Summary: We can measure our care for God by our willingness to equip ourselves for witness and to share the Gospel with our neighbors and to be missions supporters.
The plumber came this week. You remember, those of you who were here last Sunday, how I was waiting for the plumber to come and solve our drainage problems?
The plumber did come this week. He did the job I wanted, and even did it better than I knew it could be done. Not only did he unstop the plugged drain, but he told me some things I should be doing to prevent that kind of problem from happening again. By the way, if you want it or need it, I’ll give you his name and his phone number. I was impressed.
Thereby hangs another parable. Another plumbing parable from my basement.
But before I give you today’s plumbing parable, I think we should review last week’s. Some were absent last Sunday; some have forgotten; and some of you were a little plugged up yourselves. We need to review.
Do you remember that I told you about my plumbing problem as a way of helping us analyze how human beings respond to frustration? How do we react when things just don’t go right and when we can’t get done what we want to get done?
I told you that I tried to unstop my plugged up drain all by my lonesome, using my amateur’s knowledge and my flimsy little plumber’s snake. And that reminded us that the first level of frustration is weakness. We get frustrated because we are just too weak or too ill-equipped to do what we want to do.
And then I pointed out that the next thing I did was to ignore the problem and hope it would go away. I tried to get around the issue. I hooked up a hose to send soapy water into the rose bushes. I fiddled while Rome burned. I spent three weeks just not admitting that I was going to need help. “Mother, please, I’d rather do it myself". The point was that the second level of frustration most of us reach is that we can’t get on with what we want to do because we are unwilling to ask for help. We just won’t keep the sin of pride out of the way.
Finally, I told you that I broke down and called the plumber only when my daughter, my son, and my wife were all on my case, wondering if they would ever again have clean clothes and a dry basement. What really got my attention was the potential of a broken relationship. What really brought me to the end of the line was the knowledge that hostility, enmity, had to be confronted.
And so last week we worked our way through a passage in Romans, chapter 6, in which Paul addresses all three of these levels. And in each case, at each level, he told us how much God cared about us and what God in Christ has done in order to help deal with our frustrations.
What do you remember? Do you remember now the key words Paul used to describe these three levels of frustration? Each one was introduced by the word, "while". Let’ s try: first, while we were still weak; then, while still we were sinners; and finally, while we were enemies.
Now those are the three levels of frustration that we had seen in the plumbing parable: weakness, pride (or sin), and enmity (or broken relationships).
And the question we asked about all of this was, "How much does God care about us?” The answer in every case, at all three levels, was what? Christ died for us. Christ died for us.
I’m almost tempted to preach last Sunday’s message all over again! I won’t, but I will summarize it for you like this:
When you are frustrated because you are too weak to do what you ought to do, remember that while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly, to show us what awesome strength he can bring us, so that we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.
Then when you are frustrated because you are too proud to ask for help, thinking that you ought to be able to get your life together all on your own, remember that while still we were sinners, Christ died for us. He died to teach us that we cannot manage the sin problem alone. He died to pay the price for us that we are unable and unwilling to pay for ourselves.
And finally, when you are so frustrated and unable to get anywhere because the relationships in your life are all messed up, then remember that while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His son. And that death is love reaching out to us, love grasping us to show us that we are not alone. We have a savior who will walk with us and be our friend; we have a savior who will teach use how love gives us success.