Summary: God loves us and wants us to choose the road less travelled, the one that leads to Him: to life, the freedom, to joy.
The Feast Homily - May 12, 2015
[This is a message given at an inner-city mission in downtown Toronto, to a mixed audience, most of whom come primarily for the meal]
Last week Pastor Jan asked a really important question. It was simply this: “Who feels like they are not good enough for God?”
A whole lot of hands went up, both from people who were sitting to listen to the message and from people who were walking out of this room during the message.
It’s something that we can all feel and at times, we all do feel. If we have any notion at all of how beautiful and how big and how perfect and how holy God is, we can feel, when we look at ourselves, like we’re nowhere near good enough for God.
And you know what? The funny thing is that...it’s kinda actually very true. None of us, not one of us including me, including Pastor Jan, Pastor Lee...are good enough for God.
There’s not one person in this room who is good enough for God. Not one person who merits heaven, who deserves to be with God.
And you know what? That’s what the Christian faith is all about. It’s the clear-headed recognition that we can’t earn our way to heaven.
We can’t make ourselves good enough for God. No one can. Not Mother Theresa, not Billy Graham, not the holiest person you can ever think of. But that’s only part of the story. That’s the ‘bad news’ that makes the actual ‘good news’ so wonderful.
It’s precisely because we’re not good enough for God that Jesus came, that God came in Jesus Christ. He did that because of two reasons:
First, God knows us through and through, and He knows that we’re not holy enough or good enough to go to heaven OR to walk with God now.
And second, because He loves us so much as we are, today, right now, He planned to make a way for us to be with Him, now and forever.
The Bible says this in the book of Ephesians, chapter 2:
“...Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
So, you know, we can do 2 things with this. The first is, we can try to blot it out. We can ignore it.
We can say to ourselves and our friends - “Ah. Who cares. Let’s get outa here. This is boring”.
We can have this clear understanding that we’re not good enough for God, and we can even understand what the preacher’s saying - that we don’t have to be good enough for God because God sent Jesus to save us, because we can’t save ourselves by good works anyway.
That’s a response that we can have, and that’s actually not an unusual response - people hear about God’s love and God’s grace and the gift of Jesus, and they could care less. I have a close relative whose response is exactly that.
OR. Or. we can do something else with this. We can have a response that’s different. We can really think about it and say to ourselves: “Hang on. God...loves...me? Why? Why does He love me?
What is it about God that would make Him love me? I kinda want to know more about this God who says He loves me.
And God knows I’m not good enough, and He still wants me? He sent Jesus to die for me? Someone would die for me? Hang on.
Someone...died...for...me? I want this. I want to know more about this Jesus. I want to walk with this Jesus, this one - this God, who loves me and gave His life for me.
And I want to suggest that the first response - blotting it out - that’s a way to guarantee that everything stays the same. Exactly as it is. Little change. Little good. Little hope. Status quo.
But...the second response, that’s the road less travelled. That’s the way that leads to life. That’s the way that leads to change, positive change, hopeful change.
That’s the response that leads to salvation, that leads to freedom, that leads to purpose and genuine joy.