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Good, morning friends. How are you doing today? Good, good to see you all. My name is Alex in one of the pastor’s here. And it was great to enjoy Easter with you my first east of here, it was so fun to see some people that I hadn’t met before, all appropriately covered by marks, their faces were at least, but it was good to have so many people in the building and I just wanna say thank you to the team that did such a great job putting that together, alien you on working on these flowers and other display stuff, those were a labor of love. If you’re wondering, could you have a flower to take home, you like 30th in line right now, all so no flowers in all probability for you, and would jump in into this post east a series. And I wanted to give you some of the why, why are we doing this, where we’re talking about questions that we might be asking about faith, and Teresa at director, she resourced us with these questions, she went… Some analytics thing, analytics thing, I don’t really understand. And she figured out what were some of the questions that were asked most about Christianity, about faith in Jesus, and this list will work through over the next few weeks, and you may wonder, yeah, why are we doing…
Listen, and the truth is that some of these questions are difficult topics, it would be easier to just avoid them, but these questions are being asked somewhere and think about what the life looked like maybe 30 years ago.
30, 40 years ago, if you had questions about faith if you are uncertain about something, Well, what did you do? You have to find somebody that knew something about the subject and spend some time with them, or you have to go to a library and get out of book or something that… I remember when we used to do that, we used to get late charges and all those kind of things back in our old lives, back when things were different.
And so you had to take that seriously to get the information. Now, what do you do? In case you missed it, they invented this thing called Google a while back is also YouTube and other stuff, some of you are… I know some of you are still using out of Mister or something like that, or some as a gives people in the crowd, but there’s this way that you can access information that is so different than anything that we’ve had before, and so now all you need to do is Google the question. And you get some kind of answer. Now, it might be a good answer, it might be a well-researched one, it might be a… An ad, so that takes seriously the Bible and all the different things that we’ll be talking about, or it might not…
So there’s people around, people like Sam Harris and they might be somewhat familiar to some of you, very charismatic guy, very intelligent guy. Does he have some good points? Often he does, but then there’s also ways that you listen to some of his stuff and you’re like, Okay, you’re coming up that from a definite premise, you have already decided a chunk of your answer before you began, and there’s a whole group of people that may be looking for answers and getting bad answers from the resources that we have available to us right now, so one of the things we wanted to do is, one, provide a resource where we could actually talk about some of those questions, but to provide you… Those of you that have landed here, a resource because you may not be asking these questions, but you have friends, co-workers, family members that are asking these questions, or perhaps even worse, may have given up on asking these questions because of some of the answers that they’ve gotten. So we would love you guys to be people that can start to have those kinds of dialogues, as we’re gonna jump in to question one this week, and I’m going to start question one with a story not long ago, I had a beautiful…from my perspective, at least, day planned.
I was playing golf with some friends, I cleared the whole day, I was looking forward to it, it was beautiful. Sunday morning, I got my finest golf out for an… I was polishing my clubs, all the things that those of us that are nerdy enough to take golf seriously do, and I took my clubs outside and I put them into my car. Now, after this, my wife and I had a little bit of a dialogue about exactly who was driving which car and she talk… Maybe she’d drop me off so she could drive a certain car and all those different things and all of that in a normal marriage stuff, and then I have this moment, she drove off a down the driveway, I had this moment where I realized she’s driving the car, with my golf clubs. If now, I ran down the road after he… We lived on a dirt track of another Derrick, and I can remember running parallel with the car, I was getting up some good speed and I’m looking and I can see her face and she’s zones… Exactly what she should be. I will say she’s like, on the road, and I start looking around and like, Can I pick up a stone and throw it at the car, and I’m trying to judge, Is that stone too small and that it won’t gather our attention if that one too big.
And then I’ll just put a hole through the window of the car, and I’ve got my kids in the back of the car. That’s a serious thing. And so finally, I just let the car go and I grab my phone in my pocket and I start calling, and it keeps going to voicemail, voice mails, voice, man, like I say, throwing a text message and I’m literally using every medium I possibly have within my resources to get her attention and no reply it, I call six voice mails, a few text messages, no response whatsoever, and I’m left dealing in the dirt with this question, Why do bad things happen to good people? Now, of course, in the scheme of things, this bad thing is not that big a deal, all I actually had to do was go and get my second set of golf clubs, of the carrot and use those for the day, was a ideal now, but it could have worked for the day, what I actually did was make a drive of the way to bring me my actual… A good set of golf clubs, and then everything was fine, but we know, we experience things about the world from a very early age that tell us that maybe everything isn’t as it should be.
