Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A sermon for our covenant (rededication) service just after the Indian Ocean Tsunami of Boxing day 2004. Covers suffering, taking the gospel and commitment.

Time and the task. Sun 2nd Jan 2005 pm .WBC

After the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 26th Dec 2004

Luke 13:1-5 and Eph 3:1-21


Like me, shocked and pained by images on screen?

- but I want to say, this has strengthened to me why I am a Christian and not something else (more on point 2)

Dreadful! Perhaps made all the worse to us because Boxing day (time to imbibe the horror) and involves white people?

- but maybe that says something to us¡K and about our faith?

o How detached from the world, historic Christianity and the bible we have become

„X (individualistic)

Why are we surprised when things like this happen?

- do we think the Bible is only joking when it talks about a FALL?

- No- the Bible says that somehow a fall has happened and the world is a fallen place.

o The spirit world is, as well- in fact that¡¦s where it happened first (one of the main dangers in New Age is this belief that all is sweetness and light and you can just imbibe everything)

o War broke out in heaven and Satan and his hordes were kicked to earth

„X This happened before man was on the scene. So, to me, the world was partly like this before US

o Then man comes on the scene and the situation worsens. He who was put in charge of this place bows his knee to these fallen forces and the whole of the fabric of the world shakes and groans with the impact

„X And we, along with the world, long for release

I¡¦m sure the situation is far more complex than we can ever understand with our puny earth-bound minds

- so we are told all that we need to know or can understand by way of a story with fruit and snakes. It¡¦s truth. And it tells us:

o the world: physical and spiritual is fallen

o people need to come back to God because they have ¡¥eaten what the fruit symbolises¡¦ (our way rather than God¡¦s) and suffered the consequences

„X it¡¦s a cosmic, global and individual story and truth

So- this event should not surprise us. It¡¦s there in the Bible. There are examples like it in the Bible

- and Jesus does not seek to apportion individual blame or guilt

o neither should we (ie one area hit was an Al Kaida powerbase. One of the Islands in the Nocobar/Andaman archipelago was 90% Christian!)

- He does tell the man in Jn 5 that his sickness is part of his sinful, bad attitude. But wrt the Tower of Siloam and Jn 9 the man born blind: no!

Do you see how detached from Biblical Christianity we¡¦ve become?

- and so these things shock us when they happen

- but truth is they have ALWAYS happened (are not necc. Part of the ¡¥signs of the immanent end¡¦. ¡§These things will continue until the end¡K but do not be disturbed¡¨

So: are we the kind of Christian who thinks ¡¥these things are okay and my faith is okay when I don¡¦t know about them¡K and they don¡¦t affect me. But if they happen and, unfortunately, I am unable to stick my head in the sand quick enough then my faith is in jeopardy?¡¦

God still exists and is still love. Jesus is still Lord (particularly!) and the sacrificial lamb. It¡¦s still true (and if we really know the truth it¡¦s the only one that offers a consolation, I believe)

It¡¦s strange: Christians were never like this in history. This is a recent blight. It would have been unheard of for people to lose their faith because a parent dies (for example)

- this is truth! And I¡¦m not unsympathetic to their circumstances- how did you lose your faith? When mum died? How old? 85? Painful? No: peaceful.

- Says more of psychology than spirituality

How disconnected from reality have we become?!

- listen. If all goes well and we avoid all the possible things that could happen either Pam or I are going to wake up one morning next to a cold body or alone

Before her death in 1997, Jeanne Calment was the oldest living human whose age could be verified by official documentation. This remarkable French lady claimed she owed her longevity to chocolate, olive oil, and port wine. On her one hundred and twentieth birthday celebration, someone asked Ms. Calment, "What is your vision of the future?"

With a twinkle in her eye, Ms. Calment replied, "Very brief.

- and it¡¦s the same for all of us, really

I, you, we all are going to die!

- and dying as a Christian is not a tragedy: as this is NOT all there is!

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