Summary: Lots of reasons to be dreary. But there are even more compelling reasons to rejoice.
Romans 5:1-5 DREARY-FREE CHRISTIANITY
This past week with the warmer weather, I was finally able to clean out some of my garage. It’s not such a bad place to be when the weather is decent. One thing I was finally able to get rid of is a pile of dirt that always sits right next to my car. All that dirt and sand and mud from the road is dragged into the garage by my car, and it piles up right next to my door. It’s hard not to step on it and drag that dirt into the house. This past week, I was finally able to get rid of that pile I’ve been looking at for a long time.
Lent is a time when you do that same sort of thing in your soul. As life goes on, different things pile up in your soul, sinful attitudes, sinful habits. Lent is a time when you take an inventory of your soul, and whatever sinful attitudes or habits are there, you get rid of them with the Word of God.
Last week, we swept doubt out of our hearts. Today, we would like to focus on something else. And that something is dreariness. Have you ever felt a sense of dreariness? You feel glum, gloomy, negative, as you look at your life and the world around you.
This past week I turned on the TV for background while I was doing a few things. There was a show on called “Becker.” I would have to say that this show was one of the dumbest shows I have ever seen. The main character was a very dreary person, a doctor played by Ted Dansen. He was crabby, always complaining, a very negative outlook on life. Every day was a bad day, and there was always something to be upset about.
There are people like that in real life. Perhaps you know one. Always dreary. You never want to ask them how they are doing, because they always complain. Perhaps, at times, you’ve been one of these people. All of us, at times, have felt a sense of dreariness, a desire to be down and complain. Today, we are going to focus on the key to dreary-free Christianity. As we study God’s Word, you will see why you don’t have to be dreary. Through his Word, God the Holy Spirit will work on your heart, and sweep away your dreariness, and fill you with joy.
What brings you down? Often times, it is your conscience. You become dreary when you think about your relationship with God. “I will never be good enough,” you say. “I make mistakes every day. I never do the things I ought to do as a Christian. I’m always falling flat on my face when I try to serve my God. I’ll never be the kind of Christian that God wants me to be.” That’s our conscience talking, isn’t it? And our conscience does have a point. We are sinful people.
All this talk about war and peace on TV– Iraq has not complied with the rules set up for them by the United Nations. They are guilty of a material breach. Now we are amassing our troops, preparing for war. Some nations are calling for peace. In a strange way, you personally have a lot in common with Iraq. Here’s what I mean - God has set up rules for you: love other people, love God above all things – rules - and you have not complied. In the eyes of God, you are guilty of a material breach. You know it, and you’re still not cooperating. Like Iraq, you make excuses, you ask for more time. You would think that God would have enough with you. You would think that God would declare war on you. Perhaps he ought to amass his army of angels and punish you for your material breach of his commands. The more you think about these things, the more depressed, the more dreary you begin to feel.
But instead of declaring war on you, God has declared peace. Look at verse 1: “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God has declared peace, not war, between you and him. Jesus has brought this peace into the world. And he did that not through negotiating between you and the Heavenly Father. He didn’t ask for more time, nor did he strike a deal. Jesus achieved peace between you and God by suffering. He talked about this to his disciples in our Gospel lesson for today when he told them that he would have to “suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed, and after three days rise from the dead.” This is how Jesus has established peace between you and God. To know this, to believe this – that takes away our dreariness, and fills us with joy.