The world is in the throes of weird times. COVID. Lockdown. Racism. Almost sixty nights of rioting in Portland, Seattle, Chicago.
Everything feels amped up, wearing masks, even opening schools. Everyone has an opinion.
But differing opinions aren't well tolerated. We can't have different opinions and love one another. It seems people are trying to tear everyone apart.
Times are weird but the church needs to shine in weird, wonky times.
If Christians are to minister well to others, we need to elevate our vision, our faith and hope beyond the fray of what is seen to our Lord who is not seen,
1 Timothy 6:15 He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
If Christians are to minister well to this world, we also need to know how the world operates.
People have rejected the true God who made us, and knows us best. So understand, the world operates out of a deficit of truth and knowledge.
But the God that people have rejected is love, so they don't trust the One who gave His own life that they may know Him based entirely on His one-way, sacrificial love, even when we fail Him, even as we're ugly to Him.
Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man... 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
This is comforting to us. I mean if He loves like this when we identified with our sins, imagine now that we identify with Christ who's flung our sins far away?
But the devil has blinded people to this. So people live out of a deficit of truth and a deficit of love.
By cutting God's Word out of public conversation, people cut their ears off from hearing God tell them who they are and why they matter so much. So the world operates on another deficit regarding personal worth and significance.
This is where people are coming from. Often lacking knowledge of the truth. Lacking an objective sense worth and significance. Not always feeling loved, secure, protected.
This is why people keep making bad choices, self-inflicted wounds. It’s the nature of sin. Actions are rooted in a God-given need that remains unfulfilled.
Sin warps and distorts our vision of God.
Remember, last week, Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven" but rather than hear this as a warm invitation to intimate friendship with the Father, sin twists the words, "I forgive you," into an accusation, "You've failed. You're not enough."
And yet, this is what Jesus offers: forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.
The forgiveness of sins is the first act in an entirely new and eternally wonderful relationship with the God who is and acts in love.
1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Nobody that believes the Bible, doubts the Father's great love for His Son. Jesus Himself said, "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand." At His baptism, the Father publicly declared His love for Jesus, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Yet God's Spirit tells us, as great as the Father loves the Son, He gave His Son for you! What is your worth before God? By His grace, you're worth His Son.
So there's a choice. Is God telling the truth or is He lying? Who do you trust?
Jesus says, "Because of My Father's great love for you, He has sent Me to you, and I've laid down My life to save you." The world says, "You're a liar! You prevent us from doing what we want. So, away with Him. 'Crucify Him!'"
1 John 2:22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?
This gives us a choice. Who is lying and who is telling the truth? We believe that God is telling the truth and the truth is in Jesus. So is God's mercy, pardon, eternal life; a great destiny; no fear of condemnation.
Again the choice is presented to us in no uncertain terms,
1 John 5:10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
Church, let's believe God when He tells us He loves us, and Jesus died for us. And let's be open to God moving us to declare this to others, as Paul did,
Acts 13:38 Therefore let it be known to you… that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
We understand that because of sin, people are blind to this. They can’t see this. So our role is to see Jesus for them, and to share with them what we see.
God's response to our weird times is Jesus, bearing their sin on the cross, and Jesus, risen from the dead, standing before them, with His arms wide open.
Whatever their sin. Whatever their political leaning. Whatever their opinion on masks. Hoping schools open soon for the children's sake, or wishing them closed for their grandparent's sake. Glad to see the social justice in cities like Portland, Seattle, Chicago, or seeing no justice in Portland, Seattle, Chicago.
Jesus had a different view from everyone on most everything…
But Jesus didn’t come to judge people. Nor did He merely tolerate sinners, no He befriended them; He gave His life for them. Why, because of God's great love…
The Father loves you with a one-way love, which means you can't earn it you can only receive it and that once you do you can't mess it up. However awful you act, however slow you are to change you can never change His opinion of you, or sway God from being for you, even if you don't love Him all that well.
Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is God's promise to you who believe. While sin in the human heart looks for loopholes, "Of course we can do something to turn Him way." I.e., I am not convinced. God says look again at Jesus and be convinced that He brings you into the same type of relationship with the Father that He has.
John 15:9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. [With the same love the Father loves Him, Jesus loves us.]
Trust opens us up to a genuine relationship with God.
But get what He wants you to trust first, His love, His forgiveness.
The Father in heaven wants you to trust what He's willing to pay for you, who He's willing to sacrifice to have you with Him forevermore. He wants you to trust Him, and His Son…
Let that sink in. Is Jesus trustworthy? Are you willing to trust God for all this?
That's the starting place...
Once you trust Him for this, your sins are no longer even the issue, instead grow to know God and face all of life trusting His commitment to love you.
As we get to know Him better, we come to trust that He's so much more for us than the One who loves and forgives us, yet He'll never be anything less.