Summary: We all live our lives in relationship to God on some level. There’s a continuum from rejection of God to being embraced by God. This sermon outlines that continuum, which is often the journey we take to God.
The visuals for this sermon are at http://prezi.com/8fxspeqp4jxn/easter-sunday-the-continuum/
So. Easter. Resurrection Sunday. It’s a great day. A day we remember every year when everything changed.
How many of us were here last Palm Sunday? We celebrated the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, perhaps sensing some of the tension of the crowd that greeted Him that day, knowing that in a few short days those same people would be crying out: “Crucify Him!” Good Friday? Two days ago many of us gathered to mourn. In a sense Good Friday is God reaching out to us with His love. It is love’s appeal to humanity to be reconciled to God
Whether you were or elsewhere for these important services in the Christian calendar, or if this is the first service you’ve been to for a while…you have a response to the story of Jesus.
You have a reaction to the incarnation, the birth of Jesus, the life of Jesus and the death and resurrection of Jesus.
You have given thought to the events of Jesus Christ’s life, and you have, through your response, whether or not you realize it, placed yourself on a continuum of sorts.
For many of us this continuum will seem somehow very familiar, because in one form or other this has been our journey.
This is where I started. Before knowing anything about Christian faith, I dismissed it. This was due to my upbringing as an atheist.
The very concept of God, let alone the possibility that God exists, was rejected out of hand. It didn’t even merit a conversation. Those who believe in God were believed to be foolish.
Primitive. Unenlightened. Gullible. Definitely not to be included in any social circle my family was a part of. Those who risked speaking of God or of faith were mocked before their words were done.
So God as a concept was rejected. I affirmed this 100%. The idea of God as personal on any level…this I admit to never having considered. Perhaps that’s understandable.
When a person’s idea of God is a grey-haired old man dishing out summary judgment from the clouds…that’s really easy to mock. When someone’s idea of God is that He is cold, aloof, law-loving, distant and impossible to please…that’s easy to dismiss out of hand. And so I did.
I had lived in a household, in a family social circle, and interacted with friends, all of whom had no time for or interest in God. There was no reason to think anything about God.
At 17 I had never been to church; I had received no Christian instruction. If it was possible to have had less than zero interest in God, that would have been me.
But I started to have doubts. Those doubts came as I started to bump up against Christians…first a vice-principal who would scold me for acting out or being late or absent from class, and then would offer to pray with me, and then invited me to a Bible study.
Then I met a girl whose family wierded me out by the way they lived and the way they thought, and by a distinct and disturbing groundedness and joy that they had.
That these people…intelligent, thoughtful, kind, gracious and loving people….that these people said they believed in God and followed Jesus Christ….this created a crisis for me. Not a crisis of faith exactly…..or perhaps that’s exactly what it was.
I began to doubt what I believed. I began to consider something I would never have imagined myself considering. Maybe God was real. And maybe my mocking rejection of God was actually a rejection of an ugly, twisted caricature of God, and not God Himself.
My stomach was in a knot for months. Not only because of my personal doubts and how those doubts challenged everything I had believed up until that point.
But also because EVERYONE in my life up to that point was someone who would start to mock me if they knew that my doubts were growing. Doubt is a very real place on the continuum.
Over time I began to realize that whereas once I stood clearly and proudly with people who all agreed that the earth was flat, I was starting to suspect that it was round after all.
Once I stood arm in arm with people who were sure that God was not real, and all of the sudden I wasn’t so sure. What would people think? What would my intellectual family think?
What would my druggy friends think? Doubts hurt. Doubts run deep. Doubts make us fear change. Such questioning can make us go back to thinking that the earth is flat.
But questioning and probing is a really important place on the continuum. When we don’t any longer hold or grasp so strongly what we formerly had rejected; when we’re not so entrenched in the worldview we once had; and when it’s because we think we may have discovered something way, way better…That is a good place to be.