A Matter of Life and Death

This morning I preached on the passage in the gospel of Luke where Jesus is asked about the connection between sin and suffering (Luke 13:1-5).  First, some in the crowd ask him about some people from Galilee who were slaughtered by Pontius Pilate.  Jesus asks, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than others from Galilee?”  Then, he is asked about eighteen people who died when a tower collapsed in Jerusalem.  Here again, Jesus asks if these people died because of their sins.  Jesus answers both of his own questions with a clear, “No.”  God does not punish us for our sins with suffering and death; God offers forgiveness, grace, love and mercy in response to the world’s sin and suffering.

I preached this sermon because I know there are people in my congregation who are hurting and believe that God is punishing them for something they have done.   Sometimes they don’t even know what they did, only that God must be angry at them about something because their life is so hard.

Then, this evening, I taught a lesson about forgiveness at our recovery ministry, Celebrate Recovery.  I noted that forgiveness includes accepting God’s forgiveness, forgiving those who have wronged us, and forgiving ourselves.  There was a man there who is drinking himself to death because of his inability to accept that God forgives him and so, is unable to forgive himself.

God’s love and forgiveness can save lives.  I have seen it happen again and again.  But one of the most difficult things about being a pastor is that while we can preach it, we can teach and council it, and we can try to embody it, we cannot make someone believe and live in the knowledge that God loves and forgives them.  This is where we need to practice letting go and letting God, no matter how painful it is.

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 3:44 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. Forgiveness is a process. Or that is how I have experienced it. First I have to surrender my will and my life to a power greater than myself. Then I need to believe that this new found power has got my back. Then I need to take inventory of myself And make amends where I can because unless I am aware of the patterns that aren’t working I can not change. Then comes more action… I include God and others to help me make different choices and I experience different results and piece by piece the forgiveness comes. And then I pray to stay connected to this power every moment of every day.

    I use to approach life from a place of lack and the world was out to get me. Today using the process above I am able to see life from a place of abundance and know that no matter what happens I will be OK.

  2. I can relate to how difficult it is when seeing someone like that man. Having the knowledge and experience that I have in my recovery through God’s Grace and Mercy, if I had the ability to take that man’s pain and addiction like that guy in the “Green Mile”, I would do it. But I can’t and it has already been done for us at Calvary. Part of his story and others is that the traditional church has left these souls out in the cold thinking that redemption isn’t within their reach. I am so happy to be part of a church that will meet people no matter where they are on life’s journey just like the prodigal son’s Father. We need to run to embrace them where they are and walk them home helping them carry their burden. By the way, I thought your winter analogy was great. You made a excellent presentation and message tonight. It was also not a coincidence that the audience that was there tonight, was there. I was not surprised at all when he walked in. It was a Godincidence. I thank you again for being part of it. All we can do, is do all we can do in the way that Jesus would do it. We did that tonight. It’s God’s work not ours. Take care and peace…

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