Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sermon Summary 8-20

There are some verses in the Bible that I call crazy texts, the kind we read and skip over because they're too crazy. A two examples would be "Rejoice in the Lord, again I will say, rejoice! (Phil. 4:4)", and "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (James 1:2)". Now I don't know anyone who likes suffering. How can God expect me to rejoice when I'm in trouble?

Suffering is probably the hardest thing for people who believe in God to explain. The argument goes: If God is good and God is all-powerful, how come there is evil? Therefore God is either weak, evil, or a fantasy.

But God is not just good and all-powerful. These are indeed attributes that God must have, but the Bible says the very essence of God is love (1 John 4:8). God is love and wants us to love Him back, but that love implies a choice. And when our first ancestors chose to believe that God is a liar they rejected his love and evil entered the world (Gen. 3).

So how did a God of love respond to this? He couldn't violate our freedom of choice, so He came and suffered with us (Is. 53:4-6). He did it so that He could set up the Kingdom of Heaven, a kingdom based on love, not fear. It is an upside-down kingdom where everything is the opposite of what you would expect of a human government (Matt. 5:1-10). And in this upside-down Kingdom of Heaven persecution is a good thing (Matt. 5:11-12).

The Apostle Peter says that Christians shouldn't be surprised when we have "fiery ordeals", but that we should rejoice to the degree that we share the "sufferings of Christ" (1 Pet. 4:12,13). God showed his love to us by coming and suffering with us, and one of the ways that we can show love back to him is by suffering for Him in persecution. When we do this we show Satan, the accuser who throws ordeals at us, that we don't "love" God because of what He gives us, but that we will do anything for Him because of who He is (Job 1:6-12).

This is why we can rejoice when troubles happen to us for no reason, because we have been given an opportunity to show our love for God, in the same way that He showed His love to us. To stand by Him no matter what, and to rejoice in a relationship of love that nothing can take away. And to relax in the certainty that our reward is indeed coming--an eternity with our greatest Friend.

Crowing With Thorns is in the later style of the long lived, Venetian, renaissance painter, Titian.


  1. I have been reading this blog for a short time now, and as a lifelong Adventist, I find it truly insightful. Pastor Dave finds a comfortable median between the raving extreems of both left and right (although he does lean further left than right, it may seem). Throw in the immense variety of topics, and this blog indeed goes beyond the everyday fountain of nonsense spewing forth from most religious blogs. I applaud you, Pastor Dave, you have in me a devoted fellow enthusiast of the mind.

  2. Thanks for the vote of support. You are right that my bias is more to the left of center. As I heard one politician say "If you're not a liberal in your twenties, you're heartless. And if you're not a conservative in your fifties, you're brainless."