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The Weather’s Good for Camping June 14, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Proper 6

June 14, 2015

 

Focus:  God delivers us from death through the life given in His Son.

Function:  That the campers are encouraged to do good unto their fellow campers.

Structure:  Walking through the Scripture/Here is the promise of the gospel…this is how we live out that promise.

 

The Weather’s Good for Camping

 

It’s that time of year again.  It’s camping season.  The weather’s warm, the wildlife is flourishing, and it’s just a wonderful opportunity to go out and enjoy God’s creation.  So you round up the family, the friends, or maybe you just fly solo.  You load up the car, head out into the woods, pitch a tent, and enjoy.  Whether it’s just relaxing, swimming in a lake, or going for a hike, the weather’s good for camping.

But it’s just a tent.  And when the weekend comes to a close, you pack it back up and return to brick and mortar, to the place you call home.  Seeing how Paul was a tentmaker by trade, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he uses the tent to express something to us in his letter.  Much like a camping tent, or even the Old Testament tent called the Tabernacle, Paul calls this earth our tent.  It is our home, but only temporarily.

For a camping tent, the more permanent home is what you return to.  For the Tabernacle, it was replaced by a more permanent structure called the temple.  And for the tent that is the earth, well, Paul tells us that we have a building that is from God.  Isaiah, Peter, and John all talk to us about a new heaven and a new earth.  You can dream about it, but that’s not where Paul’s headed.

Instead, Paul is giving us a reminder, a reminder that in the grand scheme of things, in the scope and scale of eternity, this is just your weekend camping trip!  And it’s a bumpy one at that.  It’s only temporary; it doesn’t last forever, not even close.

And the naked bit fits well, too.  Here we are looking to God for clothing, so that when we see Him face to face, we won’t appear before Him naked.  Does that sound familiar?  Does it remind of you of a time when God walked around in the garden and called out: “Where are you?”  And the man replied, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:9-10)

In their sin, Adam and Eve recognized their nakedness, and then they were ashamed.  In our sin today, we are still ashamed, and so we call out, longing for God to clothe us.  We groan and we long for His response, for His aid.  We bear the burdens of this world, the burdens of our temptations, of our greed, of our failure, of our lack of trust, of our lack of courage.

We could sit here all day listing off our failures; they’re more numerous than any of us care to admit.  And so we long to be clothed, we long for this mortal flesh to be swallowed up by life.  And it has!  Paul talks in exactly this way to the churches in Rome and Galatia, that we have clothed ourselves in Christ.

God heard our groaning, our longing, and He answered.  He gave us His Son.  And through the death of Christ on the cross, through the crimson blood flowing from His veins, as it drapes itself over you, your sins are covered, they’re forgiven.  And as He rose again from the dead on Easter morning, leaving that burial cloth behind in the tomb, we too, leave behind the filthy rags, for the robe of Christ, that we may be swallowed up by life.

It’s been done for us.  God has done it.  And so that we never forget it, the Father and the Son gave us the Spirit.  Through the work of the Spirit, we have the guarantee.  Through the work of the Spirit, creating faith in our hearts in our baptisms, daily clothing us with the love and forgiveness of Christ, we have the guarantee of life.  We can be certain: it is a gift, and it is ours.  Because God has promised, and God has done it.

In this text, the NIV translation uses the word “confident.”  But the ESV translation uses the word “courage.”  In fairness, the Greek word used by Paul can truly mean either.  But which word you read in this text does affect the meaning.  If it is indeed confidence, then we worry not about this world, and we focus on the Spirit’s guarantee, that as He has promised, we have life both now in this tent, but also forever in the home He has prepared for us.

But the word courage takes it a step further, and makes us think of boldness.  And it’s in this light this day that I want us to think about Paul’s words.  Because we live in an age that takes courage.

Paul continues by talking about how right now we’re at home in the body, but we’re away from the Lord.  And he mentions how we long to be away from the body and at home in the Lord.  This isn’t a negative view of God’s creation, of our bodies, only the desire, the longing we have for the perfect relationship, the life everlasting that is truly ours as we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness.  And that day comes, we know not when, only that it comes.  And body and soul will be reunited.

In the meantime, we walk by faith, not by sight.  This is essential today, brothers and sisters.  This is essential because we now live in a culture where you won’t see Christ in the society around you.

We get so caught up these days in the details that we’ve missed the bigger picture altogether.  We get so caught up in specific issues and in political battles over things like divorce, abortion, cohabitation, and same-sex marriage, that we’ve completely missed the war that’s being fought all around us.

Our culture, this nation, is at war and there’s not a doubt about it.  But even though the media and the talk all seems to be about the things I just mentioned, those things are just battles, not the war.  The real war that’s being waged right now is over the Christian worldview, and it’s been happening for decades.

