“The day before the day after”
I was writing this the day before our national election and as I write, considering the battle of wits that we’ve seen over the past months I’m not sure if I’ll be happy or sad that this real life political version of master chef, the apprentice or big brothers is finally over with. Cloak and dagger, miss-placed loyalties, school yard bullying and half-truths-if it were the newly released T.V mini-series it may attract quite an audience. Problem is this is not a fictional sit com in the 7.30 time slot to be applauded for its drama; it has real outcomes that effect real people and that being the case, wouldn’t it be nice-that whether we like it or not that we could just be told how it is in clear non jargon and non-drip feeding brutal truth and honesty so that we really know just where we stand. The hindrance of such truth though is the truth itself because if a politician did tell us, they may lose the election because of it. Winston Churchill once said that “Democracy is the worst form of government (except from the other that have been tried) apart from the alternatives” and he’s right and that’s why millions over time have given their lives for freedom and democracy. Yet as he said it has it’s shortfalls like in our political system here where today on day one, that the new Prime Minister has only been given three years till the next makes it hard for him to tell and bring in hard core change. I honestly feel for politicians because I believe most are true believers, or at least went in as true believers, but it must be hard to keep on track and not get lost in the whims of the day and govern to a long term goal without the surety of making it there in the first place. But that’s life and the same could be said of our own personal plans of employment, health and worldly well-being. Plans that are good and plans to work towards. Yet plans that may have to be adapted or even given up on as the world and our lives and priorities change over the shifting sands of time as seen in incidents such as what’s going on in the Middle East at the moment.
We live in an ever changing and sometimes confusing world. Yet as Christians we live knowing of the sure outcome of eternal life. Two polar opposites yet joined together in the faith of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in which Martin Luther described “as a living daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a person could stake their life on it a thousand times”. Faith in Jesus Christ is knowing you are forgiven and saved, and forgiven and saved in faith is knowing that when you are called from this earth it is not the end but the start of the eternal where “never again will you suffer from grief, death, crying or pain.”
At the Synod in Adelaide in regards to the sometimes intense discussions over women’s ordination our previous bishop stated “that scripture is not unclear on the subject as some have suggested, rather it is our ears that are unclear to scripture” and indeed in our mortal human lives on this earth there is much of God’s ways that seem to make no sense or confuse us and that’s O.K. But let not the powers of darkness lead you away from the one truth that all their forms of deception are directed to. ” That in faith in Jesus Christ alone you are truly saved, forgiven and given eternal life.
If that is the only thing you will ever know for sure it is enough, because that is the only truth that sustains in times such as spoken of, or even warned of in Jesus’ seemingly hard words heard today in the Gospel.
When about twenty five years old I was coaching a country football team and having made the Grand final I asked that for that week if they could look after themselves with their diet of what they ate and drank and if only for that week alone to put preparing for the weekend as the number one thing on their list. They agreed, except for the vice caption who took me aside and said “sorry but Jesus is always at the top of my list regardless of the situation”. I was stopped in my tracks-a little like in hearing Jesus words today in the gospel where he forewarns those listening of what just may come from following him.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
Heavy words not designed to create a rift in families, but designed to prepare us for what may come from following Christ, up and against when the powers of darkness entice us to give excuses to put ourselves and other worldly things, including earthly life itself ahead of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
This message from Christ as seen through the context of those in reasonable health and living in the comfort of a free country like ours stop us in your tracks similar to how much of the book of revelations does. Yet in the context of imminent death, be it on a hospital bed, on a battlefield or through religious persecution as was the case for Christians when Jesus said this, and as indeed is the case in many parts of the world still to this day, these words like the last words in the bible prior to the benediction of “come Lord Jesus!” bring life out of death in that we will know for ourselves like that of our Lord Saviour himself who on the cross and after having accomplished His work of salvation gave up his spirit not in despair, but in the sure knowledge of what awaited him with his final Words “It is finished”.
Jesus Christ our Saviour does not lie and just as eternal death was finished in him, so too has eternal life arisen in him and though parts of scripture may be unclear through our ears, let it be clear that in faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of how far you may fall or to the heights you may climb that in faith in Jesus Christ alone you are saved and given eternal life.
The truth of our Lord and Saviour for both the end of our journeys and in our journeys of today. His Words that we heed and take with us as we carry our crosses in this world and as we work and live amongst the people and situations he has placed us, and that our crosses of sadness and hurt may be heavy, they are made light in the knowledge of what our Saviour has brought us. And though we may befriend and help those who repay us with scorn, abuse or by taking advantage of us, it is of no consequence because you know his truth, and his truth has set you free from the failings of yourself and from the failings of this world and given a new perspective where win lose or draw, you have already won. That in abuse from others or in thanks, we give ourselves to them because he has given himself to us and should the cross we bear be heavy, we carry it with us knowing of the cross that he carried for us. His cross that he bore for us, heavy with the weight of the sin of the world has freed us to rejoice in all things and all times.
There’s a great poetic lyric from a song on the airwaves at the moment (from passenger)
“I know a woman with kids around her ankles and a baby on her lap
She said one day her husband went to get a paper and …….. never came back
Mortgage to pay and four kids to raise, keeping the wolf from the door
She said the wolf’s just a puppy and the door’s double locked so why you gotta worry me for
Now he left a in hole in my heart a hole in a promise a hole on the side of my bed
Oh now that he’s gone well life carries on and I miss him like a hole in the head
Well sometimes you can’t change and you can’t choose
And sometimes it seems you gain less than you lose
Now we’ve got holes in our hearts, yeah we’ve got holes in our lives
Where we’ve got holes, we’ve got holes but we carry on”
And carry on we do. Not hiding our light but letting it shine and though your own song may have a tough chorus, it is your song that has brought you to where you are in the knowledge of his love.
It is true that we may be but beggars, but in Christ we are his and that is all that matters
So sing your song, for your song is his song. Sing it loud and live it proud knowing that in you he has painted a masterpiece that opens others eyes that they may too see the master painter. The master painter of life: The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who said “it is done” and who now waits to welcome home “his good and trusted servants”. Your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who waits to welcome you home and our Lord and Savior who wills to welcome all home. We rejoice in that truth, and rejoice as we serve him and those he places before us, no matter to us the earthly consequence. Amen.