Religion has a lot to answer for

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43: Psalm 139

I want my life to be lived with you
There’s a way everybody say’s
To do each and every little thing
But what does it bring
If I ain’t got you,

You don’t know what it’s like
To love somebody
To love somebody
The way I love you

The words from a Bee Gees song that has the effect of being at the same time both of heartbreak and of triumphant.

And words that could be from Christ himself as a reminder to the to the church and words to each of us today reminding us that no matter how much we try, we will never truly understand a love that is untarnished by sin that is the love of Christ.

Religion has a lot to answer for.

We see in the Middle East what seems to be Muslim Brother against Muslim brother. Murder and bloodshed in the name of religion.

At the completion of the first Christian Crusade” in the middle ages, a chaplain and historian present wrote of the events immediately following the capture of Jerusalem.

“Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (the more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are normally chanted … in the temple and the porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies.”

And here, if our land of freedom-in our land flowing with milk and honey we hear of the religious leaders, Pastors and those of their flocks who have not welcomed the confused and anxious teenager carrying baby, but discarded her by way of judgment and lecture. And the church that welcomes back those lost to them, maybe that same girl with a smile, but really a smile that could be seen as a smirk as she notices the side way looks between the good and faithful.

The dictionary defines theology as “the systematic study of the existence and nature of the divine and its relationship to and influence upon other beings”, and in our own church theological discussions have been present since the reformation and hopefully will be to the end of time.

Theology-the study of the Word in history, and indeed both in our own times allows for us to hear the truth of God no matter what the winds of society otherwise suggest. The word that says yes, that thing is still a sin, and the word that says no, that no matter your condition that the present society has now labelled as unforgivable, no, that though others forgive you not- no sin is too great to separate those from the love of God who have turned to Christ.

Religion, the Church at times, some Pastors moments, you and me all have things to answer for. Retaliation of those of not the same beliefs and the judgment of others that doesn’t lift them from the shallows but pushes them into the depths. We all have something.

When young, a family stopped attending church for the very reasons I have mentioned and at the age of twelve, a boy in that family-unbeknown to anyone to this day for weeks struggled with what seemed a call to leave his mother and father and live with his still actively worshipping grandfather. The pull was immense and it seemed clearly a line in the sand had been drawn between following Christ or following self.

For the next 15 years his relationship or pull towards the Lord became dim only to be replaced with all manner of worldly ways.

A moment, and moments following that needed answering for-but was not sought for nor considered.

So Christ answered himself not in judgment and damnation, but through a seemingly chance encounter that would see him enter a church against his wishes only to be re-awakened and brought to tears that finally, he was home.

The apostle Paul through the knowledge of his own situation has told us that “But by His doing are you in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boast, boast (only) in the Lord”.

I have walked in many directions not made of the Lord, and yet even in the most wayward it was He who opened up a door. Opened door after door that in my unknowing state would see me stumble unawares to a place he prepared that once again I would come to weep in the knowledge of a love so great.

We all deserve to answer to God for our wayward ways, but as we could not, God sent us His son to answer for us.

I want my life to be lived with you
There’s a way everybody say
To do each and every little thing
But what does it bring
If I ain’t got you,

You don’t know what it’s like
To love somebody
To love somebody
The way I love you.

God answered our inability to save ourselves by sending us His Son.

Jesus Christ who though we turn from Him, does not turn from us.

The parable of the sower: “The servants said to him, do you want us to gather up the weeds. But he said to them, No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.”

Christ here gives voice to our theology, to His churches and to us. A sin is a sin and so it will be till the end of time. But though we see sins in others and in ourselves-we are not to judge prematurely by assuming we can tell the difference between the weeds and the wheat for that is not the realm of us, but of God. The realm of our God who separates the two not of what we discern, but in knowing of those who come before him with empty hands clinging to forgiveness and life eternal through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

We may have doubts of ourselves from past, present or future that cause us to pray in anxiety or even distress as to our fate on our last day. Pray yes, but fear not for we have a God, God the Father that knows you.

Our God that is aware of our sins and of our times of bodily and spiritual weaknesses. But a God that has not forsaken us, or closed his eyes and ears to us but comes to us in the midst of our storms with the assurance that: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

We all have family and friends not of the visible church which may give us reason to pray. And pray we should, but not in fear but in comfort that God, our God is not a God far off, but God our Father who is near and hear these Words from today’s Psalm 139 for them, and as they most assuredly are for you.

“”                 You have searched us, Lord,
and you know us.
You know when we sit and when we rise;
you perceive our thoughts from afar.
You discern our going out and our lying down;
you are familiar with all our ways.
Before a word is on our tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem us in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon us.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for us,
too lofty for us to attain.

Where can we go from your Spirit?
Where can we flee from your presence?
If we go up to the heavens, you are there;
if we make our bed in the depths, you are there.
If we rise on the wings of the dawn,
if we settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide us,
and your right hand will hold us fast….    and lead us in the way everlasting life. Amen.

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