Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Teaching’

Don’t Point the Finger 4-2-15 Maundy Thursday

This evening’s Maundy Thursday sermon came from John 13:1-12, 20-35. This is John’s account of the Last Supper including the footwashing and I also included the exchange between Jesus and Judas. Though John’s account is typically not associated with the sacraments, I explore some sacramental themes.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/dont-point-the-finger-4-2-15-maundy-thursday

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
I am guessing that by now, most of you have figured out that I am NOT…a sports guy. I’m just not, and I’m okay with that. If its not a little white ball with dimples then I just do not pay attention…but I am constantly surrounded by people who are…and it always strikes me as funny when someone attempts a conversation with me in and around sports related situations.
Admittedly I struggle to understand it…its not that I don’t care…its just that I don’t understand it…but I always try my best to engage…and to cover my complete lack of knowledge of just what they are talking about…My son is one of them…and he covers random information on pretty much every sport out there…baseball…football…and right now the big one is of course, college basketball. I’m impressed by his knowledge…I am, I just don’t get it…and another one that will often engage with me is Dick Miller…bringing up the current news of Iowa State athletics…and though I never really pay attention to the games…I can always rest assured that Dick will keep me abreast of what’s going on.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the interaction, and I certainly appreciate the individual’s passion for whatever sport they are talking about…but its just not something I share…and because of that, I often times fail to wrap my head around whatever big news is going on in the sports world…and that was never so evident to me…especially in this part of the country…on a specific date last fall…November 30th, 2014…the date that news went public that the University of Nebraska…had fired…Bo Pelini…the head coach of the Huskers football team.
Apparently, no one else was shocked by this news…but it caught me off guard…because I couldn’t understand why…Pelini had coached the Huskers from 2008-2014…and during that time they had a record of 67 wins and 27 loses…and to me at least…that seems pretty positive…at least 9 wins every year…qualifying for bowl games…each and every year…so what was the problem? (pause)
Admittedly, I tend to ask this question whenever news breaks of some head coach of a college team or a pro team gets the boot…because I just do not understand why one person gets the blame when things don’t go quite right. Granted, I know that there are aspects to being the head coach that are far reaching…but it’s a team…its not one person…and so I ask the question…time after time…of why does this one person get such a bad wrap? (pause)
And that question right there…that is where Bo Pelini and fired head coaches connects into tonight’s gospel lesson. (pause) Here we are…Maundy Thursday…on the verge of the Passion…standing on the precipice of Jesus betrayal and arrest and torture and death…and in our story for tonight, we hear a snippet of the final meal that Jesus would share with those 12 men that he loved so much…those 12 men who were his disciples…those 12 men…who were his mission here on Earth. (pause)
And those 12 men included one that we like to single out don’t we? You know who I’m talking about…Judas Iscariot…Judas the betrayer…the one that would hand Jesus over to the authorities…none of the Gospels make any great secret about this…and understandably so, because they were all written after the fact…and likewise we share the benefit of hindsight…of knowing the full story…and so whenever we hear about Judas, perhaps we grimace just a little bit…and we judge him…we point the finger at him. (pause)
Now just a few days ago…last Sunday morning…our gospel was the Triumphal Entry as Jesus comes riding into the Jerusalem to the cheers of the city…and we heard in Mark’s account that there was zero opposition…and we explored the difficult nature of this reality…that there was no one that we could point out…no one that we could call out…no one that could take the moniker of Bad Guy…therefore taking the pressure off of every other person who would also go on to turn their backs on Jesus…but now…we hear differently don’t we. (pause)
Now we have someone to single out…someone to point the finger at…and even the text makes no qualms about it…because we hear immediately at the beginning of the story…the beginning of John’s account of the Last Supper that the devil had ALREADY…put it in the heart of Judas to betray Jesus…and not only do we know it…but Jesus knew it too…because he knew now that his hour had finally come…and that he was about to depart from the world…and despite that reality…Jesus willingly walked into this time with his disciples…this final time to teach them…to share time with them…to love them…even knowing full well…that Judas was among them…knowing that evil lurked among them. (pause)
