Summary: Deals with the Good News no matter the situation. A follow-up to a sermon dealing with homosexuality within the church.
Last Sunday I violated one of the most cardinal rules in sermon presentation. They taught us in seminary to always end every sermon with Good News. Unfortunately, my subject last week left us with very little Good News to celebrate. But, after much consideration and after reading through the scriptures for this week, as well as others, and further deliberating on the idea I realized even in these times when we feel sick in the pit of our stomachs from Satan’s attempts to derail our spirituality there is always Good News – if we only seek it. The whole of the Holy Bible is filled with events of Good News. If you read the selected lectionary scriptures for this week you will have recognized the Old Testament reading as the story of Moses and the burning bush. We might ask what is the Good News here? Moses sees a bush on fire and it is not being consumed; God tells him to “Come no closer, take off your sandals…I am sending you back to confront Pharaoh.” Moses stammers and stutters around and tries his best to get out of the assignment. Doesn’t sound like very much Good News there. But, look at verses 7 & 8, God said to Moses, “I have observed the misery of my people…Indeed, I know their sufferings and I have come down to deliver them.”
Moses still is not satisfied and asked God, “When they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say?” God answered, “I AM WHO I AM…This is my name forever, and this is my title for all generations.” Not only was there the Good News of deliverance from Egyptian slavery, but God also revealed Himself to Moses and us. God is the great “I AM” and will be forever, no questions asked. The people of Israel had been in bondage to Egypt for four hundred years and now they were getting the word, God was coming to rescue them.
Do we feel as if maybe our spiritual lives, our Christian existence is in bondage to the secular world surrounding us? Maybe we are being threatened by forces beyond our control; threatened over the loss of our Church as we know it. Do not worry, “I AM WHO I AM” will always be right where we need Him to help us through these rough spots and into better days; maybe not necessarily in the direction we were expecting, but, nonetheless “I AM” is always there.
Israel was suffering great persecution. The people of God have always suffered persecution and there is no time in the foreseeable future when it will stop; unless Jesus Christ returns to call His Church home. While Jesus walked the earth the Romans were abusing the Jews and the Believers; and the Jews were mistreating the Believers. Those members of the early Church were on the low end of everything. Jesus even began telling His disciples things were going to get worse before they got any better. Peter had earlier claimed Jesus to be “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” When Jesus began telling them what was waiting for Him in Jerusalem, Peter was incredulous and began to chastise Jesus. Jesus rebuked Peter, calling him a ‘stumbling block’, because Peter was placing the desires of the world, of “human things,” over those of what should be his spiritual priority.
I wonder if some of us may have the same mindset as Peter? Are we maybe becoming overly distraught over things which are beyond our abilities to make a difference? Do not misunderstand me; every spoken voice does make a difference. The difference comes from who can speak loudest, longest, most articulate, and most truthful. We can step aside as Peter did and attempt to place our own priorities upon the situation at hand, or we can turn them all over to Jesus and let Him remove the ‘stumbling block’.
Even then there is a price to be paid to get over this stumbling block. Jesus calls us to “deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.” We may see something disarming taking place around us. There are several ways to approach the situation: wring our hands and whimper; rant and rave, but step back when things get a little hard to handle; or we can “deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.” Jesus will always be right where we need Him to be, this again is the Good News of His gospel.
The Church may appear to be in dire straits, but hear these verses, “…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” This is even better Good news. Peter the very one willing to chastise Jesus became the specific foundation of Jesus’ Church. The Church is on a firm foundation; the detractors may do their best to divide it, defile it, or destroy it; but Jesus said, “the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” I can not think of much better Good News than that.