Summary: The full impact and wonder of God's loving grace is the most liberating force on earth. That good news is not always well received.
June 21, 2020
Hope Lutheran Church
Rev. Mary Erickson
Like Teacher, Like Student
Friends, may grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.
“It’s enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master.” – Matthew 10:25
Last Sunday we listened as the names of the 12 disciples were grandly listed. Jesus was commissioning them for service. They were about to embark on a holy mission in his name. These twelve were going to cast out demons, heal the sick, proclaim good news to the poor.
But before he sends them on their kingdom mission, Jesus gives them some instructions. And they’ve got an ominous tone! Jesus starts out by saying, “Don’t think you’re going to have it any easier than me! And they’re calling me the Devil!” Jesus talks about executions. He says he didn’t come to bring peace anyway; he came to bring a sword! He talks about family strife and even about dreaded crosses.
Goodness! Pretty remarkable that this thing called “The Good News” could get such a hostile reception!
There’s something about the gospel. On the one hand, it’s so radically liberating! We experience that freedom in today’s reading from Romans. God’s redeeming actions through Christ have set us completely free! This freedom is so thorough and so all encompassing, we’ve basically been made new all over. We’ve been born anew!
In our baptisms, we died to sin. We were buried with Christ in his grave. His death was bestowed on us in Baptism. As we went down in those waters, we died with him.
And as we arose from those waters, we became like Christ stepping from his grave on Easter morning. His new, resurrected life became ours that day, too. We were resurrected into new life.
So sin has lost its grip on us. We’ve been restored to God in perfect harmony. All this was made possible by Christ’s actions! Nothing remains to be restored, not one thing remains to be done. No, EVERYTHING has been accomplished by Christ and his redeeming actions.
And the effect that has on us is perfect freedom. It’s summed up for me by the phrase “There is nothing you have to do.”
There is NOTHING you have to do.
There is nothing YOU have to do.
There is nothing you HAVE to do.
There is nothing you have TO DO.
No matter how you slice it, there is nothing you have to do! All has been accomplished through Christ Jesus your Lord! His redeeming actions on the cross point the way to this remarkable divine love. God’s love is for you!
This is radical stuff! All the weight of regrets, they all died with you there in those baptismal waters.
So, sin has lost its grip on you and me. And not just on you and me, but all peoples for whom Christ has died. So from now on, Christ has become our lens. And through his vision, we no longer regard anyone from a human point of view. We see them as Christ sees them!
• No longer do we make distinctions based on race.
• No longer do we divide peoples based on their age.
• No longer do we calibrate people in regards to their mental and physical limitations.
• No, no longer according to gender or gender identity, either.
• No longer do we regard them from a human point of view.
We see them from Christ’s eyes. This gospel, this love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord validates and lifts up each and every soul.
As St. Paul said in Second Corinthians, “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” This radical liberation of God’s love: It affects our relationship with God. But it doesn’t stop there. It also seeps into the pores of our human bonds. It informs and transforms our relationships with one another.
That’s where the rub comes in the gospel! This divine gift: It heals our relationship with God, and it also brings healing to our human relationships. You’d think it was absolutely good news, hands down, from every direction. You’d think people would be clamoring to hear it!
But it’s just a little too liberating. It’s fine and dandy to heal our relationship with God. But it goes too far when it tips the balance of power into our human hierarchies.
Jesus has been greeting lepers. He’s validating questionable women who should in no way be lifted up. He’s embraced foreigners. And now he’s sending out his disciples to do more of the same! No, this will not end well. They definitely need a head’s up on what they’re about to encounter!