Summary: Do we beleive that the Risen Christ is more than willing and able to save even us, even us?
"Crazy on a Ship of Fools"
By Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace UMC, Soddy Daisy, TN
I remember reading the morning paper way back in June of 1994.
The lead story was about the murder of O.J. Simpson’s wife…which had happened the day before.
This was the first I had heard of O.J. Simpson in a long time.
I remembered, as a young kid, watching him in those Hertz commercials—running through the airport and hurdling people and baggage in order to get “somewhere?”
I remembered his smiling face, and his outgoing personality.
I vaguely remembered watching him play for the San Francisco 49ers…but that was long after his hey-day.
And I knew he had been in some movies I’d seen…although I couldn’t name them.
Other than that, I had a very good impression of the man.
Everybody seemed to have a good impression of the smiling Simpson.
On the day I read about his wife’s murder in the newspaper, it never even occurred to me that he could be the killer.
He just didn’t look the part.
He was too nice a guy.
He seemed to have everything too “together” for anything like that…
…so it didn’t even cross my mind.
As far as I knew, he wasn’t even a suspect as of then.
Since then, O.J. has gotten into all kinds of trouble, and the public perception of him is radically different.
O.J. seemed to have it all together…on the outside…
…whatever has been going on—on the inside of this person…
…appears to be a different story.
In a similar vein, Jacob was a man who, outwardly, appeared to have it all together.
But there were some skeletons in his closet.
Jacob had fled from his home after stealing his brother Esau’s birthright and blessing.
He had gotten a safe distance away and had stayed away for a long time.
He must have tried to forget about Esau, or at any rate to act as if Esau had not vowed to kill him.
Now, after many years, Jacob was coming back home with wives, children, servants.
Outwardly Jacob was a very prosperous man, but inwardly he was a terribly troubled soul.
Soon he would meet up, again, with his brother Esau.
How many of us appear to have it all together on the outside—but inside we are filled with anxiety, guilt, and fear?
Maybe we are terribly unhappy with our lives.
Maybe we are afraid we will meet a horrible end—due to the many horrible deeds we have done.
Maybe we are doing a bit of wrestling with God.
I remember, one time in college when I was wrestling with God.
I was feeling particularly bad.
I felt that I was too sinful…
…I felt that I was too lost in order to be loved and accepted by God.
As I was wrestling with these thoughts I walked into the campus record store and over the speakers in the store was playing the Billy Joel song: “I Love You Just the Way You Are.”
At that moment I felt that God was speaking to me through the lyrics of that song.
It was as if God was saying, “Ken, I created you. I know what you are made of. I also know all the things you are battling with.
But don’t fret.
I love you just the way you are…sins and all!
Get over yourself, and give all your worries over to me.
Give me all your sins and all your temptations, and allow my blood to wash away your guilt and your shame.
I have great plans for you!
Don’t beat yourself up.
I love you just the way you are, and we’ve got a long journey ahead, you and I.”
Well, that day, I believed God and began the process of healing.
Do you feel as if you are too sinful, too guilty, too lost in order for God to love you and forgive you?
Or what about your family members, your co-workers, your classmates, your neighbors?
Do they feel this way about themselves?
This is the way Jacob felt.
Genesis Chapter 32:1-21, gives us a picture of a very worried Jacob.
He knew he had wronged his brother, so he feared for his life and for the life of his family.
Little did Jacob know that Esau had not held a grudge against him at all.
He had not forgotten what Jacob had done to him, but he had stopped bothering himself about it.
As Chapter 33 tells us, Esau would meet Jacob with the generosity of a big man who lets bygones be bygones.
But not only did Jacob not know this would happen…
…what he thought he knew was the exact opposite of the truth.
Jacob thought Esau would try and kill him.