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Mukholi on 30th August 2020
11.00 am Zoom - Holy Communion - St Martin’s Style
Our Concerns Opposed to God's
In the present
campaigns that are going on in the USA for the November 2020 elections, there
are many promises being made by the candidates. Security for everyone, law and
order, economic recovery, cure for coronavirus, establishing a proper American
health service, education, racial justice and equality and employment.
These are the concerns of human beings. Comfort and no difficulties or suffering. In our Gospel reading Matthew 16:21-28, The disciples voiced by Peter had just come to the realisation that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Here was the One spoken of by prophets many years ago as the one who would come and set Israel free and establish the Kingdom of heaven in Israel and beyond. Our mind like theirs craves safety, security, and comfort, instead of danger, confusion, and ambiguity.
So they expected one who would give them positions of power in the Messiah’s government, one who would give the what they needed and what they wanted, one who would take away all suffering and disappointments and set up a universal health care system for everyone and bring about a time of unsurpassed joy.
The disciples are shocked and disappointed when they hear Jesus talk about his death. This is not what they expected to hear. So Peter once again speaks up and tells Jesus off for such a negative idea of His death and resurrection. But Jesus turns and rebuffs Peter saying ‘Get behind me Satan’ and tells him the he is a stumbling block for God’s plan of Salvation. Just like during Jesus’ temptation Satan offered an easier comfortable way to bring salvation, the same idea is oozing through Peter. Jesus will stick to the narrow path. He will stick with suffering and death for the sake of the world. And He goes on to say that if anyone would be His disciple, they must take the same path of giving up their lives, their ambitions and priorities for the sake of the Kingdom.
Already, we live in a world that is broken and breaking and should not be surprised when we encounter all sorts of trouble and even suffering. There are raging fires, there are landslides, there are hurricanes and storms of all sorts. There are wars, breakdown of relationships, all kinds of diseases and pandemics. It is a tumultuous world.
So you might expect that when God comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ that He would do away with all these calamities and give us a comfortable and peaceful life that is without trouble without sickness, without suffering and without poverty. Sometimes when we experience these difficult trials or suffering, we may begin to wonder if our suffering is punishment from God. we find ourselves in difficulty or trial, it is easy to think we have been forgotten or rejected by God. Shouldn’t we have some wealth for security, Happiness, Self-development and Influence. After all what is life about? The clue is in Jesus’ phrase, “you do not have in mind the concerns of God,
but merely human concerns."vs23.
Like the disciples at this point God’s concerns and agenda are different from our concerns for safety and comfort. God’s concerns for this life is not necessarily our comfort. “God is not working for our comfort and ease; he is working on our growth.”
God’s ultimate goal for your life on Earth is not comfort but character development. It may be difficult to see how God is working on our character in the midst of difficult circumstances, but uses those very circumstances to mature us into a Christ like character. Sometimes we learn Christ’s patience when He sends difficult people into our life or into our church. He uses difficulty, pressure and suffering to chisel, chip, shape, sand and smooth. comfortable, trouble-free life? You have heard it said “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.". The coronavirus pandemic has made life very difficult for a lot of us but there have been a lot of good stories out of the pandemic:-
"Loss of job (due to COVID-19) coincided with the deteriorating health of my mother-in-law (late 80s). It has been a blessing to have the time to care for her and spend time together. She's been my rock for over 20 years. Now it is my turn to be hers.”
"I've been making reusable face masks along with other volunteers. They will be made available to people who cannot afford to buy them."
"I've been working my day job from home at my elderly mum's place and revamping her 50-year overgrown gardens. At 49yo, I had never gardened in my life until now!"
“For me, the pandemic chaos made me a better teacher. It forced me to be more creative with my lessons, more patient with my students and more adaptable and ready for a future in academia still undefined.”
We have also seen and heard stories of self-sacrifice or the good that comes from people cooperating to combat this pandemic. People in spite of their circumstances living their lives loving God and serving those who are not able to help themselves.
Paul in this letter to the Romans picks up that theme of living a sacrificial purposeful life.
- 10 Be devoted to one another in love.
Honour one another above yourselves.
- 12 Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.
- 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
- 14 Bless those who persecute you;
- 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
bless and do not curse.
live at peace with everyone
The Pandemic like every other calamity in the world will make us question our of confidence and concern for the economy, for money, for jobs, for healthcare, and all that the politics of this world may promise. None of these options are as secure as the unchanging nature of God. Our priorities must be self-denial and sacrificial love and service to one another, encouragement of the suffering and grieving, courageously learning the lessons of love even when we are rejected and persecuted.
These are God’s concerns and priorities.
“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will”. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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