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Created. Redeemed. Called. January 17, 2016

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Isaiah 43:1

Life Sunday

January 17, 2016

 

Focus:  God gives value to all human life.

Function:  That the hearers value their lives as God does.

Structure:  Outline provided by Rev. Dr. Jim Lamb of Lutherans for Life.

 

Created. Redeemed. Called.

 

As we recognize Life Sunday, we also recognize just how difficult it can be.  All the issues we can talk about, issues of life from cradle to grave.  Many of them we have talked about before.  Many of them we’ll talk about again.  But so many of them can seem complicated, confusing, controversial, and uncomfortable.

Complicated, like stem cell research, cloning, in vitro fertilization and genetic engineering.  Maybe we need scientists to figure it all out.    Confusing, should we remove the feeding tube, stop the treatments, sign the Living Will, or use a Do Not Resuscitate order?  Maybe we need pioneers in the realm of ethics. @  Then there’s the controversies surrounding any of these topics.  Is church really the place?  Is worship or Bible study?  Should we just leave it all to the politicians?  Maybe we need to just stick to the gospel and leave the rest to our Biblical scholars.  @  And they can definitely make us uncomfortable, there are likely people here today who’ve had an abortion or pressured someone they know, or maybe they feel guilty because they couldn’t talk someone out of it.  Perhaps psychologists can be helpful, too.

These words are true.  Complicated, confusing, controversial, uncomfortable.  But today, today we’re not going to talk about those things.   Today we’re going to answer a different question.  A question that isn’t complicated nor confusing.  A question that isn’t controversial and doesn’t make us uncomfortable.  It’s actually pretty simple.  But it speaks to all of these issues.  In fact, it speaks to all of life, all of life everywhere.  And before we can even talk about life issues, this is where we have to begin.

Our question today is this: “what has God done that gives value to human life?”    And our Scripture text, Isaiah 43:1 gives us the answer.  “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

It gives us three simple words to consider.   Created.  Redeemed.  Called.  We don’t need to be scientists, ethicists, politicians, Biblical scholars or psychologists to talk about these things.  Those men and women can help, and are good to have in our community, but we get to look at these things as the very people of God.  We see them as followers of Christ, as we live in His Spirit and in His gifts.

Every life, every person has value because God made us all.  God created every single person.  And the Bible tells us that this is intimate, it’s hands on.   “Your hands fashioned and made me” (Job 10:8).   “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).  We could all just as well have a tag on our back the same as we do on our clothing.

It would read @ “Handmade by God.”  And even though some would challenge this by asking about children born with deformities or illnesses or any number of challenges, the answer is still the same.  They are the work of God’s hands and they are precious in His sight.

And should we want to go deeper on that question, God would have a couple of questions for us.   “Do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?” (Isaiah 45:11)    “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?” (Isaiah 39:16).  What right do we have to challenge God?  We’re not the creator, we’re the created.

God is also clear in Psalm 51, saying that He has made even the smallest of human beings, even from the moment they were conceived.  “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).  And when we think about sinfulness as being part of our human condition, and then realize that we are sinful from the very moment of conception, that means we’re human from the moment of conception.  But it also points to the next thing God has done for us that shows how much He values human life.

God knew that as sinners, we would be in need of a Savior.  From the moment of conception and onward, we are in desperate need of a Redeemer.  And we have One!  As the angel Gabriel told Mary “You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you are to call Him Jesus” (Luke 1:31).  Those are great words not just at Christmas, but all year round!  And it mentions two separate events, both the conception of Jesus and His birth.  And it’s His conception that is the miracle, not the birth.

As God willed it, Jesus was conceived without an earthly father, by power from on high (Luke 1:35a).  That’s why the angel calls Him the Son of God (Luke 1:35b) because that’s what He is, from the moment of His conception.    “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14a).  At the time of His conception, not just His birth.

Jesus wasn’t just God-man, but also God-embryo, if you want to use that language.  Our unholiness in our conception is replaced by His holiness in His conception.  He comes to take our place.  And that gives value to embryos the world over.  They are being redeemed!