Now, as a historian, I won’t go so far as to say this nation was founded as a Christian nation.  That’s simply not true, as many of our founding fathers were deists, not Christian.  But this nation has had a Christian worldview since the outset.

Let me define that quickly.  A worldview, simply put, is how you look at and think about the world around you.  It’s the way you view your life and then live it.  So there were enough Christians in America’s earlier days, that the culture, by and large, inherited that worldview.  They saw things in light of who Christ is and what He’s done.

They saw things through the lens of Scripture.  You could make a reference to the flood, or to David and Goliath, or to milk and honey, or to pillars of salt or golden calves, or even have a football play named the Immaculate Reception.  You can’t make those references today and expect people to understand it.  The Bible is no longer seen as authoritative, and we live in a culture where people refuse to believe that there could be an authority outside of themselves.

It has many sources, but this has been Satan’s war against God since the tree in the garden.  And he continues to fight it in our very midst.  It’s not just people calling the Bible some 2000 year old book.  We can think about daily life.  The sense of being a true community has been lost.  We never have to leave our own homes; we all have shrines of entertainment just for us.  It’s individual, not communal.  We don’t need to interact with other people on a daily basis to survive.

Our Board of Evangelism, just in the time I’ve been here, has noticed the impact here in Stewartville.  Going door to door used to be okay, even fun sometimes.  You’d knock, they’d answer, and you’d have a conversation.  Maybe they didn’t believe in Jesus, maybe they outright refused Him, but usually they showed respect.  That’s gone.  And that’s assuming they even open the door when you knock.

You see it with people in need.  How often will someone drop their purse and no one even notices because we’re too wrapped up in our own little world?  How bad has it gotten, that if a couple is thinking of divorce, or if a teen is feeling so lonely that they’re contemplating suicide, or if a mother just lost a child, that we now live in a culture where that has to be kept secret?  We can’t share ourselves with one another because we’ve lost what it means to be a community, even in the church.  And for whatever role I’ve played in that, I’m sorry.  Forgive me, forgive us.

I’ve seen this also in the media, but even now, more and more among the general population.  Recently President Matthew Harrison of our Synod wrote a letter of encouragement to pastors, a Christian blogger blogged about how our culture wants to call Bruce Jenner a hero, and the sometimes sarcastic Christian comic Adam4d for just about any of his posts, they all had something in common.  They got lit up like a Christmas tree.  Whoops, sorry for the Christian worldview reference there.

No, they spoke their mind and their faith, and received hateful backlash for it.  The response was just vitriol.  And it’s becoming increasingly popular all around us.

There’s a quote that I mentioned partially in Bible class two weeks ago that fits this very well.  The now late-Cardinal of Chicago, Francis George once said “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”  And while that shares the doom and gloom outlook many Christians have today, while it seems to fit in with the church decline we hear about so often, it wasn’t the end of the quote.  He finished by saying, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

That’s just it.  This isn’t new.  We’re not alone.  It’s the same sin and death cycle we’ve seen throughout human history.  With Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, the Egyptians and 400 years of slavery, Jonah and the Ninevites, Jesus and, well, everybody, Saul/Paul and well, let’s be honest, the whole New Testament for that matter was written during a time of persecution of Christians.  And yet, Paul writes that we should have courage.

You see the worldview that we have, that comes from God’s Word and is indeed a gift from Him, is at odds out there, it doesn’t make sense.  But it’s to those very people that Christ came.  It’s in the very midst of brokenness, our brokenness, our society’s brokenness, that a loving God reached down and called us His children.  And He will continue to do so.

And so, we take courage.  Because even if persecution does increase, even if we are reproached and insulted by men, we walk by faith, not by sight.  We have courage, boldness, and confidence in light of the Spirit’s guarantee, and that this is only a tent.  No matter what happens to us now, we have a God who created us, loves us, and saved us.

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.  Christ said His purpose was to glorify the Father, and thus, when we do that, we please Christ.  This isn’t a salvation issue, a works-righteousness thing, it’s simply a family thing.  We’re children of God, with the Spirit as guarantee, and so we are courageous.

Step outside of your homes, help the neighbor build his shed, bake something for them, water the plants while they’re away.  Reach out to the prideful, the strong, the arrogant.  Reach out to the broken.  Build relationships with people, through which you can share the truth of God’s Word and the love of His Son.

When we approach the judgement seat of God, to give an account, yes, we’ll have to fess up for our faults, but we also get to say, I know that Guy, I’m wearing His robe.  And He’ll vouch for you, because He clothed you and made you part of the family.  And it brings glory to Him when He gets to vouch for your neighbor too.

Remember, this is just a weekend camping trip, with many bumps along the way.  But while you’re out on your trip, you’ll notice other campers, too, many of whom could use assistance.  Light their fire, share your food, give some directions.  Maybe persecution will ruin your trip, but it won’t ruin your life, your everlasting life.  And just like Saul/Paul himself, those same people might become our fellow campers.

 

 

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