Here’s the story about the famous think of theologian, Nazi protestor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer name might be familiar to some of you. And he actually spent some of his early years in Barcelona as a youth pastor, and he talks about this experience he had, were one day a young boy comes running up to and he has tears pouring down his face, and this young boy runs up to Detrick Bonner and says her, Bonhoeffer, he office Dad, and he’s devastated, and Devonian is like, Who is this guy? That has died, and so we start asking the kid, well, what’s going on, What is troubling you so much, who is hair Wolf? And
The little boy says, How offers my German Shepherd that died this morning, and it’s not maybe as serious as a human being close to him doing, but this boy was devastated. This German Shepherd woke him up every morning, they did everything together, they were constant companions, and now this companion is missing, and the small child says to Detroit, Bahnhof, I was so mad at God this morning, and then says, Well, I see how off again. And detonates, what do you tell a small child that wants to know… Will I see my dog again? Do I say something like, where we don’t know if animals have souls, so we’re not sure that they’ll be in Heaven dot, And he says, a sad Tom was this. I said, God knows that you love her walk, and God loves you very much indeed. And so I don’t know how all of this works out, but I believe at some point in this well beyond this wealth, that somehow God unites those that love each other, and I believe you’ll see how off again, and he said he was at a good answer was in a theological answer, I don’t know.
But at this moment, when dealing with the pain of the world, what else do I say? And this child went away with Bucky, I know then I’ll see how off…
Again, we from an early age experienced this problem of a broken world, the problem of pain, the problem of evil, in what ways is our world broken, what we see every… I gave a couple of somewhat ridiculous examples, but we see broken us all over the place, and it’s confusing as well, because the times or places we see broken us, they don’t necessarily make sense. Why is it that we see pictures like this… This was a famous picture taken by a journalist, and I could tell you about a child in pain, I could tell you about a child experience in glass or hunger, and you might ask questions. But you only need to look at this picture. That’s
Why we say A picture paints a thousand words, because you look at this picture, you like, I see… I see the pain and I don’t have an answer for it, and why do we see suffering, especially around children loss and death and all of those different things, and yet we hear other stories about the reverse… This is done a good… All famous Australian scientists. A couple of years ago, he said, I’m going to Switzerland to end my life. My quality of life has just diminished at 104 and I no longer want to keep doing it, and we left wrestling with these questions, why is it that the young die and what is at the old left and their condition deteriorates. The questions that I’m sure most of you have processed at different points, they come down to this problem of evil, why is the evil… Why is the bad in the world if the song that we sang last is true, you are good, you are good. You’ll never let me down with… Avoid that. And if you’re not following Jesus on a journey, if you’re outside, I’m sure a life of faith in faith, I’m sure you’ve had those questions, and maybe it’s the thing that stops you jumping in and to follow in Jesus.
You’re like, How can I believe in a God that allows stuff like this to happen and… These are new questions. These questions have been around for a long time. Jesus was asked a question somewhat like this, in a chapter called Luke, and I’ll throw out these references if you’re not the Bible, neuter faith-like addresses there within the text, and you can look them up for some of you… You’ll know exactly what to do with them. So good for you that every time there was some presence, that there was some present who told him about the Galilean whose blood, Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Pilot, this ruler of this area of the world had taken some Jews that they’re in the middle of religious worship just like us, and he had killed them. And these people come, Jesus and say, What do you think about this? And Jesus says to them, Do you think that because these Galilean suffered in this way, they were worse sinners than all of the other Galilean, he’s on some may actually not give us everything that we want, we may want more from him than that, more or simply a will get to some of why, maybe this is his answer, but it’s interesting to know that even back then, this is a question people were processing, you are not alone in asking this question, and here’s a couple of passage, which within the Bible, we get to see the human emotion that comes out when we experience this problem of evil, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Are you so far away? When I grow to help.
Every day I call to you, my God, but You do not answer. Every night, I lift my voice, but I find no relief. My life is poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax. Melting within me. My strength is dried up like sun baked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have lab in the dust and left me for Dead, maybe you and your lowest points have prayed prayer similar to that, centered around God, why there is this situation and you are not acting… Why exactly is it that you are not acting… How about this one? We are given no signs from God, no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be, how long will the enemy mock you go with the full evil, your name forever. Why do you take back your hand, your right hand, take it from the folds of your garment, the picture that this writer gives us that there’s all of the struggle going on, and what the God of the universe has done is he’s taken his hand and sent… Not acting. