Sermon, Sunday July 7, 2014.
15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
16 “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon’; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” 25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
A young mechanic was on his lunch break in the main street and was seen with a large “K” printed on his T- shirt. When someone asked him what the “K” stood for, he said, “Confused.” “But,” the questioner replied, “you don’t spell “confused” with a “K.” The tradesman answered, “You don’t know how confused I am.”
This word in Romans 7 describes a kind of confusion we experience as followers of Jesus. It’s a confusion that comes from the frustration we experience when it hits us in the face that our body with all its drive and complexity constantly fails to respond faithfully to God’s good and pure will as he reveals to us in those 10 commandments.
- When we really want to honour God we just can’t do that all the time.
When we want to honour and love God by telling the truth about a thing, we lie;
We want to help people improve their possessions and job, but, we get envious,
We want to speak well of people and defend those misunderstood by another, but We join in the gossip and slander…and so it goes…
Paul tells the truth of our experience:
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate”.
Here’s the truth for us from this….
Those things which we as Christians despise we find ourselves doing. Those things which we as Christians desire we fail to accomplish. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our minds, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies.
As Paul describes his frustration in Romans 7, with his mind he desires to serve God. So, we agree with God’s law and rejoice that God shows us how to live well in his law. But we find ourselves watching ourselves, almost as a third party, as sin sends a signal to our body, and as our body responds, by just refusing to obey the Word of God and instead quickly and eagerly responding to the impulses and desires aroused by the idols we make and chase for selfish gain. Not a good place to be!
Jesus knows this. Jesus knows us. He describes our frustration with ourselves a little differently.
He says we are like kids playing at the train park.
We are confused. We don’t know whether we should join in a sad song of lament and loss – a funeral dirge, for this lack of understanding and ability we find ourselves in, or to join in a party song of happiness to make it all go away – a wedding tune. We are critical of John the Baptist who severed all normal links with people and became a religious zealot (as we see it) cut off from people around him. We are critical of Jesus who embedded himself with people, eating and drinking to the extent that we might call him a boozer and a glutton.
So we just sit there, settle for less and give up on hope and good change and personal growing in understanding in faith; quite paralysed by our confusion and frustrated by our inability to honour and love the very Lord whom we dearly want to love and serve!
It feels as if some malicious power holds sway over us, preventing us from moving forward.
“It is not I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (7:20).
With the force of a frustrated footy fan at the mistakes of the team, Paul, and we, yell out that question we call must come to: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Who will get me moving again?
Who will get me understanding again?
Who will help me sing the best song for the right time in all the changes of life so that I am honouring and loving the very God who I know honours and loves me in Jesus?
Who will take this heavy burden of trying to make sense of myself and fix my inabilities and my shame that comes from all the bad behaviour and bad words and thoughts I speak and do – all by myself?
Who will help me be as committed and honest as John and as loving and human as Jesus?
Who will show me another way to live with purpose, faith, trust, love, generosity, honesty, humility and all the things the Law of God rightly calls me to be?
Ahhh. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Rest will move us. Rest in him will make us get up and walk again. Rest will teach and shape us.
Rest: Rest here in his gifts. Rest here among his people. Rest here in his presence where two or three of his other children gather.
Rest: sign of the cross over your body – re-establishing your baptism and shaping your wayward body.
Rest: the voice of the people in prayer, in song, in conversation.
Rest: sign of the cross over our body with the word of the Saviour – “I forgive you”.
Rest: the voice of the Saviour powered by his Spirit bringing clarity and relief to your worried mind and shamed soul.
Rest: hands out with nothing to offer and the body and blood of the Saviour receiving forgiveness, removal of shame, healing of the body, renewing of the mind around the communal altar.
Rest: Sent to live in the rest of his blessing on your work, your marriage, your relationships, your study, your time.
Jesus is our rest.
In the sad song of loss and lament and shame
Jesus is our rest.
In our attempts to gloss over our sins and deny our inabilities.
Jesus is our rest.
To fulfil our need to be clear, be consistent, be honest, be open and keep growing and living in faith together.
Jesus is our rest.
In the name of Christ.
Read the Romans text deliberately and slowly trying to stick with Paul as bounces back and forward trying to describe the internal struggle we Christian live in.
Note your thoughts on his description and any questions that come to the fore. Share these….
How does this description of our situation as people of God fit your experience. Share your experience of this struggle.
Then hear Jesus’ description of this confusion we have about what to be and how to live – like Jesus or like John the Baptism or both!? Share your reactions to this description of us as children sitting in the marketplace unsure of what to sing – a sad song or a happy song, and unsure of who to model our life on – John the Baptist of “the Son of Man”.
We all get to that question, “Who will save me from this body I have that is still under the influence of the Old Adam, the old way, the old pursuit of other people and things for my well-being in life?” Share about a time when this was your question and where did you find Jesus Christ in this need to be freed and to live in his love.
I suggested that the way we continually get re-shaped and re-established in the good news of God’s love for us is to rest in his grace when we gather together in worship – where we receive the sign of the cross over our bodies as Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest. Learn from me. You will receive rest for your heavy spirit, your worried mind….”
How do you respond to this? is this what you know worship to be? How is worship like this or not like this for you?
We ended up by saying that in the sad songs, the happy songs, the times of confusion and frustration about not being able to respond to the Lord as fully and as faithfully as we want to, we find that “Jesus is our Rest” and he is the one who gets us moving again, gets us believing again, gets us hoping again. Share your thoughts on this.
O Jesus, every moment be in my heart and mind. Help me rest in you and so be as committed and truthful as John and as compassionate and connected to others as you. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.