Summary: The Reformation reminds us that we must be diligent that we preach a gospel that boldly proclaims God’s grace and forgiveness as free gifts.
Romans 3:21-31 “Discover the Message of Grace”
We’re a congregation, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We are a congregation with a mission: To invite everyone to a new life in Christ, a deeper relationship with Christ, and spirit-filled service for Christ. We want to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and change lives. But, what exactly is it that we want to tell the people around us; what is the good news that we want to share with them in word and deed?
Not only is this the Sunday after our organization celebration, and two days before Halloween. On the calendar of the church, this is Reformation Sunday. Protestants around the world, and especially Lutherans celebrate the beginning of the Reformation, with the nailing of 95 theses (points for debate) on the door of the church at Wittenberg, Germany by Martin Luther.
Reformation Sunday, reminds us of the gospel that we preach. It is a gospel that was once lost by the church, with which it had been entrusted. The church had begun to a proclaim God’s judgment, and motivate and manipulate people by fear. People lived under the shadow of God’s anger and wrath. Life was not filled with grace, but was a constant attempt to work harder to escape God’s judgment.
The world today—our modern, technologically advanced world—is not much different than the world before the Reformation. The most popular form of Christianity in America seems to be “try harder” Christianity. The message preached by too many congregations is “Get your act together or God is going to get you.” The result is proud Christians who think they have got their act together and who judge everyone else for not living correctly. Most of us have felt the judgment of the church, or of some super Christian.
The modern message of many congregations—to try harder to please God is accentuated by every aspect of our daily lives that tells us we have to prove ourselves. We need better grades and better performance reviews.
We also live is a world of fear.
· With war, terrorism, global warming, and a host of other issues, we fear the future.
· We fear each other. We fear strangers.
· We fear failure
· We fear God
THE GOOD NEWS
In to our world and our lives, comes the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not a message that proclaims that we along with our nation will slide down the slippery slopes toward hell unless we get prayer back into our schools (I’d like to see it in our families), the Ten Commandments in our courthouses, and nativities scenes in our parks—to try harder.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is encapsulated in these verses in Romans.
· God loves us. Even though we have all fallen short of the glory of God, God still loves us. In another letter, Paul writes that even though we were enemies of God, God loved us. Nothing will change this fact. God loves us.
· God has a better idea. Instead of trying harder, he sent Jesus. Jesus died for us in order to justify us (give us a right relationship with God) and make us righteous in God’s eyes.
· God invites us to live by faith in Jesus. Living in faith means to walk in the reality that God loves us, that we are members of God’s family that we have enough love to share with others.
· The one sure thing that we have in life is God’s love. God’s love is powerful enough to cast out fear, and to get us off the “try harder” treadmill.
In a world that so often sees the hatred of religion and experiences the judgment of the saints, we have a powerful message to share. We have the life changing proclamation of God’s love.
May we live in that power of that good news, and may we share that good news with everyone around us. It is too good to keep to ourselves.