Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Word

          Have you been to that point where you just can’t take it anymore and you just want to throw in the towel? Have you ever thought I can’t do this? I quit! It’s just too hard trying to be like Jesus!
          Have you ever sat down and read all the laws in Leviticus and then thought, “How did anyone ever imagine that they could keep every one of these laws?” The Ten Commandments or Ten Laws that God inscribed on the stone tablets for Moses and the Israelite people are difficult enough. There isn’t one person alive who’s ever succeeded in keeping all the laws.
          And yet we look at our neighbors and wonder how they can hold their heads up as they walk down the street. We know every thing they’ve ever done because it’s been all the talk at the coffee shop.
          We never stop to think that maybe another coffee group is talking about us because they know every wrong we’ve ever committed. Oh, we think no one knows but everyone knows everything.
          The truth is no one is perfect. No one has, no matter what they say, ever kept all the commandments. Every single person in the world has sinned and yet we put them down and talk about them and ostracize them to the point that they’re embarrassed to even come into our churches to worship and beg God for forgiveness.
          The Pharisees were questioning Jesus about his disciple’s hygiene habits. How could they do that, not wash their hands before they ate? It’s a sin, that’s what they said. How could Jesus not notice and not correct them? He must not be a very good rabbi if they can’t even follow the most basic laws. Everyone knows you should wash your hands before you take a bite of food.
          Now before we all go on and think that we’re better than them let’s just stop and consider what we talked about at coffee yesterday or this morning.  Let’s face it we’re no better than those Pharisees.
          Yep, we’re all a bunch of sinners and it’s a wonder that anyone would want to come in and worship with us, all misfits and yet God invites us to come in and be forgiven. And he asks us to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. We forget that part sometimes.
          So, what’s the Good News for us today? The good news is that we’ve all been forgiven through the sacrifice God made in Jesus Christ.
          But it doesn’t end with us being forgiven. Our work isn’t complete just because we’ve said that we believe Jesus is God’s Son and he died for our sins. We can’t retire from this labor just because we come to worship every Sunday and listen to the preacher. We’re not done just because we’ve been doing this our whole lives. We’re not done yet.
          None of it matters at all if we aren’t living what we speak. Our lives aren’t worth a plug nickel if we aren’t taking Jesus’ words to heart and caring for the homeless, the poor, the widows, the children of our neighbors who are addicted to the demons of alcohol and pills. If we aren’t trying to live the words we speak then we aren’t the people we think we are.
          We won’t get it perfect. We will make mistakes but if we don’t do anything at all then it doesn’t matter. This living like Jesus is more than mere words. In order for it to mean anything we’ve got to walk the talk.
          But we have to be careful because we might begin to think that if we do this or that then we’ve earned our way into God’s company. There’s nothing we can do to get on God’s good side.
          It’s all grace. It’s all up to God and we are saved only through his grace. And isn’t it a wonder that he’d want any of us?
          But for some reason he loves us. He’s peeping through the window and peeking through the fence to see how we’re doing. He’s inviting us to come and play with him.
          So many times we get the mistaken idea that to follow this life of Jesus is a burden, a life of sacrifice. Who’d want that? But friends God is a lover and he doesn’t want any to be lost, not one soul.
          We are his hands and his feet. He’s called us and he’s expecting us to help him bring others along on this journey.
          So, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Don’t think that you have to keep all the laws. All God expects is that we love him with our whole being and love our neighbors like we’d like to be cared for. Still not exactly the easiest thing to do but God isn’t expecting us to be perfect.
          Remember, he knows us. He sees us everyday. And yet he forgives us when we come to him.
          So, good friends, take in God’s word, let it take root deep within your soul, and then share God’s love with everyone you meet using the gifts he’s given you.
          Thanks be to God for his loving, forgiving grace. Amen.

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