Peace – Prayer – Joy – Love
People

Children in the Hands of a Loving God

A. We have a problem today. A paradox, perhaps. I was going to talk about:

a. Family likeness: If we’re God’s children, shouldn’t we know Abba?

i. But our country/our own faith tribe seems torn in identity crisis

1. Today we are celebrating with an outdoor service & picnic
2. And yet we are grieving yesterday’s violence & hatred.
3. And we even have Christian leaders advocating violence.

b. Conflicting messages about who Abba is!

  1. Two Thousand years ago, we have four Gospels worth of the life & teachings of Jesus & several epistles (letters) interpret/apply; compassion, forgiveness, enemy love, life giving, Beatitudes, etc.
  2. Back in 1741 Jonathan Edwards famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” demanded urgent calls to repent based on the fiery imagery, and the dismal picture of God’s retributive action against people. Ever since, we have been sure that God is angry about sin and unrelentingly angry at people.
  3. This week, Robert Jeffress said, “A Christian writer asked me, ‘Don’t you want the president to embody the Sermon on the Mount?'” he said, referring to Jesus’ famous sermon. “I said absolutely not.” … “[Romans 13] gives the government to the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment …”

c. It became that we bought into bondage!
Somehow we got stuck on slavery, serving a savage celestial sourpuss!

  1. And yet, in this passage we see something entirely different from the angry and violent Father that we have so often designed for ourselves and embraced.
  2. It seems worth asking how we can know the Father?
    Even, how others can know the Father?

    1. God’s love was revealed among us in this way:
      God sent his only Son into the world
      so that we might live through him.
      In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us
      and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
      Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.
    2. God’s love is known here in two primary ways:
      1. Through Jesus

        1. The primary way we know God is in & through Jesus
        2. What we hear Jesus saying is what God says
        3. What we see Jesus doing is what God does

      2. Through our love for one another
    3. And yet we continue to insist on imagining this angry, violent father
  3. God’s response to our violence was to come down here himself & endure it
    a. The cross isn’t the Father’s violence unleashed on the Son
    b. The cross is our human violence unleashed on God – who takes it

E. Our human response to that is supposed to be love; for God & one another.

  1. We are supposed to be inspired to love and mercy for one another
  2. We aren’t supposed to continue in judgment, fear, hatred, & violence
  3. for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29
  4. The violence we witnessed yesterday is born of Fear
  5. The violence advocated earlier this week is born of Fear
  6. If you wanted a real world example/illustration, there it is.
  7. As children of a loving God, adopted into his eternal kingdom, we must reject fear; we must reject hatred; we must reject violence, oppression, injustice, prejudice of every kind. It is not our DNA

F. What is the Good News for us from this passage?

  1. Adoption into the LORD’s eternal family is not earned, “not that we loved God but that he loved us”
  2. Jesus is the revelation of God to humanity … to us!
    Pastor & author, Brian Zahnd writes,
    “Love is how we are to think about God, talk about God, believe in God … Any depiction of God, from whatever source, is subordinate to the revelation of God seen in Jesus.”
  3. God is revealed through us when we embody love for each other. Romans 10: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

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