June 23, 2013
Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sermon
Psalm 91, Lamentations 3:22-33, Matthew 10:22-39
Fourth Sunday after Trinity
June 23, 2013
Christians, believe. Christians love. Christians pray. These have been the subjects of the sermons to this point in Trinity. Today we continue looking at what Christians do, and the topic is, “Christians See.”
Of all the senses God gave us, one of the most valued is the sense of sight. I admit many people do quite well without sight, and I have even heard of people who are thankful that they have lost their sight. Being blind, they say, has enabled them to wean themselves from much of the frivolities of life, and to focus on those things that are important, especially relationships. They have found out how important others are in their lives, and how they had taken them for granted. Many have said their blindness has forced them to grow closer to God. Thus, they say, blindness has been a blessing to them. I have heard other people say the same about serious illnesses, and other circumstances most would consider devastating. “I learned to trust God,” they say. “I have learned to be content in Him.” I have learned that “all things work for good to those who love God.”
I think this is part of what Jesus was saying to the disciples in Matthew 10. He was getting ready to send them on their first preaching mission, and He wanted them to know what was ahead of them, and He wanted them to trust in God, not themselves. So He sent them without money, without food, without a change of clothing. Nor should they expect to be well fed and well treated by their fellow Jews. On the contrary, He said, “they will scourge you in their synagogues,” “And ye shall be hated of all men.” Thus, today’s reading in Matthew very appropriately ended with the words of verses 38 and 39;
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Christians “see” this. We understand it. We “see” the world. Of course I am talking about spiritual sight here, not physical sight, and with this spiritual sight, Christians see the world as it is. We are not fooled by romantic books, movies, and music, which picture the world in fairy tale goodness. We see the world has much good and many opportunities for happiness, but we also know it has its trials and troubles, and we will face them. C.S. Lewis wrote of a friend, he was “tried by all the usual sorrows and anxieties.” We know we will be, too. We know there will be “wars and rumours of wars,” and “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places.” Therefore, we try to be emotionally and spiritually prepared. “See that ye be not troubled,” said Christ speaking of these things, “for all these things must come to pass” (Mt. 24:6).
Christians see humanity as it is. We have no false, romantic notions about the natural goodness of man, or the perfectibility of man. We do see that man is capable of, and has accomplished, much good. We also see how much of that good has been destroyed by wars and crime and corruption. We see the reason for locks on doors, police, government, and armies: there are bad people in this world would do others harm, so we organize these things for our mutual protection.
Christians see man’s natural opposition to God. Have you ever been surprised at peoples’ antipathy to the Bible? Here is the story of God’s love, of Him bearing our sins on the cross and saving people from Hell and giving them meaning and hope, now and forever, and people don’t want to hear it. They resent it. Many even hate it. I saw a news article about a group of people, I don’t know who or where, but they were carrying signs with slogans like, “If Jesus comes back, kill Him again.” People find the Gospel offensive. They still want to scourge us in their synagogues, and we are still hated of all men.
There is, therefore, no paradise on earth. There are no Mayberrys, no Walton’s Mountains, no places where all people are friendly and kind, where you don’t have to lock your doors, or worry about your children’s safety. Nor do we expect the policies of Man to create peace on earth or alleviate our woes. We know human solutions often cause more problems than they solve.
Christians see our own sin. We do not claim to be better, or smarter, or morally superior to any one else. We see that the tendencies of self-centeredness, greed, and disdain of the will of God exists in us, too. And we see that we have indulged these tendencies in ways that have hurt others, and hurt ourselves. We see the truth of the words of the Bible written in Romans 3:23, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And, if we have not gone as far into evil as some have gone, we see that it is only the grace of God that kept us from it, not some innate goodness or wisdom in us.
But Christians “see” something else. We are enabled to see beyond human frailty, and even beyond the limits of physical creation. We are enabled to see the hand of God guiding the course of history, and our own lives. We see that He is guiding us toward the day when He will end the world as it is, and make it new again. There won’t be any wars then, or poverty, or injustice, illness, death, or evil. Such things will be only dim memories then, for God will bring all things together in Christ Jesus, into an everlasting era of joy and peace.
It is because Christians “see” these things that our lives are different now. We intentionally live in this world in a way that prepares us for the next one. We know life is short, and the earthly treasures we work for and value now will soon be taken from our grasp. So we lay up treasures in Heaven, treasures that will endure forever. We want to live in such a way that “we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal.” “Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”