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Life and Gifts January 22, 2012

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Epiphany 3/Life Sunday

January 22,2012

Focus: God created us for relationship with Him.

Function: That the hearers continue to fight for their faith in an unbelieving nation.

Structure: This is the promise of the gospel…this is how we live out that promise.

 

Life and Gifts

            This weekend is Sanctity of Life Sunday.  It’s a day where we come together and focus on the issues that undermine human life.  It’s a day where we spend a little more time than usual emphasizing the issues.  Topics like abortion and euthanasia; suicide and stem cell research.  The world around us is filled with life issues for us to talk about today and everyday.

The time is short.  It’s Paul’s theme in our epistle lesson this morning.  The time is short and this world in its present form is passing away.  It’s judgment day.  Believe it or not, that’s law and gospel.  Those words are law because they remind us that we fail to always live urgently; we don’t always live like Christ is coming soon.  But they’re also precious gospel because they remind us of our Savior.

Jesus Christ told His disciples before He left them that He would return to them soon.  We see throughout the New Testament that the day is indeed coming soon when Jesus Christ will return.  Our epistle is part of that theme.  The time is short, it’s coming soon.  That day will bring about God’s kingdom in its fullness.  On that day, as God’s people, we will no longer be plagued by the sin of the world.  Aches and pains of the body, sickness and disease will all be wiped away.  All suffering will come to an end.  Death will no longer be staring us down as that inevitable end of the road.

On that day, God will raise up all those who have died; our bodies will be resurrected to new life.  For us, this is all rooted and established through our relationship with God, a relationship that begins at the font where we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  In our baptisms, not only are our sins forgiven, but the Holy Spirit comes upon us and creates faith in us.  It is through the work of the Spirit that we become children of God.  That relationship with the Father is then strengthened and nourished as we attend church, spend time in God’s Word and in prayer, and partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  Through our relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Spirit, we receive the wonderful blessing of forgiveness in the life and death of Jesus, and we will most certainly be together with God in paradise forever.

Sweet, sweet gospel in our epistle lesson today with the coming of God’s kingdom in all of its glory on the last day.  Unfortunately, we also need to be reminded of the thrust of law that Paul included for the Corinthian church.  In order to truly put Paul’s words in perspective though, we need to look at the context in which he said them.

Back in chapter five, Paul grappled with his brothers and sisters in Corinth for their sexual immorality.  After a brief moment on how Christians are not to sue each other, Paul returned to the topic of sexual immorality, connecting it to marriage.  He who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body.  The two will become one flesh.  That’s marriage language.

This unholy union serves as a transition then into true marriage between a man and a woman.  But in doing so, Paul urges us all not to get married.

“I wish that all were as I myself am…to the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.  But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

 

For Paul, marriage is a way to avoid sexual immorality.  But he also encourages them to stay in their current calling.  If you’re already married, be faithful to your spouse.  And now we get the explanation of why Paul said what he did in our epistle lesson.

“Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that…I want you to be free from anxieties.  The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord.  But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.  And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.  But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, ho to please her husband.”

 

Whether or not to marry is the context for our lesson.  But our lesson itself is the explanation, or the reason behind Paul’s marriage discussion.  The time is short.  If you’re married, that adds one more vocation, one more good and noble responsibility to your life.  Part of your time is consumed with taking care of your spouse and for many also your children.

It’s not that marriage is bad.  Rather, Paul’s urging to not get married is so that you have more time to devote to serving the Lord.  There’s so much to do and so little time.  We know the beloved gospel, the good news of our salvation in Christ.  But there are countless people in the world around us who don’t know.  We know what the Bible says will happen to them on the last day.  God has given us the message of love and salvation to share with them and He has called us to do it.

All of this is intertwined, because in order to share the gospel with people, you typically need to have some kind of a foundation, some relationship with them so that they have a reason to listen to what you have to say.  And that gets into Christ’s instruction that we are to be in the world, but not of the world.  That happens to be where Paul is in the text as well.

Don’t live for money, food, power, and possessions.  Everything you have is a gift, a blessing, a trust, from God.  And certainly don’t let the society and culture that you live in try to tell you who God is.  That never works.  Think about most of the Old Testament, like the golden calf of Israel.  When the people try to make God, it always goes wrong.

Part of our calling to be in the world but not of the world, to share the gospel with others, is to defend the faith.  We need to stand up for what the Bible teaches.  We shouldn’t sit by and watch our culture destroy itself.  It may do so anyway because of sin regardless of how hard we try, but we are called to try.  We shouldn’t let sexual immorality run rampant.  And we certainly shouldn’t suffer the attack on the value of life.

In our culture today, life has lost much of its importance.  We see this clearly with one such issue in abortion.

Why are children aborted? The Alan Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood) states:
• 1% are victims of incest or rape
• 1% had fetal abnormalities
• 4% had a doctor who said their health would worsen if they continued the pregnancy
• 50% said they didn’t want to be a single parent or they had problems in current relationships
• 66% stated they could not afford a child
• 75% said the child would interfere with their lives.

 

While that study is from the 90’s, it’s probably even truer today.  75% of the people polled about their abortion said the child would have messed up their lives.  How is that grounds for killing them?

And just this past Friday, our government crossed these boundaries.  The Department of Health and Human Services is now requiring all religiously affiliated institutions to cover all forms of birth control for their employees.  This does not include churches yet, but does affect Catholic hospitals and even our own Concordia University system.  As though it’s not bad enough that Catholics view all forms of contraception as sinful, the move on Friday also covers the morning after pill, which most Christians all believe is abortion, as the child has already been conceived by that point.

The same can really be said of all life issues, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc.  We think we know better than God.  In fact, you might even say we’re trying to be God.  Imagine for just a moment a baseball game.  There’s a close play at the plate, the catcher is screaming that that the runner is out, while the runner is insisting he was safe.  The fans at the game and at home all think they know; but, how does it work?  Regardless of what they think, whatever the umpire says is true.  His word is final, it’s the law.  OUT! means out.

In that same mindset, we are not the creator of the universe.  We don’t rule over earth.  God does.  What God says is the truth, it’s the final word.  God said let there be light, and there was.  There will be no debating sins on judgment day.  Thankfully for us, God will declare us safe.  Those of us who are in a relationship with God, who believe in His Son Jesus Christ truly are forgiven and cleansed of our sin.  We will be declared righteous.  While we may not think we are, God’s declaration makes it true.  Everlasting life is ours because God has chosen to give it to us through His love, mercy, and grace.

But it’s the matter of what we’re to do as we await that day.  Perhaps Christ returns this afternoon.  Maybe some of us will die before Jesus comes back.  Perhaps, all of us will die before His return.  But we can’t be sure.  He has called us to live as His children, and as witnesses of the gospel.  So we don’t live like regular people without a purpose.  We have a purpose.  We live as God has called us to live.  We stand up for the gospel; we share its truth with those who need.  We stand up for things that are godly and pure.  We support others who share our faith.  We support our brothers and sisters and the church at large.  And through the Holy Spirit we work toward the goal of seeing God’s kingdom grow.  We have been declared “safe” and are saved indeed.  Let’s not be afraid to let the world know it!

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