It’s interesting to watch one or two year old children with birthday or Christmas presents. Once the package is open they often set the toy aside and are more interested in playing with the paper wrapping or crawling inside the box the gift came in. They don’t realizes the cost of the toy, all that it might allow them to do, or the fun they can have with it. A lot of times people are like those children. Jesus told the parable of a king giving a wedding banquet for his son. It was magnificent. Everything was prepared, and servants were sent to call the invited guests.(Luke 14:15f) One by one the guests began to make excuses. They were too busy, they had important business to attend to, and so on. Jesus extends to all people the greatest invitation possible. In His own life He has done everything necessary to share His joy now and eternally. Yet far too often people are more interested in playing with the boxes and wrapping than the gift itself. Let that not be so among us, and let us show the joy of Jesus’ life to others.
What a world! Church leaders resign over allegations…, courts overturn laws approved by the majority…, a pastor under fire for a conservative values sermon preached…, religious persecution in many places…, Islamic extremists murdering all opponents…, and the news goes on. What are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to do in the midst of such a world? Well, it is really not a lot different from the days our Lord first entered our world. The Lord’s people are called first, to know what they believe and why, and then to be willing to stand on that belief in all of life’s situations. It is easy to become confused, frightened, and overwhelmed by events, but our calling is always the same. A few weeks ago our children’s sermon leader led our kids in the simple song “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” She then got the whole congregation to join in, and yes, along with the hand motions, too! But that is really where we are. That is really where we have always been in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world. By God’s grace that light has made us alive, and by God’s grace we let others see that light in whatever life’s situations bring.
The name of the site from which these messages are sent is Life’s Meaning Ministry. I chose that very intentionally. Not that I have any great psychological insight, but meaning and purpose for life is something that so many struggle with today. I think it is why much of society has gone in a hedonistic direction. We seek all the pleasure in life that we can get, and if God exists He will take care of us when we die. But this provides a very shallow meaning for life. Many of Jesus parables began, “the Kingdom of Heaven is like…” The preaching of Jesus and the Apostles began “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” It was the truth of God’s Kingdom that gave meaning to all daily life. Almighty God has broken into our world in Jesus Christ. There is more to life than what we apprehend with our physical senses. There is a vast realm of God that we will occupy when our earthly life concludes. It is that life we are preparing for now. We already live in God’s Kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no greater meaning than to see our earthly life as one part of the eternal life for which God has created us.
It is rather overcast this morning. We always feel better when the sun is out. Somehow, that light and warmth penetrates deep into our being. Today we can even buy lamps that match the color temperature of natural sunlight so that we can feel better when we are inside on bad weather days. The sun’s light is important to us. In Scripture the sun is symbolic of Jesus, the Son. It is Jesus who gives light and life to the world. Even further Jesus said, “you are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:16) He meant that because of Him, God’s love is at work in us to bring forth His nature in our lives. We are to reflect that love to others. By our life and actions, people should see His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and all that is part of Jesus’ nature. We don’t do it perfectly, but when people are around Christians, they should feel something of Christ’s warmth penetrating them. We are to be the light of the Son to our world.
Columbus Day recognizes the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. It also highlights the quest for discovery. The actual record of what the new arrivals did when they got here is quite a mixed bag, but that is a whole other story. What is notable here is that there is something in mankind that drives him to discover. Whether it was the quest by sea to the west centuries ago, or our current desire to explore Mars, we are driven to discovery. One of the current Nobel winners received the prize for a microscope technique that allows observation down to the molecular level. What does all of this say about us? I think it is another of the many marks of being created by God and for God. We could say that it is part of God’s image moving us to share in His creative activity. Or we might say that, because of sin, we are separated from God, and are seeking to discover our way to return. There are other answers, but it does leave us something to ponder as we think about who we are and who God created us to be. And further, how do we use this drive to bring honor to His name?
We have seen a deluge of automobile recall notices recently. There were five just for cars in our family. Three of them were on my ’91 Ford! As you have learned, I’m prone to errors in spelling, or missing letters at ends of words. Yesterday, I had to send out a rather important letter that was copied to two other individuals. After mailing, I discovered I had used the wrong first name of the man I was writing about. The error was easily corrected, but it cost me time, postage, and e-mails of explanation. My point – small mistakes, errors, short cuts, sins, at one point, can cause bigger problems on down the line, problems that can be very costly. So it is with any sin, even those things we label as “not so bad”. We will never be free from them in this life. I sure won’t, but it calls us to humility in all we do, and a willingness to repent before God and others as necessary. Life is difficult and complicated, and as a society we continue to make it even more so. Our God has come into the midst of this world inviting us to walk humble with Him, seeking His wisdom in all we do.
Christians are people who are living in two worlds. One world is the visible realm we occupy. The other is the, no less real, spiritual realm of God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom is mentioned over 125 times in the four Gospels. The preaching of John, Jesus, and all the Apostles began, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” With the incarnation of Almighty God in Jesus Christ, the heavenly spiritual realm of God Kingdom broke into this visible physical realm. With the resurrection of Jesus from the dead we have the assurance that these two realms cannot be separated. Each day we go about our normal routine, doing, to the best of our ability, all the earthly things the day requires. But our strength, our endurance, our desire to live and serve, our very life, comes from the unseen and spiritual realm of God’s Kingdom. We are citizens of that Kingdom now, each day and every day.(Philippians 3:20) That is who you are, dear Christian. Know that your are walking in the light of Christ’s Kingdom today.