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While We Were Still Enemies March 1, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Romans 5:1-11

Second Sunday in Lent

March 1, 2015

 

Focus:  God sacrificed His own Son for His enemies (us).

Function:  That the hearers rejoice in their Savior.

Structure:  Walking through the text.

 

While We Were Still Enemies

 

Perhaps, by now, you’ve seen it.  I’m talking about McDonald’s new marketing campaign, that their food is so good, it’ll make even the worst of enemies love one another.  One of the ads they’ve been running so far this year does that, using pop culture from the last fifty years, it shows us bitter enemies, suddenly acting like best friends:

Pacman and the Ghost, Batman and the Joker, a dog and the mailman, Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West, Spongebob Squarepants and Plankton, a lumberjack and the tree, Republicans and Democrats, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, Bowser and Mario, a dragon and a knight, a few Smurfs with the wizard Gargamel, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, a beachgoer and a shark, King Kong and the fighter pilot, the two Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots, a Packers fan and a Bears fan who we’ll replace with a Vikings fan, and an angry cat with its owner.

I admit, I did chuckle when I first saw it.  But I don’t buy it.  There’s no way that those two robots who’ve been doing nothing but punching each other in the face since they were first designed back in 1964, there’s no way that they’re suddenly going to set the gloves aside and share a bag of French fries.  There’s no food that good.  Restoring a relationship with an enemy takes a lot more than that.

In our text today, Paul reminds us that we made ourselves enemies of God.  Let me paint the picture for you.  In a span of only six days, God created everything.  He created the earth, complete with its seasons and time, night and day, water and land, plants and animals.  The heavens filled with stars too numerous to count, with the sun shining brightly and giving us warmth.  Gravity, Thermodynamics, planets orbiting a sun in a solar system, DNA, and even billions of unique personalities.

God made it all!  And on the sixth day He took a step back, looked over everything and declared, “It is very good!”  Then He placed Adam and Eve, His creations, His people, His friends, He placed them into the garden.  And He gave it to them, He gave the Garden to them saying, “Take care of it.”  All of this vast creation and its beauty, He entrusted to us, to care for it, to preserve it, to help it grow and flourish.

But we know that didn’t happen.  We know that instead of choosing to follow God’s instructions, Adam and Eve chose the side of the enemy.  Despite all God had done for them, despite all that He had given them, they chose Satan instead.  They chose to follow the serpent.

It was a crushing blow to everyone.  It was more than an insult to God.  We betrayed Him, turned our backs on Him, spit in His face.  We chose the temptations of sin instead of His perfect love.  We broke our relationship with Him.  We broke the creation He entrusted to us.  And that’s when pain and suffering and death entered into the picture.  They didn’t exist before we messed it all up.

Now before you get all defensive and say, “Pastor, what do you mean we?  We weren’t in the Garden, we didn’t make that choice.  We’re just paying for their mistakes.”  Let me explain it to you another way.

At another point in history, God interceded, He broke in and tried to reclaim His creation.  He reached out to Abraham and cut a covenant with Him, saying “I will be your God and you will be My people.”  That covenant reestablished a relationship, God reached out to us and claimed us as His own.  And yet in spite of that, we did it again.  Again, we chose the enemy to love.  We chose the temptations and the desires and the sins.  We chose to abandon God and worship other things like money and power and food.  We abandoned God and chose to worship the devil.

Again, I say we because God made that covenant to include us.   But because it was broken, because our ancestors chose to leave it and not be God’s people, because they chose to sever the relationship, we are born outside of it.  We are born apart from a right relationship with God.  We are born sinful, separated from the One who made us.

And even if you still want to try and argue, we have no ground to stand on.  Just as Christ once called out to the Pharisees who wanted to stone the prostitute and said, “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone,” and they all dropped their rocks and walked away, we too know that we couldn’t have thrown the stone.  We know that we have sinned.  We know that we have put other things before the Lord, whether it was work or family, money or food, gossip or lies, whatever it might have been.

One sin, one broken command was all it took to cause thousands of years of pain and death.  One sin took a creation that was very good and made it into a place where the hearts of men were nothing but evil.  We have made ourselves enemies of God.  Both directly and indirectly.

That’s a gloomy picture, the outcome looks bleak.  And a Big Mac isn’t gonna fix it.  But then we hear the words of the Apostle Paul:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

We get his point, we really do.  There’s no way Batman is going to lay down his life to save the Joker.  We wouldn’t do that for an enemy.  In fact, if we’re honest, we’d struggle to do that for someone we care about.  And yet, that’s precisely what God did for us.  We weren’t righteous, we weren’t good, there’s nothing here that could be deemed worth dying for, but He still did.

That’s how deep the Father’s love is for His creation, for His people.  That once again, He would break into history by sending His Son to us, that He would go to the cross and suffer a painful death for those who hate Him.  God, help me to love that way.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

 

No amount of self-sacrifice from the lumberjack can give new life to the tree.  He just can’t do it.  No blood, no tears, no guilt, nothing can help that tree grow back again.  Nothing we can do anyway.  But the blood of Jesus, the blood He willingly shed on the cross for you and me, that can.  That blood can forgive sins.  That blood can fix the broken relationship.  That blood can cause the tree to grow again.

In the blood of Christ we are forgiven, we are healed, and our relationship with God has been restored.  That blood washes over us and delivers us from the wrath of God that we rightly deserve.  But as wonderful as that is, that’s not the end!

Christ doesn’t remain in the grave, but instead three days later, the Father gave Him new life.  And the Apostle Paul tells us that if we’re reconciled, if our relationship to God has been fixed by Christ’s death, how much more do we now have through Jesus’ life?

It’s not just the cross, but the empty tomb.  That as Christ rose again from the dead, so will we.  That as the broken world wilts and fades, as we suffer pain and death, as plants and animals around us fade, we have not just a promise, but a true and perfect hope in a resurrection.  Because if while we were still enemies of God, He loved us so much that He would give His Son for us, how much more, now that we are His children, now that the relationship is restored and beautiful again, how much more will He bless us with the good gifts that only He can give?!

11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”  We rejoice.  We enjoy the gifts that God gives us, gifts of His beautiful creation, of countless days to soak in its wonders and the blessings of life together with other people, even with the animals and other parts of God’s creation.  We rejoice by spending time with our Lord and Savior in Word and prayer.  We rejoice by loving our enemies just as He first loved us.

A Happy Meal can’t fix it.  But God most certainly can.  And He has.  In the blood of His Son, God fixed our relationship, He healed us, He’s saved us.

 

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