Summary: God saved us when we were objects of wrath; while we were still His enemies. Why would He have done that?
OPEN: A woman recalled the hardship of growing up… different. As a child she’d grown up with a cleft pallet which made it so that she had a misshapen lip, a crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech. “When schoolmates asked, ‘What happened to your lip?’ She’d say she’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow that seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. She was convinced that no one outside her family could love her. In 2nd grade there was a teacher named Mrs. Leonard that all the kids loved. She was a short, round, and happy – sparkling lady. Every year, the school had hearing tests for the students and Mrs. Leonard gave test to everyone in her class. Finally it was this little girl’s turn. Students would stand against the door and cover one ear, then Mrs. Leonard would sit at her desk and whisper something, that the students would have to repeat it back – things like “the sky is blue” or “do you have new shoes?” The woman recalled: “I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, ‘I wish you were my little girl.’” (“The Whisper Test” by Mary Ann Bird)
Among the favorite verses we’re preaching about in this sermon series is THIS one that essentially says “I wish you were my little girl. I wish you belonged to me.” In 1 Peter 2:24 we read “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds YOU have been healed.”
This is personal. This is about God loving you so much that He DIED so you could be healed of your guilt and shame. It’s a little bit like the other favorite verse that echoes this which says “For God so loved YOU (the world) that He gave His only begotten Son…”
In that single act – of Jesus dying on the cross - God said “I wish you were mine! I want you to belong to me!
Now that’s Scriptural.
(pause) But it doesn’t seem normal. I mean, why should God love us?? Scripture tells us we’ve all sinned and that none of us is righteous. In fact, when God saved us Romans 5:10 says “we were His enemies” and Ephesians 2:3 declared “by nature we were children of wrath.”
God’s righteous… we’re not. So why should He love us? It seems that even the world agrees with that.
ILLUS: Back in 1968 there was a picture in the movie theatres called “2001: A Space Odyssey.” There are people who still talking about that movie. The author of that story (Arthur C. Clarke) made this comment about God “If there are any gods whose chief concern is man, they can’t be very important gods.”
In other words: a real god wouldn’t bother himself with weak and flawed mortals. A real god couldn’t love people like us. And even the world religions agree.
Did you realize no matter what world religion you talk about, or religious books of those religions - their gods (if they love anybody) only love “nice” people? Love, in those religions, is reserved only for the ones who deserve it. The Hindus have many books and their many gods, but amongst their 1000s of gods there isn’t a single one who would love you. And Muslims have the Koran that tells of Allah… but Allah is an impersonal god who really isn’t known for loving people. And Buddhists have a book called the Dharma – but Buddhists don’t actually believe that there is a god, let alone a god who would love you.
ILLUS: John Stott once told of being shocked when he entered a Buddhist temple. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statute of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time, after a while I have had to look away. And in imagination, I have turned instead to the lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross; nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of His. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolizes divine suffering.” (From his book: “The Cross of Christ”)