That's a strange question for a preacher to ask, isn't it? Yet, it's a question that is asked by many, even those who profess to be Christians, especially during a time of trial and tribulation.
My sermon today is not an argument for the existence of God. My personal belief is that any God I have to defend is not god at all. My God is big enough to defend Himself. In fact, Scripture says that God has already given us enough of a revelation of Himself that God doesn't need defending. Turn with me to Romans 1:18-25 and let's read that together.
The Scripture writers never even entertain the question "Is God real?" The answer, a resounding YES!, is presumed from Genesis to Revelation. The Scriptures tell us that the fool - the person who bases his or her life on something other than reality - says in his heart "there is no god." When we look closely at the Hebrew, we find that that verse isn't entertaining any argument about the existence of God. It is saying that the man or woman who bases their life on any reality other than that God is vitally interested and involved in their lives, is basing their life on something other than reality. I have to admit that I am foolish sometimes. I live my life at times as if God isn't vitally interested or involved in my life. Isn't that what we all do when we sin? We place ourselves out of relationship with God, who is not only interested and involved in our lives, but who cares deeply for us. How do you feel when someone you care deeply about acts as if you aren't inter!
ested in them and involved in their lives? God cares for you and I more that anyone else we know cares for us and God hurts when we live our lives as if God isn't interested or involved in our personal affairs.
I'm talking as if God is sitting right here right now with great interest in us and wanting to be involved with us in even our mundane, non-spiritual, irreligious affairs. Those of us who are people of faith can accept that fairly easily. But, there are many, and maybe even some here, who cannot so easily accept that. God knows us pretty well and knows that we humans need a live demonstration sometimes. That's why God came to us in a particular time in history to demonstrate His care, His interest and His involvement in our lives in the flesh, in the person of Jesus Christ.
But, some would say, Jesus Christ isn't here with us right now, at least not in the flesh. Those of us who are people of faith would be opposed to such impertinence but might agree that Jesus Christ, the person, isn't sitting here in our midst right now in the same way as the person sitting next to us is. And we would be wrong.
Turn to John 16:7-9 and read with me. Jesus said that when he left us bodily, he would not leave us alone but would send us His spirit to live in us. We don't have Christ living among us in the flesh. But we do have His spirit living in us. Becaue God's spirit lives in us, we are called the Body of Christ and it is through the Body of Christ that God chooses to care for this world through flesh and blood, incarnational, involvement.
When we read that we are the Body of Christ in Scripture, we usually think of some incorporeal, invisible entity - some ideal - that we're part of. We don't grasp that, as the Church, we're the flesh and blood, visible, real embodiment in, through and with which God's Spirit moves to demonstrate God's love and care for this world. Because we fail to grasp that reality, according to I Corinthians 11:30, the Body of Christ is weak, unhealthy and even threatened with death.
I'm a cynical person. I reserve doubt when I'm told that my government really cares for me. I have grave doubts when a big corporation tells me that they care for me. How many of us believe the bank cares more about us than about profits? Or our HMO? We would view anyone who believes that such institutions really care as naieve, wouldn't we? Is it any wonder that there are those who doubt that this institution we call the church really cares about them? Is it any wonder that there are many who doubt that God is really interested and involved in their lives and cares deeply about them when the Body of Christ demonstrates such interest and involvement through institutional programs rather than the individual members becoming personally interested and involved in their lives.