Summary: Sermon about not taking God or the church for advantage
As I looked over today’s Gospel reading I was reminded of the time I have spent as the treasurer of the local ministerial association. Throughout my time in that position I have met many people in various conditions in life.
One of the interesting things that always struck me is how people seek out the church when they are in trouble. For instance, I remember a family in the Schaller area who called us one winter night right before Christmas. They had been unable to pay their electric bill and the heat was soon to be shut off. Well we (the pastors in the ministerial association) talked it over and we helped pay half of the heating bill. Luann and I even bought their children some Christmas presents. However in the days following, neither the ministerial association nor the churches we represented heard anything from family in the way of thanks.
On the other hand there have been some who have either written a note of thanks or visited the church when they came back through. They offered their thanks for helping them when they were in need.
In our Gospel reading we see ten sick people come to Jesus to ask for healing, and when this happens only one comes back and gives praise to God. Why? It is obvious they all believed that Jesus could heal them, so why did Jesus’ blessing only extend to this one man?
Well in one sense, the other nine may have taken his ability to heal them for granted. They had heard about Jesus, some may have even seen him performing miracles. They probably figured Jesus was obligated to heal them, and the priests to pronounce them clean.
However there was one man who had a different outlook on the matter. He came back thank Jesus and gave thanks to God. Why? Who was this man?
Well for one we know he was a Samaritan. Which means he was despised by the Judeans, so to be healed by one seemed a miracle in itself. For this man who had suffered so long from this skin disease, he knew he was in the presence of something far greater than anything he had ever experienced. No longer would he be shunned by his own people.
Moreover he heard the message through Jesus’ words to him, “Your faith has saved you.” With those words the man now would know that God had not abandoned him either.
God had removed the stain of sin that had so crippled his life. God has done the same for each and everyone of us. Because of this cleansing the man knew he was free and he wanted to tell all about his new lease on life.
What about the others, they were cured. Didn’t they receive God’s Grace also? Yes they received God’s Grace and were cured of their illness. However the difference is they did not give thanks to God. While they appreciated what had been done for them, they did not show thanks for it.
Let us put this into a modern perspective. How many people do you think thank their doctor for the work they do? How about the school teachers or any other service professional?
Now how many people do you suppose thank the United States Government for providing services for them? Oh sure many people give thanks for the soldiers and the services they provide, but what about the Social Security Office? How about the work many of those people do to make sure single mothers and their children have proper health care in times of need?
I would bet not many. Why? Because it is expected of the government, right? It’s the governments’ responsibility to provide a way for people to get proper health care. How about it is the way a proper and just government should treat its own people.
Unfortunately, too many people relate to the “Nine”, rather than the one. Too many people have taken for granted as well as advantage of the services provided by the goodness of our government’s generosity and sense of duty. Unfortunately these people feel that it is their right to receive these services rather than a gift stewardship from their government.
The government is only one example. There are many other institutions in which this is done. So often our younger generations feel that the church they grew up in will always be there. How many of you in your youth ever imagined that the churches you have grown up in, maybe married in and spent most of your lives in would ever be dwindled to a flicker of what it used to be?
This happens all too often. Churches that were once the lighthouses of their communities are now just another building on the corner. This is also true in the way some people have come to see God. They only think of God when they are in trouble or when somebody they really care about is deathly ill. Maybe one in ten might turn their lives over to Christ fully. The rest, go on with their lives and barely think of God, except maybe on Sundays or around the holidays.