Monday, August 12, 2013

Faith... Between the Lightning and the Thunder

 Audio (2:23 min)

Someone once said that we live as christian people... we live between lightning and thunder.  What's the lightning?  The lightning is Christ.  The coming of Christ.  The flash of divine brilliance that came into the world in Jesus of Nazareth.  But now we're waiting.  We're waiting for that thunder.  Which is the end, the culmination.

We as christian people are people who live in the time between the times.  We live in that moment when the lightning has illuminated the world, our lives, and yet the culmination, the final stroke of power has not yet arrived.  Now when you're in that moment after the lightning flashes, what's that feel like?  It feels like a  ......huhAhhhhh.     ...   That's what the new testament's trying to talk about when it talks about the christian life ... what Jesus's trying to talk about ... that's the kind of attitude that the christian church is called to have in this world.

And so as people who live between the times, we are called to have a kind of posture of expectation, of waiting.  The bible talks about being in the world but not of the world.  Remember that language? Yeah, we fall in love with it [the world] far too easily and far too quickly and far too deeply at times don't we?  And when we do we start to think that everything depends on us.  That's the message we hear all the time is that it's all on our shoulders.  And that's what the world turns in to when it loses real hope.  It all falls back on us.

And then into that kind of a world and to people like you and me, Jesus says, "Don't be afraid little flock.  Your father has decided to give you His kingdom."    ...   Huh?  ... So I take a step back and I take a deep breath and I try to, I try to hear those words in a world of loss, a world of demand, a world of fear.  And by the miracle of the Holy Spirit, and by the miracle of God's grace among us in His Word ...  those words create something.  Suddenly, trust is born.  It's called faith.


 Audio (1:37 min)

I was going to take out a key, as I have here, and I was going to say, "OK, there's a door here."  And we need to get through the door. [But] there's a problem.  There has to be a key.  Oh, here's a key!   But there's another problem.  The lock is on the outside, and we're on the inside.  So what good does this key do me now?  So what has to happen if I'm going to walk through the door?  And the answer is ... somebody on the outside has to open the lock.

That's what faith is!  Faith is not me opening the lock on the inside.  Faith is God continuing to open the lock on the OTHER SIDE.  The future coming toward us.  That's what the resurrection of Jesus means.  The future is let out ahead of time, so we can have confidence that even as Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life, the bible says.  Not because we crank up our faith and turn the key, but because we stand in trust in all the circumstances of life and wait for God to open the door.  And doesn't He?  Isn't that your experience as a christian?

Isn't that what it really means as a christian to live by faith and trust?  That God will bring His future in His time for each and all of us, and for the whole creation.  When the thunder finally rattles and rolls.


 Audio (2:15 min)

That's why Jesus can say, to this beleaguered band and young men, His disciples, who are about to face the greatest test of their lives, "Don't be afraid."  Don't be afraid little, vulnerable, flock, when the powers set themselves against you.  For your Father in heaven has decided ... has made the decision ... to give you the kingdom.

Well if THAT'S what's in store ... then [Martin] Luther would write, "Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.  The body they may kill.  God's truth abidest still.  His kingdom lives forever. "  Remember that verse from "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"?  That's what he was talking about.  Let the world roll over you if it has to.  Let it have its works and its ways.  So what!  God has chosen to give us the kingdom.

That's what christians sing about and celebrate.  At least they used to.  I guess some of us still do.  For that's the heart of our message.  Jesus Christ crucified for sinners.  Crucified for people like you and me.  Who live in fear.  Who take life into our own hands, who think it all depends on us, and we live and act like it.  ... And was raised from death three days later.  And to say it was all done for you.  That when the [your] crosses come, and the suffering comes, and the struggles come, and the heartaches come, and the losses come, you may know and trust and believe, that they are not greater than the promises of God in Jesus Christ.

That at the end of the day is what the christian faith is all about.  It's daring to trust.  And we dare to do so, not because we have demonstrated to ourselves the verity and the veracity of this trust, but because as Paul says beautifully ... "The Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts through Jesus Christ."  And knowing Him, and having the confidence of His presence among us, we can dare to trust His Word, and face every day and tomorrow that comes.

-- Pastor Mark Anderson
You can access the full 17 minute sermon: here