And now…the Last Supper…it’s a great story isn’t it? One that’s familiar…though as per usual John’s account gives us some differences when compared to the other three…The overall length of the Last Supper in John is remarkably longer, as Jesus addresses the disciples over the course of chapters 13-17…commonly known as the farewell discourse…and in addition, we also hear the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples…taking the role of the servant and humbling himself to show them the lengths that God is willing to go in order to be in relationship with those that he loves. (pause)
But regardless of the various stories…I think for most of us…when we think about the Last Supper…our minds tend to shift over to thoughts that are a little more sacramental in nature…as well they should…because in the context of the Last Supper we hear familiar words, not here in John but in the other accounts…that in the night in which he was betrayed he took bread and broke it and gave it to his disciples. (pause)
You know these words…we hear them in worship on a regular basis…and we will hear them again later on this evening as we prepare ourselves for Holy Communion…the time when God uses simple things like bread and wine along with his promises to come to us and assure us that Jesus will endure his body being broken and his blood poured out for you…for the forgiveness of sins. (pause)
That’s the direction that our minds often go when we think of the Last Supper…and it is understandable that many congregations will highlight Communion within the context of Maundy Thursday…tonight is a night when many young people will experience their first communion around the world…sharing along with the disciples…their first experience with the body and blood of Jesus. (pause)
And perhaps if we consider John’s account, including the washing of the disciples feet, then our minds will slip over to thinking about baptism as well…and rightly so…for that is a time when we believe that God washes us clean from the power of sin and death…just as Jesus washes the dirt away from those that he loved. (pause)
But now here’s the thing…within the story that we shared tonight…taken from John’s account…we have to try pretty hard to find much evidence of the sacraments…but…they…are…there…if we take the time to look for them. (pause)
Within the familiar passage of the footwashing, we hear that Jesus approaches Peter as he makes his way around the table…and after initial resistance, Peter asks that Jesus wash his hands and head…in short he is saying “Jesus…please wash all of me” which would be very similar to the request to be baptized, which in those days was full emersion…yet Jesus tells him…Peter, you are already clean…if I say it is so, then it is so…and just as we are washed in the waters of our own baptisms…we hear the promise from God that we are cleansed from our sinful selves. (pause)
But what about communion…where do we find that? Well, when Jesus begins telling his disciples that his heart is troubled…because there is one among you that will betray me…they ask him who it will be…and he tells them that the one that I give this bread is the one…and he takes a piece of bread…broken from a loaf…and he dips it…and you can pretty much bet that he dipped it in wine…because that’s what they drank in his day…and when he had done this…he handed it to Judas. (pause)
The only hint we have of Communion in John’s account of the Last Supper is Judas…the one who is about to betray Jesus…the one who the devil has already singled out…the one who personifies the presence of evil here during this holy time…Judas is the one to receive the bread and wine…and Judas had his feet washed by Jesus as well. (pause)
And isn’t that telling? Tonight as we look forward to the passion…the anguish in the garden and his arrest that happen yet tonight…the trial and the torture and his death on the cross which happens tomorrow…we are on the verge, yet Jesus shows his love for us tonight by offering the means of God’s grace to the very one who would inevitably betray him. (pause)
And now what does that tell us about God’s grace? (pause) If he is willing to offer it to the one who he flat out knows will reject it and betray him…then we see that when we are offered the grace of God…the promise that we are washed clean from the power of sin and that through his body and blood we receive the forgiveness of sins…we see that surely this promise is true…because the grace of God is that big…he’ll offer it to the one who personifies evil…and likewise he offers it to us…even though we know within our hearts that the darkness that consumed Judas also resides right here. (pause)
On Sunday we had no one to blame…no one to point the finger at…because no one opposed Jesus…but by tomorrow…everyone has turned their back on him…including us…and so tonight…rather than point the finger at the easy target…we realize that we need the grace of God just as much as he does…and praise be to God that He is willing to give it to us…simply because he loves us too much not to. Amen.

