Thursday, October 24, 2019

Christian Joy 2

It's very difficult to preach about a found sheep and a found coin without exhilaration (Luke 19:1-10)!  Here in two deceptively simple stories Jesus lays out the source and cause of Christian joy - the startling truth that God knows us,  God finds us, God loves us, God rescues us.  No wonder multi-dimensional joy ends the two stories, joy with friends and neighbours, and joy in heaven.

To the rational mind, talk of a God who knows and loves me sounds absurd.  But this is not about making me big, but of making God bigger.  Not of a personal faith in God which is constructed to my satisfaction, but of faith in a personal God who acts in ways far beyond our understanding for us.  I mentioned an evangelistic talk I heard as a student when we were asked how much total knowledge of the world we possessed.  We smiled. 'Suppose you know 1% of all there is to know', he said. To which we laughed outright, thinking of the trouble we had finishing our course assignments. 'Isn't it presumptuous to assume that within that 1% you know all about God. Enough to reject him or to say how definitively how he works?'   In a world of string theory, cyber space, and continuous discoveries we need to take what Jesus says seriously about God's far reaching personal knowledge and love.

For God, his entire mission through Jesus Christ is to find people who are not where they should be within God's family and to bring them back.  I told the story of an Australian I met in Singapore. In his early thirties he was a helicopter pilot laying pipeline in Malaysia.  He told me how he lived on base with the lads. ' My life was diabolical. I got through one marriage. I lived with the lads - it was rough, crude.  But at the beginning of this year I met Jesus Christ and he changed me.  And I found near my base a little church who just held me within their family.  I couldn't believe in the most hellish, godless place God could find me, and keep helping me in this family.'  His face was wreathed in smiles as he told me.  So was mine.  This was joy.  Multi-dimensional,  In his life, among his church friends and echoing in heaven.

Of course, I was also able to speak about repentance which lies at the turning point from being lost to being saved.  The Communion service which followed gave us the best opportunity to celebrate being God's lost and found department together.

Preaching this was an immense joy.  You can imagine.  But, preparing for next Sunday will place greater demands on me!

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