Just Posted: The Issue of God Today
Richard Bastien, Journalist
Catholic Church Architecture: Beauty Where God's Glory Dwells
A 62 minute presentation and discussion with 52 magnificent slides/ pictures.
In 1927, a writer by the name of Max Ehrmann wrote a poem called “Desiderata.” “Desiderata” means “the things desired.” You may have heard of this poem. It begins like this: “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.” And the poem goes on like that. And on. And on. For example: “Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. . . . Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. . . . Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. . . . You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. . . . Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be. . . . Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
You get the idea. If all you’re going to do is give people a series of generic instructions about how they should live their lives, just a long string of good advice–well, don’t be surprised if people tune you out and even satirize what you’re saying.
So is that what we’re getting in [the] Epistle reading from Romans 12? Just a bunch of generic good advice? A series of disconnected short instructions, not much better than Desiderata? … You can hear the parallels. Romans 12: “Let love be genuine.” Desiderata: “Do not feign affection.” Romans 12: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Desiderata: “As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.” What’s the difference between these two?
The difference is that St. Paul’s instructions in Romans 12 are not disconnected, but rather connected, intimately connected to what has gone before in this epistle. In other words, the Christian’s life of love is genuine love, the real deal, because it is love connected to our life together in Christ. It is that connection that makes all the difference. Otherwise, yes, Romans 12 would be no better than Desiderata. But with that connection, there is a world of difference. …
Let’s nail down that difference. Desiderata says: “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.” The Bible says: You are a child of the God who created the universe. The “universe” did not create you, God did. Desiderata says: “Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.” The Bible says: No, God is not whatever you conceive him to be. You do not create God in your own image, whatever you want him to be. No, there is only one true God, the God who reveals himself to us in his Word–God with a name, the Lord, the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is not some generic “higher power,” distant, detached, or disconnected. No way!
Here’s the deal. God has come down to us in human flesh, in the person of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Very specific, very real, very down to earth.
Like St. Paul, I can feel free to give you these instructions, not because he or I are so superior and we’ve got it all together and we always follow through with our good intentions. No, far from it. Paul and I and you–we all are sinners, and we will continue to fall short of our admirable goals. The good news for that, though, is that there is free and full forgiveness for you in the blood of Christ. And the good Lord will pick you up, time and time again, when you fall, and he will get you going again on the right path. And so I do feel free to give you these instructions, because you are free! Free from guilt and condemnation. Free to live as God’s beloved child, holy and full of hope.
Genuine love is, at its source, rooted in God’s love for us in Christ our Savior. God’s love is costly, specific, committed love that meets us at the point of our need. God’s love for us connects us to him, and it connects us to one another. Genuine love. Let’s keep it real. And connected. And specific. God will help you to do just that this week.
With Thanks: Abridged Sermon from: St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Bonne Terre, Missouri
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