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Confirmation Questions 2-23-14

Last Sunday’s sermon came from Matthew 5:38-48. In it I tried to wrap up 4 weeks worth of Sermon on the Mount focus as well as discussing the notion that we are able to join with God in the work that God is doing in the world. You can find that sermon here.

The confirmation students posed the following questions on their sermon notes. I’ll attempt to answer them.

-Why would Jesus tell a person to give up more (in the context of giving someone asking for your shirt both your shirt and your cloak)?
This is a great question…and honestly one that doesn’t make a great deal of sense, especially at face value. It is strange to wonder why Jesus tells us to go above and beyond what is being asked of us. In this context, its also important to note that the language of the text indicates that if someone is suing you for your shirt…a strange notion to us, but it implies the idea of property…Perhaps what Jesus is saying here is that if someone takes legal action against you, don’t give them the minimum, but go above and beyond. Make sure that you are not shorting them in how you respond. A difficult teaching to be sure, and honestly one that leaves me scratching my head as well. Perhaps, in the end, Jesus’ main point here is that we are always to go above and beyond for the sake of our neighbor, even those who are acting in a negative way towards us. For Jesus, this took him all the way to the cross…because he was so self-sacrificial…everything he did was for the benefit of others. We are called to mirror this attitude.
-Why does Jesus constantly fail to make sense with some things that he says?
This is another great question…and one that I tend to ask myself often, particularly in situations where I’m trying to figure out how to preach on a difficult text. My first thought on this question is that our failure to really understand either what he’s saying or why he’s saying it speaks to the utterly drastic change that Jesus has brought into our reality. The kingdom of heaven is so radically different that we simply cannot always understand it. And Jesus knows that…Sometimes we get the benefit of his explanation into what he’s talking about, but we really have that in this particular instance.  Sometimes in moments like this, when we find ourselves confused by Jesus’ teaching, we can only pray for understanding and ask for forgiveness when we fail to follow what he says. And then one day, when we encounter Christ, then we can ask him what he was talking about.

Who Is the Church For

Here is my sermon for Sunday September 1st in both text and audio form. The gospel lesson for the week is Luke 14: 1,7-14. Jesus instructs us to invite those that have no way of repaying us.

