things for them? We obey out of love. Obedience is the natural result of love (John 14:15).”
“Where does this love come from? Well, we may think, ‘That is going to take a lot of love to naturally respond to God.’ But that doesn’t come from us. It begins from God and what He already gave us. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Our experience grows from the awareness of God’s love for us. He sent His one and only Son, so that we will live through Him. Jesus made Himself nothing, even becoming like a servant, for us,” he shared.
When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the 16th Pope of the Catholic Church in 2005, he told the audience that he did not want to be people. He was hoping instead to spend his remaining years living a quiet life. “At a certain point, I prayed to God, ‘Please don’t do this to me. You have younger, better, more enthusiastic and energetic candidates,’ he shared before the audience in Vatican City before humorously adding, “Evidently, this time He didn’t listen to me.”
“Sometimes, God’s plans for our lives, they can be bigger than anything we have ever imagine. And because it’s so big, it’s kind of daunting and scary or intimidating. We have mistaken that God’s plans for our lives only involves great sacrifice, toil and hardship. But God’s plans for our lives is also grand and glorious, as true as His Plan for Cardinal Ratzinger. God’s plans for our lives are always good though they may not always be what we want to do or what we would have our futures mapped out,” Pastor Robert shared.
He continued, “Come and appreciate the fullness and sheer wonder of God’s sacrificial love for us, so with the love of God, we will respond even as Cardinal Ratzinger did, ‘As you wish.’ For our love for God compels us to please and honour and obey the Lord.
“It’s important to know that we are not the only ones who said these words ‘As you wish.’ Recall the moments before Jesus was crucified. As He was contemplating the horrors and the pain of the cross, He said, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:42).”
In other words, Jesus prayed to the Father, “As you wish.” So Jesus obediently went to the cross and died for our sins. That’s the love that God has for us. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). And that’s our motivation of our obedience to God.
“Let us look at the events that preceded the birth of Jesus. What we see is this attitude of ‘As you wish’. Joseph was engaged to Mary but he learned that Mary was pregnant. He could assume that Mary got pregnant in an immoral way because Mary could not have gotten pregnant in any other way. He was going to divorce her quietly. But before he could do that, he had a dream of an angel who appeared to him saying, “Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20).” He was willing to say to God, ‘As you wish.’
Mary also responded with ‘As you wish’ when angel Gabriel told her that she will conceive and give birth to a son named Jesus (Luke 1:31). Even though she knew she would face the heavy persecution of being pregnant out of wedlock and divorce from Joseph, she said to Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled (Luke 1:38).” So, Mary physically brought fourth the presence of Jesus into this world.
“When we say ‘As you wish’ to God, when we obey God in all that He asks of us, we have the same privilege that Mary has. Not in the physical sense but spiritually we bring the presence of Jesus into this world, because He, through our obedience, ministers His Grace to others. When we say, ‘As you wish’ to our character, our relationship, our morals, our resources and our very life, because Jesus is reigning in our hearts, we bring the Presence of Jesus in every circumstance we are going through.
“Where there is conflict, we bring His Peace. Where there is division, we bring reconciliation. Where there is oppression, we bring justice. Where there is discouragement, we bring hope. Where there is need, we bring assistance. Where there is hatred, we bring love. Where we say ‘As you wish’, we bring the Presence of Jesus into this world,” Pastor Robert Weniger shared.
Mary accepted that privilege to carry the Presence of Jesus into this world, and we can to! In this Christmas season, let us bring the fragrance of Jesus Christ everywhere we go (2 Corinthians 2:15). The greatest present for Christmas is sharing His Presence.
Note: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is the home for a culturally rich and vibrant congregation, which includes local worshippers and worshippers from the expatriate community. Existing as a congregation since 1902, their motto is “All One in Christ Jesus” consisting of worshippers from many nations.
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