Summary: A sermon about the extent to which God Loves us
Concordia Lutheran Church
The Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 14. 2010
† IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST †
May the grace of God our Father, paid for by treating Christ like a sinner, help you understand that you are at peace with Him, and with all of His people, even as you appeal to them to be at peace with God!
He made Him to be Sin…
It sits there, these words of Paul, at the beginning of our epistle there today, challenging us. Look there, at the top of the page. “We are careful not to judge people by what they seem to be…”
Let’s be a bit truthful, this is often indeed what we do. We look at someone, and we base how we treat them accordingly. Example. Two young men knock on your door on a Saturday morning, and as you look out the window, you see their bikes, and their white shirts and narrow ties, and you ….
Turn out the lights and hush everyone in the house… “be quiet – the Mormons are out there!” Of course, it might not be the Mormons, it could be the census, or the IRS, or… nah.. it’s the Mormons – hide!!
Or you see another young man, Caucasian, unshaven, with clothes a little askew and raggedy, would you think he was the guest preacher at a youth gathering of a Passion church? Turned out he was the pastor of a church of over 500 on the east coast, here to talk about a life of prayer. I had that embarrassment a couple of weeks ago, here – I was reaching to my wallet – to see if I had some money to help him out! We kick ourselves after such embarrassments, and yet… we do it again and again..
Seriously, we do judge people by their looks often. People even did that to Jesus. When people looked at Him, they saw Mary’s son, or the step brother of Jude, or the nice young carpenter turned Rabbi. But when he starts talking about death, and eating and drinking His Body and Blood, or when he raises people from the dead, it’s hard to conceive of him as the Messiah, the Son of God, of being…God. Nah- not him.
According to the flesh – no way
Even according to the flesh, they had trouble seeing Jesus as the Christ!
So if not that… how
As we travel through lent, it’s time for a bit of introspection. A time to realize our sins. Not just to learn from our errors, but to realize that Christ’s death on the cross can heal the damage they have done. In our attempts to live as we ought, the challenge is not being strong enough, the challenge comes from knowing what it means to be reconciled to God. For I believe, as we understand what it means to be His people, we will see the other relationships we have, change. Most importantly, because trusting in Him means seeing that He has changed us all.
We’ve been entrusted with it
We oversee it
God makes His appeal through us?
I’ve mentioned before, that when scripture mentions something twice, its to draw attention to it. In language studies, you call this a parrellism. If it is said three or more times, even more attention is drawn to it.
In our epistle today, something is mentioned a number of times. It is this idea that we are to be at peace with God. I chose the translation today, the Contemporary English Version, because it simplifies this. Other translations use a good old church word – reconciliation – here. The concept is simple – our debts, our sins, have been forgiven by God. He has made the peace.
But that’s not all that is mentioned in multiple ways. Hear this again.
8 God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others. 19 What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. 20 We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (CEV)
Three times Paul talks of being given the work, of being sent to share this message of peace with others. That incredible blessing is passed down to us, the ability to see God make peace with others, by sharing with them this same message that has been shared with us, that we are celebrating this morning together.
But, you might say, pastor – sharing Christ’s love with people is difficult, we don’t know them, they might be…. Well… sinners! You know what – even if they know Jesus, they probably still sin at least once a month…er week. And that is why Paul precludes a lesson about reconciliation with the comment about not looking at others according to the flesh. If we look at those…. Out there… according to the flesh, we won’t care if they hear or not.