Summary: We can be happy/joyful because our home comes from peace with and privilege of experiencing the presence of God... and that's good because life is full of character building adversity.
Title: Grace, Glory and Guts Part II
Text: Romans 5:1-5
Thesis: We can be joyful/happy because our hope comes through peace with God and that’s good because life is full of character building adversity.
Last Sunday I told the story about a farmer whose donkey fell into an old dry well. The donkey brayed and brayed in despair and so much so that the farmer was beside himself as to what to do. The donkey was old and the pit was dangerous so the risk of rescuing an old donkey did not seem worth doing so he called his neighbors to come help him fill in the well which would silence the donkey and remove the danger of anything or anyone else falling into the well.
When the donkey felt that first shovel full of dirt splatter onto his back he knew this was not in his best interests and became even more agitated, braying all the more. But then the donkey grew silent. The farmer peered over the edge wondering what had happened. That’s when he saw that with each shovel full of dirt the donkey shook the dirt from its back and trampled the dirt underfoot.
Many hours and many shovel fulls later the donkey stepped over the edge of the well and trotted off.
The story of the donkey is a story of salvation but it also a story about adversity, perseverance, and hope… as evidenced in is our text today.
Today we will see how the text moves from joy in our peace with God and the place of privilege in God’s presence… to experiencing joy in adversity and the problems of life.
II. The Joy of Problems
We can rejoice, too [as well or also], when we run into problems and trials… Romans 5:3
There should be an abundance of joy going around in that life is full of all kinds of troubles and adversity. I read this past week about a man who was stopped by a policeman for driving his truck with a burned out taillight. The driver walked to the back of his truck, looked at the burned out taillight and began to weep. The officer tried to console him, “Don’t take it so hard; it’s just a minor offense.”
“That’s not what’s bothering me,” the man replied. “What’s bothering me is what happened to my wife and camper.”
Life is not always easy and God wants us to know that the way we relate to God affects the way we relate to life.
There is a certain tension between freely receiving unmerited grace from God and freely responding to that grace. We receive with joy the free gifts of peace with God and the privilege of access to the presence of God… and now we are to joyfully respond with values and virtues or attitudes and actions that reflect our new relationship with God.
This means that our relationship to God carries over in practical ways in the way we live.
I am a little intrigued by how the courtship ritual works today. First you get a FaceBook page and then where it asks about your relationship status you say, “I’m available” or “on the hunt” or “single” or whatever. You become a “clubber” and start club hopping. Then you sign up with a dating service that assures you that they will match you with the freakiest or funkiest or most frightening person on the planet. Eventually you connect with someone your family and friends do not approve of but you get married anyway and go on to celebrate your 75th wedding anniversary.
However, now when you begin to get serious about someone and are in a committed relationship with them you are supposed to go on FaceBook let people know your status has changed to, “In a relationship.” When in a committed relationship and Friday night rolls around you do not go trolling Larimer Square and LoDo. You contact the dating service and tell them you are off the market. Having received another’s love your attitudes and actions change.
The same thing is true about the Christian life. When you are in a committed relationship with Jesus Christ, your life changes. And the very act of living faithfully as a Child of God means we remain faithful to Christ through thick and thin, the good times and the bad times, the ups and the down, the rough patches and the smooth patches… you get the idea.
In Romans 5:3 our text says that just as we find joy and happiness in a relationship of peace and privilege with God, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for they help us develop…”
There is considerable risk in all of this. I am reluctant to pray the God will give me more patience because I know that means God is going to send a bunch of crazies into my life. I am reluctant to pray that God gives me more love for people because that means God will likely send a bunch of impossible to love people into my life. So I am reluctant to pray for joy because God will likely send me some trouble. However our text says trouble is in fact a good thing for which we can be grateful.