Summary: Lent 2C - A look at Psalm 27 & Philippians 3:17-4:1. With a reminder that God loves us no matter what. And a challenge to be examples of Christ, no matter what.
No Matter What
Rev. Beth Garrod-Logsdon
Wilmore Presbyterian Church
On Thursday, I took the opportunity to go to Asbury Seminary’s chapel service to experience the preaching of one of the top preachers of our time. Dr. Tom Long is Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He is world renowned for his skills as a preacher and also for his study of homiletics. As I was drawn into his delivery of the Gospel message (he was preaching on the parable of the talents), I was amazed at how simply he presented the good news of salvation. His message wasn’t one of condemnation nor judgment, but rather a message of “here is the scripture, here’s what it says, now what are YOU going to do with it?” Over the past couple of days, I have reflected upon his words, and I keep returning to a story he told of one of his friends who died suddenly.
This friend, we’ll call him Fred (because I honestly can’t remember his name), was in the prime of his life. He was teaching and writing and composing music. He was enjoying his family and especially his grandchildren. He was so content with where he was and with all that was happening in his life he wasn’t sure that life could actually get any better than what it was. But then, one day, he had a heart attack and died.
Fred had always been a man of faith. He had been raised in a family who attended church together and truly valued and appreciated the work of God in their midst. As the family gathered around Fred’s lifeless body to share memories and stories of their life together, Fred’s brother spoke up…
Now, we have to know something about Fred’s brother, he had given up his faith. Though he had been raised in the same household – going to church, sharing their experiences of God’s activities in their everyday living, seeking to trust God in the good times and bad – he no longer held to this same conviction that the rest of the family had. As he gathered there with the rest of the family he looked at his brother, shook his head, then looked at their mother and siblings and said, “This… This is what YOUR God has done! Just when Fred’s life was going well, just when he was at a point where he could enjoy his life, just when he was finding true enjoyment in his work, YOUR LOVING God took his life. That’s some God you have.”
At this point Fred’s mother recounted a portion of Fred’s life when he was diagnosed with a childhood disease that was fatal to children of his age. And yet, two weeks after his diagnosis, a cure was found enabling Fred to live a full and meaningful life. At that point she turns to her living son and says, “That, my son, is what YOUR loving God does for his children.”
Our God is God. And whether others admit it or not, the God we worship is the God of all creation. The God who from nothing spoke in to being all that is seen and unseen. Our Savior, Christ Jesus, is God incarnate who came to earth to walk in our shoes and to die a horribly brutal death, conquering the power of sin, that we who remain sinful would be given the cure of God’s mercy and grace. That is what our loving God has done for us.
At the time when we are most vulnerable to the power of evil and sin, our God enters into our lives and redeems us from errant living. That is, if we are willing to walk in the path of God. Unfortunately, many people in the world (even some who call themselves Christians) choose to walk in the path of those whose gods (small “G”) are idols of the world. It’s a choice we have to make each day – will I live a life that glorifies my God or will I live a life that glorifies myself? Will I uphold and proudly carry the cross of Christ or will I by my own neglect of faith become an enemy of my savior?
We don’t like to think of it in those terms – but Paul is pretty clear: you’re either a faithful child of God who sets her eyes upon heavenly glory or you are an enemy of the cross who is seeking worldly passions. Another way of saying this is those who are not for us are against us. So I ask you - are you “for” God or by your thoughts, words and deeds are you projecting a life that is against God? Are you living a life that values the treasures you lay in heaven? Or are you obsessed with worldly power, riches and clout?