Summary: People are searching for worship that is authentic, alive, creative, and where they experience the life-changing presence of God.
By: Rev. Ken Sauer
Grace United Methodist Church
Soddy Daisy, TN 37379
Humans are not created to be godless.
If we don’t know the true God, we will make our own deities.
It’s a sign of our finitude, and a subconscious awareness that we need direction, purpose, and a relationship with something, Someone bigger than ourselves.
God created us for relationship.
God created us to be in relationship with Him and with one another.
Tragically, we broke that relationship but we haven’t lost our genetic makeup which needs...
...must have that relationship with the Almighty.
The story of the Bible is the story of God and humankind trying to rebuild our broken relationship.
We see this story played out from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
We see this story played out in all of human history.
We see this story played out in our daily lives.
It’s the story of a lost people and a loving God.
It’s the story of a very weak people, and a very strong God.
It’s a story of a God who seeks us out, and a people who, often, don’t want to be found or don’t know that we have been found.
But, oh, when we realize we have been found...and that God is the One Who sought us...
...and sought us with such love, in fact, that He was willing to come and die in order to have relationship with us...
...oh, how wonderful it can be!!!
In our Gospel Lesson from Luke that Ron read from earlier Jesus tells a parable about two men who go up to the temple to pray.
One of the men is very confident in his own righteousness, and looks down on everyone else.
He is one of the religious leader’s of Jesus’ day—a Pharisee.
The other man is a hated tax collector.
The Pharisee probably thinks he is doing God a great big favor by going to the temple at all.
And he prays to God about himself...about how good he himself is...
... “God I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even this tax collector,” the Pharisee prays.
It’s a sad prayer is it not?
The man does not understand that he is not in relationship with God.
God is missing from his life, and he is not even aware of it!
Jesus would have said he was blind!
And this is what he was...blind to his need for God...
...blind to his own sinfulness...
...blind to the love and grace of God.
But the other man who went up to pray, the tax collector, he saw very well.
If the Pharisee was blind, the tax collector had 20-20 vision!!!
We are told that he was so aware of his need for God, so aware of his sinfulness, so aware of his lost state that he “stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’”
Jesus goes on to tell us that the second man, the tax collector rather than the self-righteous Pharisee went home saved or in right relationship with God that day!
Do not the lyrics of one of...if not the most beloved Christian hymn contain the words: “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see”?
How many folks have passionately worshipped God through the hymn “Amazing Grace”?
How many others, think of it as one of their favorite songs, but have no ability to relate to its meaning?
The tax collector worshipped God.
The Pharisee worshipped himself.
Who do we worship?
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had an interesting take on the problem of sin and evil in the world.
It’s called the “happy fault” tradition.
To the question, “Didn’t God foresee that Adam and Eve would abuse their liberty in the Garden of Eden?
And didn’t God know the horrible consequences which this would have?
And why did God allow this disobedience to happen?”
Wesley answers that God permitted disobedience because the divine remedy for it would far exceed in blessedness the baneful consequences of the Fall.
For God’s response to Adam’s Fall was to open the possibility for humanity to attain “more holiness and happiness on earth than it would have been possible for [us] to attain if Adam [and Eve] had not fallen.
For if Adam had not fallen Christ had not died.”
So there would have been no room for that amazing display of the Son of God’s love to us...There could have been no such thing as faith in the Son of God, “as loving us and giving himself for us.”
“There could have been no faith in the Spirit of God, as renewing the image of God in our hearts.”