July 2017

the life everlasting

By using such ordinary things to talk about something that is quite extraordinary, Jesus shows us how absolutely anything can point us to heaven. All we have to do is look at it in the right way. Jesus uses images that were familiar with the people of his time. But not many of us are farmers anymore. Not many of us bake our own bread or catch our own fish. We need some new metaphors, and so over the years, this pastor has tried to preach some new parables.

the resurrection of the body

The resurrection of Christ is the climax of the story of our bodies, but not the end of it. By resurrecting the body of Jesus, God made clear that God loves our bodies enough to resurrect them, too. That was the message that Paul was trying to preach, but he had a little trouble getting that idea across to the Greeks. They didn't have the Books of Moses. They had Plato and Socrates. They didn't think much of physical bodies. They called them cesspools of lust, prisons of pain and dungeons of decay. They didn't believe that God had ever created them or that God would ever want to save them. The Greeks yearned to live in a disembodied, purely spiritual world, and so they waited for death when they would be released from their bodies. You might think this is a very old-fashioned way of looking at things, but I'll have you know this way of thinking is still going strong today.

the forgiveness of sins

I want to be clear. We don't confess our sins because we want to feel bad about ourselves. We can do that easily enough without confessing to anything. We confess our sins because when we finally stop denying the truth and living the lie, we're going to feel much better about ourselves. The Gospel is good news because God's forgiveness sets us free to be ourselves. It is very possible to be a happy sinner, because only sinners get a Savior.

the communion of saints

But what we can't get from a self-help book or a weekend seminar or a long silent retreat is the messy, noisy, life-saving grace of community. At its best, the communion of saints is a community of mutual support and accountability. We need the communion of saints to support us in our search for God and to hold us to a higher standard as we try to live for God. You see, we can’t be saints in single file. We can’t be holy on our own. Wesley said that “Christianity is essentially a social religion” and “to turn it into a solitary one is to destroy it.” [“Sermon on the Mount IV”] Me-Myself-and I is a pretty sorry substitute for the communion of saints.