Summary: The end does not justify the means. God is interested more in our motives tahn what we set out to achieve
Ash Wednesday 2014TSL and WSMM 05-03-2014
Story: A Korean Pastor told me this story many years ago, when he came to Switzerland and spoke at a Christian meeting in Sandoz, a Swiss company for which I used to work.
In the 4th century AD in Korea a man had two sons.
The elder rose to become Chief Justice in the land and the younger became an infamous bandit.
The elder brother loved his younger brother but was unable to persuade him to change his ways.
Eventually the younger son was caught and brought to Court before his brother, the Chief Justice.
Everyone in the courtroom thought it would be a stitch up and that the younger brother would get off - because it was well known that the Chief Justice loved his younger brother.
But at then end of the trial, the Chief Justice sentenced his brother to the mandatory sentence for murder - death.
People gasped in the courtroom
On the day of the execution, the elder brother came to the prison and said to his brother “Let’s swap places”.
The younger brother agreed - thinking that once they realised that it was the elder brother, the execution would not go forward.
So he went up on the hill overlooking the prison to watch proceedings.
His brother was brought out at dawn and to his horror executed.
Filled with remorse, the younger brother ran down the hill.
He hammered on the gates of the prison, told the guards his name and that he was the criminal who should have been executed.
The guards however replied:
“There is no sentence outstanding on anyone with that name”
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent when we prepare for the Church’s most important festival – Easter
It is a time for reflection and prayer.
It is for many of us a very PRIVATE time as we seek God in the quietness of our room
And I was intrigued by the epistle reading set for today: 2 Cor 5:20—6:10.
And I would like to reflect on 2 Cor 6:21
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In it, Paul tells us that - in the same way as there was no longer any sentence outstanding against the younger brother – so it is with us.
In God’s sight - because to the death of Jesus, there is no sentence outstanding.
But St Paul reminds us that the reason for Jesus’ death on the Cross was
"that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
There is a cost to being a Christian.
We are called to become the righteousness of God.
Just think of that for a minute
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
What a thought for Lent.
HOW CAN I BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
If you work that our please let me know!!!
Ask God in your quiet time WHAT it means for YOU
I can touch on only SOME aspects of what it means
It talks of our CHARACTER
What motivates us?
The END does NOT in the Christain vocabulary justify the MEANS
Jesus in our Gospel reading goes straight to the point
Christians are called to be righteous in CHARACTER
We are called not to do GOOD things from wrong MOTIVES.
Otherwise the HEAVENLY conclusion will not be what you want.
Matt 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness
- yes that is the GOOD thing
"in front of others to be seen by them."
- That is the BAD Motive
"If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
- That is the heavenly conclusion
Jesus says a similar thing a second time in our Gospel
Matt 6: 5 “And when you pray, "
- That is the GOOD thing
"do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others."
- That is the BAD motive
"Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."
- That is the HEAVENLY conclusion
You might say: It was easy for Paul to say that we should become the righteousness of God – but did he walk the talk? What did it cots him?:
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 we read some of the hardships Paul went through for the Gospel – so that you and me can sit here in church today – worshipping God. Paul writes:
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.
24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,