Sermon for Sunday January 26, 2020
Passages: Isaiah 58:13-59:7; 1 Timothy 4:12-5:10; John 3:13-21
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Imagine yourself standing on the first floor of the tallest building in the world in front of the elevator heading to the top. The bell dings, and the doors open wide. You and another individual enter the elevator and press the button for the top floor. To break the awkward silence, you strike up a conversation. As you speak, you realize the stranger is looking at the cross around your neck and asks very bluntly, “so what is it that you actually believe?” How would we answer? We only have a short time to explain what it is that we believe, and perhaps God is using us in that moment to share our faith. What is our elevator pitch about what we believe?
We don’t often think about how we would explain our faith to others. In truth, even wearing a cross around our necks isn’t a statement of faith today. For some it’s an accessory or fashion statement; for other’s it’s a good luck charm equal to a 4-leaf clover or rabbits foot. But our faith and the cross that we bear is much more than a simple belief or good luck charm. So what is it?
A popular answer that many evangelicals may use is quoting John 3:16, which we read today, “for God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son…” And while this is not wrong, arguably, it falls short of what it is that we believe. The reason I would argue it falls short is because it seems very egocentric. Yes, God loves the world yet, God’s love is not limited to this world only but rather all creation, the cosmos as our Church father’s say. A love that neither art, science nor philosophy can explain. An impossible love that demands self-sacrifice and humility.
My dears, God’s love for the cosmos is not merely what is defined on ink and paper as written in the Gospels, where we may so easily quote. God’s love is defined in the second person of the Holy Trinity – Christ Jesus, who humbled himself, becoming human and dying on the cross, not only for you and me, not only for this world, but for all creation. Why is this distinction so important? Understanding that God’s love and the sacrifice of Christ Jesus was for all creation raises into question our treatment of creation, how do we take care of our environments, our cities, our homes; how do we treat animals, how do we treat other people? Even further, how to do we treat the planets and stars? “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”(Psalm 19:1 NIV). If Jesus only died for me and you, as humans we limit that me and you to by our statues or clothes or presence in this Church. But when we say Christ died for all creation, it means even those who are not equal to us according to society, even those people who we don’t agree with, even those who are outside of this Church, all creation means all creation. Christ came for everyone and everything, in order to redeem the cosmos and now we, who are also called children of God, are charged as caretakers of that creation, of the cosmos.
My dears, this life, much like that elevator ride is shorter than we think and God is using us in every moment to share our faith with the entire world and all creation. Our answer, our elevator pitch is not merely our own perception of Christianity, but it should be the living embodiment of what Christ Jesus did out of a grand love, a love we must imitate. To be a Christian is not about being an accessory or good luck charm in this world. It is to about creating, fueling, loving and blessing all creation through the person of Christ Jesus not through philosophy, but through application; not through positive thoughts but with impossible love; not through coming to Church once a week, but by going out into the world and living out faith everyday.
My dears, God so loved everyone and everything, He gave his one and only Son. And I invite us to give time to ponder what that means and how do we live out that love likewise, so that when the elevator dings, and the doors open wide and we must give an answer, our life in Christ Jesus will speak for itself to all creation about the love of God, Amen!