Hear the sermon here:
http://soundcloud.com/revdalen/who-is-church-for-9-1-13

Here is the text file. As usual, disregard the strange punctuation and the indications to pause. I’ve gotta remind myself of that somehow.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…Amen
Several different times over the course of the past two months, I’ve had the opportunity to show people around the church…most recently, just last Sunday when Bishop Prois from the Western Iowa Synod was here to preach and preside over my installation as pastor.
Each and every time I’ve shown people around, they have expressed wonder at the beauty of our church, and particularly our sanctuary. Go ahead, take a look around. (pause) The walls are nicely painted, the plush carpet and pew cushions add color. The ceiling is wonderfully stained woodwork. We have very fine examples of wood carving along the walls. The alter is beautiful…truly, we have a sanctuary worth being proud of…worth inviting people in to see.
Our church is a place that we are excited to show off. We love to invite people in…and we love to play host to them…well, most of the time anyway.
A week ago, I bumped into one of those times where I wasn’t quite so excited to be the host…and the invitation, felt a little forced.  A week ago Friday, I got the phone call that I was dreading. The phone call that I knew was going to happen sooner or later.
I was sitting in my office, and when I picked up the phone, I was greeted, very enthusiastically, by an individual that was stranded in Underwood along with his wife…and he was looking for help. As he explained his situation to me over the phone…I experienced a single emotion…panic…
How could I help this guy? What could I do? (pause) On one hand, I felt like I needed to offer some sort of assistance, but on the other hand, we know that we need to be careful in situations such as this, and I was hesitant to involve the church…and in what was likely the first of many epic fails in my ministry…I stalled. I had the guy’s phone number and I told him I would call him back.
I spent the next hour or so trying to contact community service organizations…thinking that if I could just find the right contact person, I could call him back with a phone number…and I could pull myself out of the situation having helped…but without having to do very much.
It didn’t work…try as I might I couldn’t connect with anyone that could offer this guy the help he needed…and I knew that after he ate the lunch that a kindly stranger had been nice enough to buy, that he and his wife would be walking over to the church, hoping that I would be able to help them out in some way.
In the end, that’s exactly what happened. They came to the church…they came in my office…told me their story once again…and when it got right down to it, I couldn’t turn them away. I gave them a ride out to the Underwood Motel next to I-80, and I paid for a room for them for the night.
We ended up in the office of the motel, having a conversation with the manager, and in the midst of that conversation, the man said to me. “Well pastor, I know where your church is now. If we’re ever coming through here on a Sunday, I’ll swing in for worship.” That was the end of the conversation, and he walked out of the office to his room. As I was driving back into town, I found myself praying for the man. Praying that the ride that was supposed to be coming his way the next morning would make it…and in my second epic pastor fail, praying that he wouldn’t still be around, come Sunday morning.
I found myself wondering what the response would be from all of us if he and his wife walked into the church for worship in their unwashed clothes and slightly uncivilized manor…and I found myself wondering what the Bishop would think, and if it would mess up his first impression of our church.
Admittedly, not my finest moment, and as your pastor I ask for your forgiveness for harboring a very non-pastoral attitude, even if I didn’t express that attitude in the face of man.
But regardless of how that situation played out, it does raise the question…just who are we willing to invite into our church? That seems to be the question that Jesus is discussing in today’s Gospel lesson…and it’s a question that I’ve been pondering on a lot in the last week…Just who is church really for?
One of the activities that has been going on recently has been cottage meetings. I’ve met with quite a few of you already, and one of the things that we’ve talked about has been how you as individuals came to Underwood Lutheran in the first place.  Many of you were born and raised here…but many of you also came into the church as an outsider and almost unanimously I’ve heard these individuals comment that they were enthusiastically welcomed into the church…welcomed into worship…and welcomed into the congregation…As a newcomer myself, I can also offer that reaction.
But what if I was a different person? What if I wasn’t Pastor Scott…and I didn’t have a suit on? What if I was homeless…and hadn’t had a bath in awhile…what if I was scruffy…and my clothes were rumbled and dirty from constant wear without being cleaned? Would I still be welcomed? Would I still be fawned over?  Would I have been invited, last Sunday following worship, to walk downstairs and share in the fabulous meal put on by several of our church ladies? Would church…be for me then?
In today’s story, Jesus is sitting at a banquet…he’s a guest…but the way he takes over the scene, leading the conversation…you’d think he was the host of the gathering…but then, that’s how Jesus tends to operate. Especially in Luke’s gospel, we often see Jesus, gathering around a table to eat and drink and be merry with the people that he’s interacting with…and it irritates some people.
Jesus is called a glutton and a drunkard…apparently when he hits the tailgate party…he likes to eat a lot and have a few cold ones…hmmm, I’ve got those same tendencies myself…anyone else?
But apparently that’s not Jesus’ only problem when it comes to hosting a party. His guest list also seems to be suspect. He eats with sinners…he welcomes the unwelcomed…and here in today’s story, he tells us to do the exact same thing.
“When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed because they cannot repay you.” Perhaps at first glance, this seems easy to absorb. Of course, Jesus is telling us to care for the poor. That’s a no brainer…until we think about it…or until we’re faced with it…and in situations just like I faced last week…how often to do we follow through with the invitation…how often do we really care for these people that Jesus himself cares so passionately about?
Well perhaps we fool ourselves into thinking that it doesn’t really apply to us. Maybe we are helpful when faced with a situation of someone in need…but we don’t go looking for it when we aren’t faced with it. Does that count? Is our attitude good enough. Well, it would seem here, that Jesus is telling us no…its not good enough.
Because Jesus instructs us to go out and invite the undesirables…the ones that have nothing to offer back to us. (pause)
And so I pose this question to you. Who are the undesirables? Who is the church for? (pause)
Perhaps its easy to sit and think…us…its for all of us…well no…sorry…the church is not here for you…because when we think about it for a moment, we remember that we ARE the church. WE ARE the body of Christ on Earth…and as such, we have something to offer. And that thing that we have to offer is the invitation to the other that Jesus is talking about.
Each and every one of us as a member of the body of Christ is called to go out into the world and invite those that have nothing to offer, just as we were once invited…because you know what…at one time or another, you were the outsider…you were the other who had nothing to offer the host of the banquet…and I’m not talking about some fancy dinner party here…but rather I’m talking about the host of the heavenly banquet. God himself.
We have been invited, by God himself, into eternity…into life ever lasting…into the heavenly party that is beyond all of our understanding…but we have no way of paying the entry fee…none of us do…but God invited us anyway. Broken as we are, dirty as we may be…sinful as we are, with nothing to offer our host beyond our gratitude were still invited by Jesus Christ into that banquet. Each and every one of you, when you were named and claimed by God in baptism was invited….You were the poor….you were the crippled…you were the lame…and you were the blind…but you were still invited.
And that, my friends, is what we are called to do. Not only to, quite literally, invite everyone to come and see…to come and hear this good news of Jesus Christ…but also to be the hands and feet of our Lord here on Earth. We are the body of Christ….WE…ARE…THE CHURCH. It’s not here for us…It IS…US.
But as I raise that point I also feel the question coming on, “So what do we do with that?” Do we need to go out and find the homeless and bring them to Underwood Lutheran? Do we need to empty the church bank accounts to feed the hungry or stock the local food banks? Is that what we’re supposed to do?
Well, to be perfectly honest…I don’t know? I don’t know what God is calling each of you to do…but I do know this…God’s going to bring the uninvited into your path…so how are you going to respond to that situation?
Are you going to brush it off…or are you going to take a long look at that person…and see them as God sees them…a beloved child of God…and someone who, just like you, has no way to repay our Heavenly Host for the banquet that has invited us all…into?  Amen

