Monday, November 21, 2011

Who Are We?

Lately I’ve been thinking about who I am, why I’m here, and how can I know God better?

Today’s scriptures are about who we are and whose we are. I know, two of the passages are about sheep and goats but they’re really about who we are, what kind of people are we, and…whose people we are.

So, there may be more questions today than answers but maybe our questions will help us understand who we are and why we are.

We believe that we’re here, worshipping, because God called us here. But what about the ones who aren’t here? Didn’t God call them? Were they deaf to the sound of his Voice? Why isn’t everyone here? Are they just ignoring His call? Why aren’t they here?

God is speaking in the reading from Ezekiel about searching for the scattered sheep. When he finds them he will care for them; he will save them from all the dangers they have been exposed to when they were scattered. He will put them in a safe place where they will find nourishment and shelter. He will search for the lost and bring back those who’ve strayed. He will heal those who’ve been injured and…he will destroy those sheep that are fat and strong. He will tend all his sheep with fairness. Who are we?

Who are we? Are we the scattered and the lost or are we the fat and sassy sheep who push with their hips and shoulders those who are hungry and hurt? Who are we?

Who are the chosen Paul is talking about? He says the chosen are those who are in Christ. Who are we? Who are we?

To begin with no one, absolutely no one, knows the mind of God. But, what if God chose everyone to be in Christ? Then, why aren’t they here with us?

Could it be because they weren’t invited? Did we forget to ask them to come? Are their invitations still lying on the table at home? Is it our fault they’re not here?

The sheep God gathered and brought back home were scattered because they failed to keep God’s commandments. They were being disciplined because they had turned a deaf ear to his Word; they refused to live as he’d commanded. But when they cried out to him he heard them and brought them back home where he could tend to their wounds, where he could make them whole again. Are those who aren’t here not crying out to God?

The other sheep, and the goats, are those who will be judged by Christ on the Last Day. The nations are brought before the Son of Man to be judged, not just one person at a time, but nations. Some are welcomed in and some are cast out in the outer darkness. Who are we?

Neither group knew until the final judgment why. One group was admitted in because they had done something and the other was cast out because they had failed to do something. Sheep and goats, dogs and cats, Americans and Mexicans, meat and vegetables, gay or straight, white or black-decisions, choices all of us make. What do these choices make us? Who are we? Are we chosen?

Sometimes, actually most times, when I read the passage about the sheep and the goats I wonder will I be judged as a sheep or a goat. And I wonder sometimes, “Are the things I do good enough to get me admitted?” Don’t you wonder the same thing, sometimes?

But, then I remember it’s not about anything you and I do. It’s all grace, God’s grace. I think Paul in his letter to the people of Ephesus helps us understand when he states, “…you will know that God's power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the and put him at his right side in the heavenly world. God has put Christ over all rulers, authorities, powers, and kings, and every title that can be given, not only in this world but also in the next. God put everything under his power and made him the head over everything for the church…”

Everything is under Jesus’ control. Since He clothed himself with our sins and died for them, then we are able clothe ourselves in Christ. So when he looks out at us gathered as nations he sees us as his children. Not perfect but made perfect through his sacrifice.

I believe that it’s when we accept Jesus into our hearts and commit ourselves to living like him that all this takes place.

But, I still wonder who I am in Christ. I still want some assurance that God has forgiven me for all my sins and that he lives in my heart. Don’t you?

I still desire a closer relationship with God, and sometimes I don’t feel it. But once in a while I do and that gives me hope.

So, have we answered the question or not? I’m not sure but hopefully we’ve moved a little closer to understanding why we’re here.

I believe it’s the same as I said last Sunday. We’re here to love God and love and serve our neighbors in Jesus’ great name. That’s the why of it.

Will we be perfect? Probably not but everyday we should strive toward that perfect love.

Friends, know this, God loves you and so do I. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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