Summary: A Christmas sermon focusing on the angels' proclamation: "on earth peace." The message looks at four mistakes that those three words help us avoid.
WHAT'S HE UP TO? It’s helpful to know someone’s intentions.
- Luke 2:14.
- Three words that reveal God’s intentions: “on earth peace.”
- As the angels share the message the Lord gave them to tell the shepherds, we learn about God’s intentions. This child who has been born in Bethlehem has come, among other reasons, to bring “on earth peace.”
- Those three words allow us to answer some important questions that many people have about who God is and what He is doing in the world. We’re going to look at four of them this morning.
QUESTIONS THOSE THREE WORDS ANSWER:
1. “Is God against me?”
- A man loses his wife to cancer. His anger in his grief leads him to question whether God hates him and is against him.
- A woman feels like she’s trying but runs into obstacles at every turn. Her frustration leads her to wonder if God is against her.
- There are many people who feel that God is working against them. They think God has it in for them.
- These three words tell us a different story. They tell us that God desires to bring “on earth peace.” He is for us, not against us.
2. “Is God indifferent to me?”
- One step removed from believing that God is against us is thinking that God is indifferent to us. This is, I believe, much more common that point 1.
- Many believe that is irrelevant to their lives. God just isn’t a factor. He’s not actively working for them and He’s not actively against them. God isn’t working in the world. We’re all on our own.
- This was the faith that Jefferson had. He was a Deist and believed that there was a god who had set the world in motion but who thereafter did not interfere in human affairs. We were on our own.
- Today Deism is not a prominent belief as a formal theology. But the idea behind it is quite prominent. There are many who simply presume that God has nothing to do with their everyday lives. Interestingly, many of these people claim a belief in God while simultaneously living as though He doesn’t exist. They are functional atheists. What’s that mean? It means that at a practical level they are living as though God is irrelevant to their lives.
- These three words speak to those people as well.
- In bringing “on earth peace” through Jesus, God is clearly at work in the world. Indeed, just the proclamation from the angels from God is enough to let us know that God is not sitting idly by and watching the earth dispassionately.
- Some of you here this morning are living as functional atheists. You claim belief in God but then live as though you’re on your own.
- You are living by your own guidelines, rather than believing that the Word has been given to us as a pattern for living.
- You almost never praying, only throwing up a prayer in the most desperate of “Hail Mary” situations and even then not with any real expectation but just a blind hope.
- You are living for now with no thought to the life beyond this or the possibility of judgment.
3. “Is faith just about the afterlife?”
- In many churches, the main message is something like this: Jesus died on the cross for your sins so you can be saved and go to heaven when you die. While there is undeniable truth in that statement, the gospel is so much more than that. One thing that message leaves out: what God wants to do in your life is not just about the life to come but also about this present life.
- Jesus did come to offer us eternal life, but He also came to offer us abundant life. Following Jesus is the best of all possible lives. Not necessarily the easiest but the best.
- What’s that look like?
a. We are living for what is of true importance, rather than running after the silliness of this world.
b. We are being changed, moving from self-centered and sinful people to ones who serve others and are holy.
c. We bear fruit, both internal and external. The internal fruit is the change in our lives and character. The external fruit is the lives that we impact around us.
d. We have the Holy Spirit guiding us through life.
e. We experience grace and forgiveness and are able to share that with others.
f. There are many others, but that’s a good start.
- How does this tie into the three words from the angels? They proclaim “on earth peace.” That is, there is a change that can happen in our lives here on earth. It’s not just all about the life to come. God has come to transform us in this world.