Summary: A sermon explaining how we are set free in Christ
CCCAG August 2nd, 2020
Scripture- Romans 8:1-4
I grew up with the sneaking suspicion that God didn’t like me very much.
Broken home, horrible fights between my mom and dad. Being smaller and poor, I was teased a lot which made me shy and introverted.
So when I went to church and kept hearing about how God loves everyone, I was deeply suspicious of that message. I thought maybe it applied to everyone else but me.
As most of you know I grew up in the Lutheran Church. Even though I skipped most of the classes I was still confirmed at the age of 15. Because I was exposed to some Christian teaching I knew a few basic principles .
Principle one is that God is holy and hates sin
Principle 2 sinners go to hell
Because of the first two, I had developed a third-
principle 3 I am a Sinner that's probably bound for hell
That was as far as my personal understanding of God went, so I prompting put God on the back burner since he didn’t like me anyway.
For a good portion of my younger years I embraced that same lifestyle I grew up in- partying and living only for the moment and had no real future plans other than figuring out the next party time.
Due to a flood of negative circumstances in my life when I was 18, I enlisted in the military. In reception station right before you go to basic training, they used to give you those little New Testaments with Psalms as part of your general equipment. Outside of your basic training field manual it was the only book you were allowed to read at the basic training I attended.
So I read it a lot.
I was really confused by the teachings of Jesus. In one hand, he seemed to say that no one will ever qualify to go to heaven; not even The most religious among us. He said not even the scribes and Pharisees which I equated to be in like a priest or a pastor.
But on the other hand, he talked a lot about God's love and forgiveness, that God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die for us.
I couldn't in my mind equate the two thoughts together.
I knew Jesus went to the cross for me but I didn't understand why.
The lack of understanding came from the same two places it comes from in our society today.
The first reason I didn’t understand the bible is because I never grew to appreciate the idea of respect for authority, even though the military was doing a great job pounding that into my head at that moment. Most of the authority figures in my life growing up had been deeply flawed and untrustworthy. That carried over into my ideas about God. I saw Him as a deeply capricious entity that just wanted to toss lightening bolts at people for any violation of His moral commands.
The second thing that kept me from understanding the bible is a serious lack of respect for the rule of law. I saw Laws or rules as challenges to circumvent. You put a fence up, I’d climb it. Put barbwire at the top of the fence, I’ll toss a jacket over it and climb it anyway. If you put arrows on the floor telling me to shop in this direction, my natural inclination is to go in the wrong direction. At best, rules were minor annoyances that kept me from enjoying life on my terms.
Because I grew up with these mindsets and attitudes, the ideas of justice, law, substitutionary atonement, or even that I was worthy of punishment was completely foreign to me. They had zero meaning or importance in my life.
After I went into the reserves and working in a factory on an assembly line run by a Christian, and the person to my right and left on this assembly line were very serious Christians.
I just mocked what they were telling me and caused a lot of frustration as they tried to show me the way to salvation. I wasn’t interested. After all, I had already read the bible and knew I was doomed to hell eventually, so I might as well try to enjoy life while it lasted.
That’s were most people I talk to today are.
Then someone showed me this verse we are going to read this morning. It began my journey toward understanding the cross of Christ, and all of what it meant to me personally, and to all of those who chose to kneel before the Savior and ask for forgiveness.
As you all know, we have been having members of the congregation read the scriptures while we have been in the book of Romans, but today, Because this scripture meant so much to me, I’m going to read it myself.