Jesus Wants To Break Up Your Family

This is my sermon from Sunday August 18th. The Gospel reading is Luke 12: 49-56 in which Jesus tackles division. You can hear the sermon here:

https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/jesus-wants-to-break-up-your

Here is the word file if you’d like to follow along that way. As usual, disregard the weird punctuation and indications to pause. I gotta remember them somehow.

Once I had answered my colleague, he responded to me…preach on this (pause) Jesus just wants to break up your family. (pause) I laughed at first…and was still laughing about it when I got off the phone with him…until I thought about it for a moment and realized that he was serious.
Fast forward a few minutes, and I was sitting behind my desk, thinking about how in the world I could possibly turn that into a sermon. I had a music app called Pandora playing in the office, piping songs into the background, when all of the sudden, this theme song broke through.
(Play the Mission Impossible Theme song on the piano)
Do any of you recognize that theme? Mission Impossible. A popular spy themed tv show from the 60’s and 80’s and now a series of popular movies starring none other than Tom Cruise.
Mission Impossible…the very premise of the show indicated the task that I was facing. Find some good news in the idea…that Jesus is going to break up your family…division, in the ranks.
Well, it happens doesn’t it? Division in families. Division in general. It’s nothing new is it? There’s this funny thing built into our DNA…individuality. Just like your fingerprints, you are unique to you. There is no one else on the planet, and there never has been, and there never will be…another person just like you…and with that wondrous variety in the world…with that amazing individuality that defines each and every member of the human race…with that amazing gift given to us by God in creation…we have the ability…and tendency…for opinion.
(pause) And those opinions vary don’t they?  Parents…you have kids?  Then you know what I’m talking about. Kids, you have siblings? You know what I’m talking about.  Everyone else out there…got a coworker? Chances are…you know what I’m talking about.
The ability to formulate an opinion is a marvelous gift…but by its very nature, it creates the dilemma of choice…and by forming an opinion, by forming an interpretation of a situation…by making a choice, we are dividing ourselves from the opposite side of the situation.
Each and every time we make a definitive decision, regardless of the question…regardless of the issue…we are alienating those that are on the other side. Sometimes this alienation is friendly. It could be as simply as “do you like winter or summer better.” If I put that question to a poll right now and each of you raised your hands to answer…I seriously doubt that anyone would start arguing in the aisle about who was right and who was wrong. (pause)
But not every question is as simple and innocent as winter vs summer…and as we look back through history…we can see example after example of situations that didn’t turn out quite so friendly.  All too many examples turned out bloody. Jacob and Esau…remember those guys…offspring of Adam and Eve…they quarreled over the best way to honor God…and in the 2nd generation of humanity…murder was invented. As society grew and developed, there were disputes over territory…and resources…and war became a scary reality.
In the last 100 years alone there have been countless wars around the world…and several of you in this room have been directly affected by that reality…WW1 and 2…Korea…Vietnam…Desert Storm…Iraq…Afghanistan…the War on Terror…and those are just the ones that we’ve been in on directly. Disputes…battles…over ideals…over opinions…and the differences that individuals make of those opinions.  How many lives lost? How many families torn up and destroyed…and not just of our soldiers…but all of the lives affected and torn apart around the world….because we have different ideals.
It’s a sobering thought isn’t it…and the church isn’t immune to it either. When we look back through the last 2000 years…we find that our own history is dotted with just as many “family squabbles” as the rest of history.  The book of Acts alone is full of disputes. Paul speaks of more in his various letters…and they were all written within the first 50-100 years of Christ.
As time marches on, we see more disputes. Constant councils and opinions over doctrine…constant fights centered on the notion that “we’re right and you’re wrong.” A big one happened about the year 1000, when eastern orthodoxy split off from the Roman Catholic church because they couldn’t decide where the center of church power was.
Then 500 years later…the Roman Catholic church experienced another family squabble that perhaps we’re a little more aware off…It centered around this guy named Martin…seems like they named a denomination after him or something…but even the reformers couldn’t get their act together…and their differing opinions led to countless denominational splits. Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Christian Reformed…
Even when we start to narrow the microscope, we find it doesn’t get any better…Look at Lutheran history…our family tree can be best described as a weeping willow…countless divisions centered around doctrine, or nationality, or practices, or whatever have led to more splits than you can shake a stick at…and if we look at the Lutheran landscape today…especially here in America we find countless variations…each with their own opinions about what’s right and what’s not…and we can go farther than that.