But there’s more to it.  It doesn’t end at conception.    Jesus needed a womb to develop in.  He needed feet so that He could walk among us.  He needed hands so that He could reach out and heal the sick.  He needed a mouth so that He could teach and proclaim the kingdom of God, forgiving us of our sins. He needed a heart to be filled with compassion for the lost, for the least.  He needed a body so He could hold children in His arms and bless them.

He needed those same hands and feet so that on Good Friday they might be pierced through, as one nail after another was used to secure Him to the cross.  So that He could take our place.

He needed a mouth so that He could cry out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1) so that we wouldn’t have to.

He needed a heart pumping blood so that it would pour out from His veins, flowing from His side, to cleanse us of our sins as He fell still in death.

And He needed a body to be buried in the tomb so that on Easter morning He might rise again, breaking forth from the tomb, victorious over death and the grave alike!

Paul tells us that we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20a).  From the very time of His conception until the moments spent on the cross, it all comes to a price, a price paid for us.   And so Paul reminds the Ephesian elders to “Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood” (Acts 20:28b).  We weren’t bought by some man or even a martyr.  God purchased us back for Himself with His own blood in the person of Jesus Christ.  The price paid for our life, to destroy our sins, was high.  The value that gives to human life is incalculable.

And that price was paid for all.  For all mankind.  Every human ever conceived.  Jesus Christ died “once for all” (Hebrews 9:12).  Sadly, not all men know this, but that doesn’t change the fact.  Christ’s death and His resurrection give value to all human life.  And it’s then our task to share this good news.

So far, we have two simple answers to our question, “What has God done that gives value to human life?”

Every human being, every life has value, because we are all the works of God’s hands.  We are all a part of His creation.    And we are also all the work of His hands as He stretched them out on the cross to offer us redemption.  We are all created and redeemed.

That leaves us with one simple answer left.  Every human being has value because every life is someone God desires to call into a relationship with Himself.  He truly “wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  He wants every human being to be brought to the font, to be splashed by the water of Baptism, called in the words.  He has created and redeemed every life with His own hands  and He seeks to call us His children, to hold us, to engrave us in the palms of His hands both now and forever (Isaiah 49:16).

We are created, redeemed, and called.  It’s not complicated.  It’s not confusing.  It’s not controversial, and it’s not uncomfortable.  It’s simple.  But even in its simplicity, it speaks to all of our life’s issues.  It’s the starting point before we can even begin to answer the questions.

Let’s try on some quiz questions here: why do we strive to protect tiny embryos in Petri dishes or frozen in a fertility clinic?    Because they are little ones created and redeemed by God whom He seeks to call to Himself.

Why do we speak up for those in the womb who cannot speak?    Because they are all created, redeemed, little ones whom God wants to call.

What do we teach our little children so that when they are older, sexual promiscuity and abortion will be unthinkable?    They are special not because of what they do, how they look or how they dress, but because they are created, redeemed, and called!

What do we tell you young people as you struggle with temptations and tough choices, mood swings and confused feelings about your identity?  @We want you to know whose you are and that you can make good choices because you are created, redeemed, and called. You are His!

What do we share with that unmarried, pregnant high school young woman who is ashamed and afraid and sees only one way out?  We share that she is loved and forgiven and not forsaken because she is created, redeemed, and called. And we let her know that we care.

What do we say to women and men crushed in the aftermath of an abortion decision?  They are created, redeemed, and called, and therefore NOTHING can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

What do we share with the infertile couple desperately desiring a child?  They are created, redeemed, and called, and they can trust in the ways and will of their God. We can then pray with them and help them look at all of their options.

What can we say to those who miscarry a child they already know and love?  They are created, redeemed, and called, and God holds them in His hands.

What do we have to share with the frail and elderly who wonder about God’s purpose for their lives?  They are created, redeemed, and called, and as long as God gives them life, He gives their lives meaning and purpose.

How can we help the family struggling with a difficult end-of-life decision for a loved one?  We can encourage them to know that they and their loved one are created, redeemed, and called. They can make a decision they believe is in accordance with God’s will and trust that He will work through it.

This list could go on and on, but the answer is still the same.  Our lives have value.  Every life has value because every life is someone who has been created by God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and they have either been called or God is still seeking to call them into an everlasting relationship with Him.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.  In fact, it’s simple.  All life has value because God has created, redeemed, and called.  Amen.

 

 

 

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