Sermon Series Week 4 – Why? Making Sense of God’s Will
Why God’s Love Prevails
Romans 8:28, 31-39, Philippians 4:4-9,
August 3, 2014
Today we wrap up our sermon series on those ‘Why’ questions that often shake our faith to the core. Today we are pondering more of a statement than a question, “Why God’s love prevails.” When we see all the horrors and problems in our world repeated ad nauseam in the media, because of course the most fearful, horrible stories are the ones that are projected before us through every media avenue, it can give us this sense of uncertainty and trepidation. Fear tends to drive us as we are afraid for ourselves and our families. We are afraid we may not be sufficient to provide for our families. We are afraid of outsiders who succumb to sin and may cause harm to ourselves or our loved ones. We are afraid of not being accepted by our peers. We are afraid of sickness or even dying. Fear is a factor of our natural human condition.
How do we cope with fear? Some people suffer with fear so debilitating they are incapable of normal daily function. Some are so driven by the fear of failure that every hour of every day is spent working to succeed. Some are so caught up in fear they cannot live their lives at all. Yet we as Christians have an assurance that God is with us. We have the blanket of security wrapped around us that is the love of God. God is not a distant, disconnected being but instead is right there, calming our fears and reminding us that God is with us always even to the ends of the earth.
My view of God has changed significantly over the years. I used to see God as an omnipotent being completely detached from the daily happenings of life. I basically saw God as creator, but pretty much absent from my daily activities. I now see God as a partner, walking with me even through the valley of the shadow of death. It is a 100% certainty that none of us will live forever. At some point each of us will cross over from this live into life eternal. We do not need to fear death because Jesus the Christ has conquered death, hell, and the grave on our behalf. If you need any more reassurance that God is with you, look to the cross that now stands empty.
God truly works in mysterious ways. Often those ways are through nudging us into action. God uses us to proclaim God’s love through our words and our actions. God love will prevail in and through us as we continue to do the work God is calling us to do. We have a lot of folks on our prayer list and others that are mentioned weekly. We have a lot of kids in need of school supplies and food for the weekends. We have a lot of folks in our area struggling with addictions. We have a lot of folks who are discouraged, angry at God, and fearful for their future. How can we allow God to work through each of us to change someone’s life this week? It doesn’t have to be some grand, profound gesture but maybe something as simple as tossing your change in the bin to help with the Ronald McDonald House, or sending a card to someone who happens to be on your mind. God may be nudging you into action – are you tuned in? When we allow God to work through us by helping others we are potentially calming fear on two fronts – our neighbor’s fear of what tomorrow may hold, and our own fear of leading a life without purpose. God’s love will prevail as God’s people respond to God’s calling.
Our scripture lesson from Romans reminds us that nothing at all can separate us from the love of God. The apostle Paul runs off an exhaustive list of a bunch of stuff – trouble, hardship, height, depth, angels, demons, time, space, powers – nothing, nothing, NOTHING, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. The Bible is full of scriptures reminding us that we do not have to be afraid. The most popular Psalm of all, Psalm 23, tells us that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not have to be afraid. Jesus tells us to “… [let not our] hearts be troubled nor let them be afraid. Believe in God, believe also in me.” Our belief in God allows us to overcome our fears. Our belief in God gives us peace to weather the storm. Our belief in God gives us the assurance that God’s love will indeed prevail.
The author of our text makes a final point concerning God’s will. He notes that God will cause evil and suffering to work toward good. We’ve touched on this a little throughout this mini sermon series. We talked about our normal tendency to turn away from God. We talked about our freedom of choice and when we use that freedom to make the wrong choices, we may cause harm to ourselves and others. Suffering and heartache are a part of our lives, but God will bend that suffering and somehow bring good out of the bad. I do not believe God causes evil to happen in our lives, but I do believe that out of our suffering God will bring a glimmer of hope.
I have heard the stories of some remarkable people who started institutions to help others and change lives. Often the spark for their initiative came out of a time of suffering. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a nonprofit organization in the United States that seeks to stop drunk driving, support those affected by drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and overall push for stricter alcohol policy. The Irving, Texas–based organization was founded in 1980 in California by Candice Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. MADD claims that drunk driving has been cut in half since their founding. Did God cause Ms. Lightner to lose her daughter? I don’t think so. But I believe God was with her as she suffered giving her the passion to institute changes to our laws that have helped save the lives of thousands of innocent people.
Today we are celebrating Holy Communion together. While we pause briefly to say a prayer, make our way forward to take a bit of bread and a sip of juice, we are reminded of the suffering behind the cross. We are reminded that Jesus shared his last meal on earth with his friends only to have one of them betray him. We are reminded that the sky was darkened all afternoon, when the son of God finally gave up his spirit and died. But we celebrate today because we know the ending of the story. We know that death did not win the day. We know that because Jesus rose from the dead we are assured of the promise of eternal life. The contemporary Christian song puts it this way, “God’s not dead, he’s surely alive! He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion.”
As we conclude this sermon series, I want to leave you with the assurance from the apostle Paul to the church in Philippi. I put this project together in seminary as my interpretation of this particular passage of scripture. Amen.