Something tells me, that if we chose a subject, and sat down to debate it…we’d quickly find ourselves at odds with each other…because we all interpret things differently. We all make our own judgment calls about what’s right and what’s not…and in the end…we fail to agree. As I said before, it can happen with pleasant conversation…or it can happen with heated debate…or sometimes in an extreme case someone picks up a gun…or they set off a bomb…or they hijack a plane and knock down a building.
It’s true my friends…we live in a world where different opinions can be a matter of life or death…and for many individuals out there…it is exactly that dire…and in today’s scripture lesson Jesus himself tells us that he didn’t come to bring peace…He came to bring this very division that we’ve been talking about.
But how can that be? We hear in so many places that God is a God of Love…that Jesus came to bring peace and not the sword so what’s up with this passage?  Just what is it about Jesus that offends? What is it about Jesus that is so decisive that we find ourselves split from person to person, even within families?
What is it about his message that is so hot button? Well, it’s amazingly simple…yet devastating at the same time. Forgiveness of sins…(pause). It is that simple…but simple as it is…its not easy…it comes at a cost and Jesus hints at it in today’s story. I have a baptism with which to be baptized…and what stress I am under until it is completed…does that sound a little familiar?
Can you think of another time when Jesus talks about being stressed…maybe to the point of sweating…maybe to the point of sweating blood?  In a bit of foreshadowing Jesus is telling us here how much stress is upon him to complete the work that God has given him.
Jesus came to Earth for the sole purpose of sacrificing his own life as a ransom for many. God himself came to Earth to accomplish that which we could not do…atonement for sin…that sin that separates us from God…a reality of separation that God himself could not bear for his beloved creation…and so God chose to do something about it…we couldn’t get up there so he came down here.
We hear the famous words in John’s Gospel that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  And that right there…reassuring as it may be for some of us…is a huge tripping point for others…because there are those out there that don’t believe…there are those out there than simply cannot wrap their heads around this reality.  There are those out there than want to believe…but doubt creeps in…questions come in and sometimes there just aren’t good answers to those questions.  There are bad things that happen in the world…like all those wars that I mentioned earlier…and acts of terrorism…and natural disasters…things happen that make us question how a God who supposedly loves us so much can allow stuff like this to happen.
And you know what…there are no good answers to those questions and because of that, there are individuals out there that chose to turn their backs on all things spiritual…and it’s not a small group of people.
The single biggest group of religious affiliation in the US today is the nones…as in “no affiliation” or more specifically…religion…I’ll have NONE of it.
And they chose…not to believe….or perhaps we can say that their hearts are hardened…or that the Holy Spirit hasn’t acted in their understanding…or countless other reasons or opinions…but whatever the cause…there are those that do not believe…and I believe that this is what Jesus was talking about…if you believe in Christ as savior, then the Bible says that you will be saved…period…end of story…but not everyone believes it. And this is the reality that we face. (pause)
But you know what…we don’t face it alone…There is one that also faces this reality with us…one that understands our reality so much better than we do…one that created it…and one that I believe mourns the divided, messy, opinionated state that the world currently experiences. And that is God himself and I believe that God mourns this present reality so much that he got into it.
That’s why Christ came down…not only to point out this division…but to fix it. I don’t know how it all works…all I know is that I trust that it will. I trust it when I hear someone say that one day EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord….but until that day…I worry…and I pray…I worry and I pray about those people in my life that fall on the other side of the line. I pray for those people that do not understand…that do not believe….and I think we all do…I think we all have those people in our lives that we just don’t know about…and if you don’t have a person like that in your life then chances are you are that person for someone else.
I don’t bring this up to be antagonistic…only to point out the reality that we face in the world today…a reality that seems insurmountable for us…but it’s not up to us…and I believe it when I stand up here in front of you and proclaim with the authority of Christ that you are forgiven of your sins…and I believe that Christ is big enough to forgive the sins of each and every person in all of history…even if I don’t understand how.
So yes, it’s true. Christ came to bring division…but he also came to overcome it. May we all pray for the day when it is finished. Amen