Jun 17, 2019
Join us as we explore God's ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
The text from the common lectionary yesterday came from Romans 5. Paul wrote these words: Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.
We hear a lot about God’s love. Well, maybe in today’s culture we don’t hear as much as we used to, but when we hear people talk about God, we mostly hear about his love. That is as it should be because God is love. He showed us what love is all about when he became one of us and sacrificed himself for us that we might be freed from the guilt of our sin when we accept his sacrifice and declare him as who he is, Lord of lords, and King of kings. But sometimes in our culture, we swing too far in one direction or the other.
In the past, we went too far in the direction of God’s wrath. The revivals of the last century focused on the wrath of God and the judgment day that we all must face. Evangelists preached fire and brimstone from their pulpits and scared people out of hell and into heaven. God was to be feared above all things. In the last century, the world also faced tyrants that fought to enslave masses. Names like Hitler, Stalin, and Mousseline headlined the news through war that tore Europe apart and killed millions in its wake.
We have not had conflict on that scale since. We have not looked to the heavens and cried out to God about the global destruction we see at the hands of men since then. We went through some scary times with the cold war and nations poised with their weapons of mutual destruction aimed at each other, but the probability of human distinction has lessened through the last several decades. My children have never participated in a nuclear bomb drill or even seen a nuclear shelter. We no longer fear mass destruction like we did in the last century.
Maybe that is why we no longer think of the wrath of God. We stopped fearing the superpowers, so we stopped fearing God. We somehow started equating the two. It’s not a very smart way to look at the world or to look at God. There are still nuclear weapons in more countries than there were during the cold war. Then, neither of the superpowers would unleash the destruction because each knew it meant the end of both countries as we knew them. But now, lesser nations own the capability to destroy superpowers and can survive themselves because they do not rely on the same global economy or the same technologies so vulnerable to damage caused by those weapons. We used to talk about bombing nations into the stone age. We could not survive in the stone age any more. Many of our most dangerous adversaries could.
But we don’t want to think about that. We want to assume everyone on the planet will love each other if we just understood each other. We believe (rather wrongly) that our enemies are just misunderstood and that if we just listened better and accommodated more, the world would be a safe place and we could all get along. It’s a nice, pleasant, fanciful thought. People have not gotten along since Cain killed his brother Abel. Every ancient text is filled with stories of violence, not love and understanding. Except one.
The Bible has its moments as God directs his people to take the promised land from the Canaanites and other tribes who inhabited the land. There are many stories in both the Old and New Testaments that could be rated PG or R because of the violence depicted in them. But the God of the Bible is still a God of love. His story from the beginning is one of reconciliation between himself and his disobedient creation. We are the ones who brought sin into the cosmos and disrupted the perfection he wanted for us.
From the moment of that first act of disobedience, God’s purpose shows through the action of the stories in his word, to redeem those who would trust him and follow his commands. He is indeed a God of love, but he also requires that we understand he is God and we are not. He is in charge, not us. He is the one to be worshipped. Not us or some false god we put in place of him, whether made of wood or stone or an intangible thing like a job or the electrons today indicative of the wealth we worship. God set out to help us live with each other and with him and his rules help us do that. Is he demanding? Yes. So were my parents. They made demands to keep me safe and teach me how to live well in society. God’s rules do the same.
God doesn’t give us rules to cause us to step our toes at a cliff and see how close we can get to the edge. He doesn’t give us fences he expects us to push our heads through to see what’s on the other side. Those rules and fences are for our protection. Our problem is that we forget that the edges of cliffs sometimes crumble and cause us to slip and fall. We can get stuck when we push our head through a fence. Our problem is we forget all the land inside the fence he freely gives us for our enjoyment. We forget the beautiful meadow well away from the cliff where we can enjoy life to its fullest without any fear.
Just like Adam and Eve, Satan tempts us with the rules. “It’s just a little thing. It won’t hurt you. No one will know.” And suddenly we find ourselves scrambling for our lives as we fall down the side of the cliff grasping for any handhold but finding none.
God is a god of love. He desires our good. He gives us parameters to work within so we can stay safe and secure within those parameters. But we do not listen to him. We think we know better than he does. Or we think because he is a God of love that he will just forget everything we’ve ever done, and no consequences will ever come for our behavior. How naïve can we be? Consequences are a natural part of this world. Or at least we expect them to be. If I walk out in the rain, I expect to get wet. If I go out in freezing temperatures without a coat, I expect to be cold. If I speed past a policeman on the highway, I expect to get a ticket.
Why should I not expect the same consequences if I disobey the commands the creator of all the universe puts in place? Can he set them aside? Yes. And he offers to set aside the punishment we deserve when we acknowledge him as Lord, believe he came in the form of man and died for our sins, confess our guilt to him and accept his sacrifice. And repent. Repent means more than saying I’m sorry. Too often we are sorry we got caught. Repent means to do an about face. Go the other way. Stop doing what you’ve been doing and do the opposite. If you haven’t followed Christ, start following him. If you haven’t trusted him, trust him. If you haven’t obeyed God, obey him. Repent.
God doesn’t have to display his wrath. He has already put the laws of cause and effect in place. There are consequences for our actions. The consequence of not believing in him for salvation is an eternity without him. Jesus describes it as a place of eternal fire where worms never get their fill and the fires are never quenched. Eternal suffering apart from God who so desperately wants his relationship with us restored. But he is a holy God. He has already done his part. But until we repent and accept his gift, the gift remains untouched, unopened, unused.
Take advantage of his love before you become a victim of his wrath. It only takes a little faith and you can know what Paul and so many others have come to know as he shared with the believers in Rome. You can be acquitted and made right through faith, able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. No matter where you are, what you’ve done, he is ready. Are you?
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.