Tonight something wonderful happened. Let’s place it in context.
I went to church feeling burdened. I felt like a ‘bad’ Christian. I felt shameful. I was thinking about all the deadlines for university I had coming up and how unprepared I am. Thought about the worries I have with being so far away from my family and wondering how they are. Knowing they are sick. I was feeling far from God in the sense that I had not spent anytime with Him at all – just chilling out praying or being silent from all the commotions of life.
Arriving at church, I was talkative enough and sat through songs and prayers and recently I had the feeling that even church was a burden. Then there was the sermon. Sermons are traditionally portrayed as being dull and boring, where the preacher talks down and the old people fall asleep and nowadays the youngsters too… But that’s just one sad portrayal of the church that many people believe to be true. Maybe sometimes the sermon is a bit long… or maybe the vicar cracked one too many ‘jokes’.
But the reality of what is being shared is paramount – it’s the very Word of God. If you listen to it, God can transform the dullest sermon to the most refreshing thing you’ve heard all day. He can use others to speak to us 🙂
Today was an example of this for me. We were looking at Romans 5 vs 1-11:
Peace and Hope
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wraththrough him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Steve who was sharing this passage said: “Do you feel like you are a bad Christian? Do you feel that you have to do more (like read your bible, pray more etc) to get back into God’s good books?” He went on to say that we have the peace of God when we believe in Jesus; we are declared righteous in His sight and there is NOTHING that can separate us from His love for us. No matter what we do, “How can we be sure of this?” Steve asked.
It’s in verse 8. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In all of my sin whatever that may be (the stuff that I am too ashamed to admit at the very least!) Christ loved me that much that he bore my pain, shame, hurts, BURDENS – everything. He took it all and put it to death. I am free from it all. Why did he have to die on a cross? To take away the sin of the world. He was the only perfect, blameless person to ever walk this earth that could stand before the Lord in heaven and offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice. By his blood we are made blameless in God’s sight if we choose to believe this incredible act of love.
Tonight I felt burdened. But now, I feel liberated. Thank you Jesus Christ for your unfailing love in all circumstances – defeating sickness, hurt, anger, hate, lust, depression, greed, idolatry and even death itself. In a world that is sick and needs you more than ever Lord, hear our cry and let us be a nation that returns to you.
In Jesus name, now and forever. Amen!!