6th Sunday of Epiphany

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

There are things in this world that don’t always make sense to us. We might ask: Why doesn’t the car start? Why are the telly-marketers talking to me? Why did such an amazing person marry me? And even Why, God, do you care for little ol’ me? Many things don’t make sense, but that doesn’t make them any less true.

And the same is true of God’s Word and His promises, He loves you, forgives you, grants you His peace and joy, and promises you freedom from sin, death and the devil by His Son Jesus’ life, death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Galatians 1:3-5). That is the truth, The Good News, God’s promise to you. But still, sometimes parts of this don’t make much sense to us. When you look around, when you live and see in yourself, sometimes it doesn’t make sense that God would forgive, or it doesn’t make sense that Jesus had to die, or it doesn’t make sense that people who’ve died would rise again with their own body.

Our world teaches us different things: that some people aren’t worth of forgiveness; that fundamentally most people are good people; and that people don’t rise from the dead, especially not if their body has rotted or been eaten by something, and certainly not rising to live forever. And the Corinthians all those years ago were in a similar situation with a popular understanding amongst Greeks that certainly the good spirit lives on after death, but freed from the evil cage of the body. So some of them taught that there was no bodily resurrection, rather something different happened, perhaps like the idea of immaterial spirits frolicking up in the clouds.

But that is not what Paul and the apostles taught, that is not the Christian teaching that has been passed down from Jesus. Paul says it clearly, that if there is no resurrection, Christ was not raised, you are not forgiven, you do not have eternal life and there is no point to your suffering as a Christian. He and I would be proven liars and deceivers, giving false hope and lying about God, even lying to God; and you would be the most pitiable people in the world, striving for some thing that doesn’t exist like El Dorado or the Holy Grail. That is not a good position for us to be in. But when Christians try to listen to the way the world sees the truth instead of God’s truth that is where we end up, foolish liars.

When you try to understand God’s plan without asking Him, you’ll get it wrong and then it can’t make sense. If we think, “well everyone’s got a bit of good, they don’t deserve to die for what they’ve done, surely everyone will be with God in heaven;” Then why did Jesus die, and what is baptism, what is holy communion, why do you need a saviour, what is the final judgement, why is God so brutal; maybe I should follow another God. But when we take God at His Word, though we might not fully understand, it all falls into place.

You and all people do desire to go your own way, to be in charge, and reject God’s will the one who gives you life and fullness. Jesus did die for you and all people, for your forgiveness and freedom from evil. He did rise from the dead in His body, the tomb is empty, now immortal and free from death. And you are in Him through baptism by the power of the Holy Spirit and so you follow the way He paved. In Christ you are forgiven, you have eternal life and will be free from sin; not just you but all who trust God at His Word, and all creation will be renewed.

But if anyone teaches, or preaches, a different gospel they lie and make God a liar, twisting His Word’s to another ‘truth’. You know the Good News, you are saved in it, so keep an ear out for people, even me, who tell you something different. Our society tells us many things, but we are not followers of this world but of God, so don’t trade His way for the Australian highway. Pray that we might see the way our Heavenly Father does, rather than have our faith changed by our culture. God knows what He’s doing, far better than anyone of us and so we listen when He tells us His plan, His promise. That wonderful promise of new eternal life with Him in Jesus Christ, free from sin and death, forgiven and at peace with the joy that comes from God’s true and Good News.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now and always. Amen.

Joseph Graham

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