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Summary: Life in Christ is what brings meaning.

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Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:15-23

“Life Is Not a One Way Trip to Nowhere”

by: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org

In the 1997 blockbuster movie, As Good As It Gets Jack Nicholson plays the dysfunctional, acid-tongued, romance novelist Melvin Udall, who suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder.

In one memorable scene from the movie, following a rage-filled explosion in the office of his psychiatrist, Nicholson storms out into the waiting room which is packed with depressed and anxious looking patients.

Nicholson stops; he looks at this desperate mass of humanity and in a way only Nicholson can deliver he coldly sneers, “What if this is as good as it gets?”

The most fundamental question human beings have asked throughout the ages is this: “Is life absurd or does it have a purpose?”

Jesus Christ replies that not only do our lives have purpose but God has directly intervened in human affairs to make it abundantly clear to us what that purpose is!

In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel Brennan Manning writes:

“In the end, will life triumph over death?

With unshaken confidence Jesus answers, ‘The Kingdom of My Father cannot be overcome, even by death.

In the end everything will be all right.

Nothing can harm you permanently; no loss is lasting, no defeat more than transitory, no disappointment is conclusive.

Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors…”

That is the promise of our Savior!

That is the key to our faith, and the hope for our lives!

Whatever difficult time you may be going through here on this earth…

…whatever tragedy may befall you…

…this…

…this is not as good as it gets!!!

Life is not a one way trip to nowhere!

Life is not some cruel joke where, in the end, we are the punch-line!

God is not vindictive or forgetful or determined to keep us in our place.

What the life, death, resurrection and everlasting reign of Jesus Christ makes quite clear is that, at the core of the universe is LOVE…

…God passionately wants to be your friend, my friend and through the power of the Holy Spirit provides us, if we so choose to accept it, the strength and the courage and the creativity to love one another as Christ loves us…

…and life in Christ will always and ultimately triumph over hell and death!!!

And yet how many of us are willing to make the exchange of the cynical, hopeless life for the Life of Christ?

How many of us have the confidence to risk everything on the Gospel of Grace?

How many of us are staggering around with the delirious joy of the man who found the buried treasure or the pearl of great price?

Let’s raise some intimate and personal questions about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Do you live each day in the blessed assurance that you have been saved by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?

After falling flat on your face, are you still firmly convinced that the fundamental structure of reality is not works but grace?

Are you moody and melancholy because you are still striving for the perfection that comes from your own efforts and not from faith in Jesus Christ?

Are you shocked and horrified when you fail?

Are you really aware that you don’t have to change, grow, or be good to be loved?

Are you as certain of the triumph of good over evil as you are of the conviction that bears live in the woods?

Though on a given day you may be more depressed than anything else, is the general orientation of your life toward peace and joy?

Are you ruled by other people’s perception of you or your own definition of yourself which is rooted in Christ?

Do you possess God’s Spirit which enables you to transcend doubt, fear, self-hatred and accept that you are accepted by Jesus Christ—and that is all that matters?

If not, we may be a bit like the early followers of Christ who, in our Scripture passage from Acts for today, stood bewildered like deer caught in the headlights—“looking intently up into the sky” even after “a cloud” had hid Jesus from their sight!

After Jesus’ Ascension His followers were staring at nothing but clouds.

They didn’t appear to have a clue what to do or how to go about doing it.

And isn’t this how all of us are without the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

In our natural state, we are stuck in a fog of confusion with no real meaning and no clue as to what we are to do with our lives.

And so, we adapt.

We join the crowd.

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