Who’s in charge of the rain.

Epiphany 7

Matthew 5:38–48

Imagine if we were put in charge of the rain and the sunshine in Australia this year!

Some Christians might suggest we send rain regularly for the Christian farmers who go to Church, but when they need it, not in the flood proportions we’ve seen this year – and no rain at all on the unbelievers! After some time farmers who had never been near a church might start going every week so they could get a good share in the rainfall. They’d be going to Church for what they could get, and not to praise God in response to his gifts of love.

I wonder do we sometimes worship God in the hope we might get some special goodies, or do we always come as a response to God’s generous love and care for us?

If we humans were in charge of the rain I think we would be tempted to use it as a weapon against our enemies. We might flood them out, and if they survived that tragedy we might frizzle them with sizzling sunshine.

Out of his generosity God sends the rain and the sunshine on the believers and the unbelievers. If there is a drought, the Christians share in it along with the unbelievers. We need to learn to live with what God gives us through nature. We worship God because of his generous love for us, and not for what we can get.

I notice that some of us came to Church today in cars. This was only possible because in this world God’s laws of physics are absolutely consistent for everyone. This is true of our car wheels turning on the axles, to the brakes working, to the controlled explosions in the engine that give it power to move along. Imagine the trouble we would be in if the laws of physics only worked sometimes – haphazardly – like in the steering wheel, and in the engine, for example. Think of the traffic on the highways in our cities if the rules of physics only worked now and then!

God’s laws in nature work absolutely consistently – for both the believers and the unbelievers. I think we tend to take them for granted. We also need to respect these laws of physics. God isn’t going to change the universal laws of physics so we won’t have an accident if we drive dangerously or carelessly on our way home today. If God were to jump a Christian’s car over another car to avoid an accident, how many times should God do this for the Christian? Would three times be fair? If we are involved in a serious accident, our bodies are subject to the same laws as for unbelievers, and we can be killed too.

We thank God today for the miracles of technology we enjoy in our time. All of the laws in nature – in our universe – are part of the genius of God’s creation. We humans never invent these laws of physics. We only discover them!

The danger with our discoveries is we humans use them in technology against our enemies. I think it is to our shame that much research goes into developing weapons to kill our fellow humans, and people starve to death.

Technology doesn’t make us better people. It doesn’t make us more loving people. For example, we don’t build better marriages in our day. We need to look elsewhere for help to become more loving and caring people. We look to the Spirit of God to touch our hearts and minds with God’s love.

We worship God in response to his love, and not for the things we can get for ourselves. We need the love of God to flow through us to the people God puts us next to.

It is to this world of rain and sunshine and laws of nature that Jesus comes. I wonder who would like to swap places with him? Laid in a manger, in the place for animals. He never got to buy a piece of land, let alone build a house to call his home. He relied on catching a fish with a coin in it to pay his taxes! He was tortured, crucified and died. The laws of nature are used against him. There is no favouritism for God’s son. Do we deserve better than Jesus? Jesus goes through it all out of loving care and concern for you and me. We come to Jesus, not for what we can get, but to say ‘Thank you’ above all for his generous love and care for us.

I think the wonder is that God provides food and clothing to the ungrateful, the selfish, and the wicked people, whether they thank him or not. He knows their needs, as well as he knows yours and mine. Isn’t God so much more generous than you or I? God uses the sunshine and the rain to bless his enemies. He is so generous, we might even take his blessings for granted. Or we might become obsessed with the gifts and have no time for thanks for the Giver.

God’s gifts are always gifts of love. He blesses the ungodly with his gifts, and his gifts are blessings to us too. God gives out of a generous heart of loving concern and care.

We need to become more like the loving God we have. A key to us growing in love, is to accept and treasure the love of Jesus for us. He paid the cost for our heartless love, so his love could flow on to others.

What we build up and make with God’s blessings can occupy much of our time. I can think of computers, cars, supermarkets, kitchens and workshops full of gadgets, vast mining projects, oil drilling plants out in the oceans as well as on land, tapping into resources God supplies.

What is far greater to God than all the gifts we might enjoy is for us to have a thankful heart. The gifts from God come in one direction – from God to us, and sometimes the line stops there. But when our hearts respond in thanksgiving to God, and our praises ascend to God, then the line goes full circle, and we are at one with God. We praise God for his delicate laws in nature. We stand in awe before God’s creation. For the rain and the sunshine. We see the gifts, and God sees the thanksgiving. He loves the trust in your heart that receives his gifts with joy.

God’s physical care for everyone is a miracle. Similarly his spiritual gifts are given in the same way. God’s eternal Word, like manna from heaven, continues to rain down on you and me. His Word brings the best gifts that God has for us. Forgiveness. A new start. Peace of heart and mind. The best gifts God has are for everyone.

Amen.

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