Easter 6 2018 Confirmation Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 6, 2018
Text and Audio: immanuelhamiltonchurch.com click “sermons”
Full Service Audio: bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship
1 John 5:4-5 (ESV) 4 … everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 
In baptism you were set apart from the multitude of unbelievers to serve God with a fervent spirit and a joyful hope, so that with all believers in God’s promise, you would be declared worthy of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
In baptism God set you apart from the world. He has delivered you from the domain of darkness and transferred you to the kingdom of his beloved Son. You have been marked as a child of God and that is wonderful Good News. But that mark also makes you a target for the devil and the world. Ever since your baptism the devil and the world have been trying to get you out of the flock of the Good Shepherd and drag you back into the darkness. The devil and the world want to slowly erode your faith and mold you so that you conform to the ways of the world. Be on guard. This won’t be obvious. The devil will not appear in a red suit with a pitchfork and ask for you to renounce Jesus and follow Satan. It will be done much more slowly; much more subtly; much more slyly. This is a great spiritual danger because the devil is so delicate and devious, and tragically, so successful in stealing sheep from Jesus’ flock.
One way the devil goes after you is the simple desire you have to want to be normal; to fit in with those around you; to be admired by others. It is very uncomfortable for us to be different, and this pressure to fit in is used by the devil to get you to conform your ways to the ways of the world.
Movies and television and YouTube often try to get you conform your way of thinking to the world’s way of thinking. School should be a place that teaches you how to think, but too often school can be more geared toward telling what to think and getting you to conform your ways to the world’s ways.
The internet is amazing. You can access all of the world’s information from your phone. And yet it too often is used to build for yourself a silo of like-minded people who teach you to hate anyone who disagrees with you. The internet can also be used to anonymously explore lusts and perversions and pull you into thinking that this is normal behavior that you should engage in.
The devil wants you to conform to the ways of the world. The devil wants you to be normal. But what is normal? Being self-centered is normal. Being so over-committed and over-programmed that you do not have time for God or for other people is normal. Being focused on personal success at the expense of others is normal. Arrogant self-righteousness is normal. Hating others is normal. Casual, uncommitted intimacy and all the turmoil and trouble it brings is normal. Broken families are normal. Abusing the weak, poor, and vulnerable is normal. Getting drunk and getting high is normal. Abandoning those you love and care about to pursue your own interests is normal, whether this means leaving your friends in order to sit with the popular kids or leaving your family to seek someone new. It is normal for children to disrespect their parents. It is normal to believe that what you are doing is more important than anything else. It is normal to lie. It is normal to look down on others. Being normal in this life means you are a hateful, angry, selfish, abusive, arrogant liar. The devil wants you to be normal.
It is normal to question the truth of God and that is just what the devil wants. The devil’s first lie is still one of his favorites, “Did God really say?” In our world today you are taught that there is no such thing as truth. There is “your truth” and “my truth” and “their truth”, but no actual truth. Pontius Pilate spoke for our times when he asked Jesus, “What is truth.”
We are taught that the worst thing you could possibly do is believe in actual truth. The world thinks this is awful because to believe in actual truth means that you are judgmental. To believe in actual truth is to believe that some things are true and other things are false. The worst thing you could do is believe that some things are right and other things are wrong. Normal is to believe that nothing is true, nothing is false, nothing is right, nothing is wrong. Nothing is wrong…except to be judgmental.
You are taught that you want to be normal; but that is dangerous when normal means conformity with the ways of the devil and world.
Today we declare once again the truth. The truth. The truth that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.
Today we are here for something radically counter cultural. Today we are going to have five of our eighth grade youth publically declare that they are not normal. Desiree, Ethan, Rebecca, Dale and Dawson are going to declare that they are in rebellion against the devil and all his works and all his ways. They are going to declare belief in God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They will declare belief in the truth of God. They will declare that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. They will declare that this is not a truth; this is the truth. This is radical. This is not normal. To believe that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him is rebellion against the world, and it is the way that Desiree, Ethan, Rebecca, Dale and Dawson will overcome the world. Today is not any kind of ending for these five young people. Today is a day of renewed confession of the truth; a renewed commitment to the continuation of a lifelong battle against the devil and the world and their own sinful desires. Today these five will promise lifelong connection to Jesus through His Body; the Church and through God’s Word and sacraments. Today is the day that these five declare that they are not normal; they are set apart from the world in their baptism. They are set apart to love God and obey his commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. Love God and love your neighbor.
Life as a Christian in this world is not easy. Life as a follower of Jesus believing the Bible to be true will make you quite strange to those around you who are compromising and conforming to the ways of the world. Living as a disciple of the crucified and resurrected Jesus is a call to a life of repentance for all the times you fall into the devil’s trap of being normal. It is a life of humble service to others in a generation that condemns humility as a sign of weakness and desperately encourages self-promotion; self-indulgence, self-glorification, and even self-worship. These five young people today reject the ways of the world and pledge to live their lives delighting in God’s will and walking in God’s ways as they live under the eternal reign of God in this life and in the life to come.
Today we declare once again the truth. The truth. The truth that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. The truth that Jesus is the Christ. The truth that Jesus was baptized in the water of the Jordan River into your sin and the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove. The truth that Jesus took your sin to the cross and shed His holy, precious blood as the payment for your sins. This truth that is for all people; everywhere.
Desiree, Ethan, Rebecca, Dale and Dawson have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They have received the gift of the Holy Spirit which empowers them to make such a bold declaration today. They receive the Body and Blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. The Spirit, the water and the blood all testify to the truth. Jesus is the Son of God. I encourage each one of you to make that declaration with them as the battle lines are drawn once again against the devil and the world and our own self-centeredness. Today you declare once again. I am against the devil and all his works and all his way. I believe in the truth that Jesus is the Christ. (8 AM Service turn to page 12 in bulletin and we declare together.)
1 John 5:4-5 (ESV) 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?