Sunday, June 13, 2021

Romans 6:6-11; Third Sunday after Pentecost; Jun 13, 2021

Romans 6:6-11; Third Sunday after Pentecost; Jun 13, 2021 Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN; “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6–11, ESV)Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; I love living here in the United States. Where else in the world am I able to be my own man, independent, and self-reliant? There’s no one around that dare tell me how to live my life, or how to take care of my family. I’ve become successful through my own sweat; my own hard work… there’s nowhere in the world that that pays off like here. I’ve sacrificed for the things I wanted, and no one’s is going to take that away from me. I could live and be alone, a strong individual, like the Marlboro Man I really don’t need anyone. Above all else, whatever you do, don’t look on me as helpless or powerless. That is one thing I am not… powerless. I prove it everyday. I approach my work with the attitude that gets it done. I may not be the strongest guy around, but there’s more to power than brute strength. There’s knowing how to get the job done, knowing how to work the system… lots of times, knowledge is power. When things get tough, the tough look to me for direction. And that’s power. I don’t let emotions cloud my judgment. They make you weak and as I told you before above all, I’m not weak. When decisions have to be made strong people make them without the influence of all that emotion. I can defend myself, too. If I have to, I can take the licks and survive, but if you come against me, you’d better be careful. I’ll come back and when I do, I’ll strike hard. My family is safe with me around. I’m not weak and powerless as far as defense is concerned. Just in case you didn’t catch what I’ve been saying I’ll say it again. I’m my own man, independent, strong and powerful. But… lately I’ve been beginning to wonder about all that. Lot’s is happening in the world that I really don’t have any control over. And somehow it all seems to be closing in on us here. The Global Pandemic has had a large affect on the feeling. Believe in it or not, it has been impossible to change what has happened. Businesses struggle to get workers, out of fear, or because they can make more on unemployment. There are no foreign workers to work here, it only adds to the problem. And now, just as things are lightening up, new strains are popping up. Makes me feel out of control. The flood of immigrants that are coming across the boarder is staggering. Are terrorists gathering? Have we forgotten World Trade Center towers? What is the next target? Mall of America? USA Today said that a dirty nuke, that’s a bomb with radioactive medical waste blows up at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, the fallout will pretty much make that city unusable for centuries. How can I stop one crazy person who’s willing to strap 20 pounds of dynamite and nuclear waste around themselves? And there’s more that this powerful guy can’t seem to get a handle on. I’ve seen it all around, people get sick… the list of people we pray for each week with cancer continues to grow. That nasty disease brings strong men to their knees… but the worst part is that you just don’t know who’s next. I’m a strong guy, as I said, but who can stand up against and invisible enemy that attacks you from inside. The more I think about it, I’m not really all that powerful after all. My independence is really a sham; I need people around me all the time. Not just to watch my back, but also to be there for me, because when I really think about it, I am helpless and weak… powerless… But… You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Did that say what I think it said? When we were powerless? When I was powerless, Christ died for me? I see, that’s what the Good News of Jesus Christ is all about isn’t it? I was I am powerless, but God is powerful. Not only that but even more than that, St. Paul writes that we were God’s enemies, enemies deserving His wrath and punishment. That independence that I show highly prize is really an affront to God. When I try to live my life on my own, I disregard the creator and ultimate provider, “I don’t need you, God! I don’t need other people that you have provided for me!” we say. God’s enemies… that puts powerless in another interesting light. We are all truly powerless standing before God in our rejection of him. And what does Paul say, for a righteous man someone would rarely die, but that’s exactly what Jesus did. And we were hardly righteous or even good. We were God’s enemies! And yet, Jesus Christ died for me, powerless, helpless, and pathetic me! Powerless, helpless and pathetic you! Just exactly did the death of Jesus Christ accomplish? Michael Powers tell the following story in Allison Bottke’s book “God Allows U-Turns.” Brian “was a special education student at the small high school I attended. He was constantly searching for love and attention. It usually cam for the wrong reasons, from students who wanted to have some ‘fun.’ He was the joke of the school…” Mike defended Brian, even had him over to the house. “Hey, Mike,” Brian asked. “How come you’re not like some of the other kids at school?” Mike told him about the love of God the Father. “Brian really opened up to me. He explained that his dad had left him and his mom when he was five years old. He told Brian that he couldn’t deal with having a son like him anymore, then he walked out of Brian’s life and was never seen again. Brian told me that he had been looking for his dad ever since. “Now I knew why the tears kept flowing that day in my bedroom. His search was over. He found what he had been looking for since he was five years old. A Father’s love. “He would never again be alone.” When we were alone and powerless, God the Father showed His great love for me by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to death on the cross, to make me His own children. He showed me a Father’s love; a love that would sacrifice everything, especially when I was helpless and alone. He sacrificed the life of Jesus to satisfy the judgment that was mine as God’s enemy. He made Jesus his enemy instead of me; and He made me His child. It was a simple exchange. But that isn’t all; because God approved of Jesus perfect sacrifice, He raised Him from death to life again. That too is a promise to me. So, what about all those things that I can’t control; Pandemic, terrorists, illnesses that are lurking around out there looking for me? I’m helpless in the face of them, but God is my Father. He has done everything for me. He has made me his own child. I’ve been “reconciled” Paul said. What reconciliation! I’ve gone from God’s enemy to God’s child. I guess there’s nothing I can do about the terrorists, the bomb may go of in Asia, and cancer might be in my future. I am helpless, powerless… but really, it’s a good thing that I am because being powerless is being dependent, and I’m as dependent as I can be on my Heavenly Father. I’m as dependent as I can be on him and his promises. I will be saved because of Jesus Christ. Have you been feeling alone, helpless and powerless lately? Maybe you don’t show it, but there’s a lot going on these days that can make you feel that way. Well, all that I’ve been talking about for me is true for you too. God, the Father, has also reconciled you through the death of Jesus Christ! When you were powerless, when you needed it the most, Jesus Christ sacrificed everything to restore you, and make you a child of God again. And all those things you may be worrying about, well they might seem powerful but not compared to the love of God, the love that God the Father has showered down on you! Amen. The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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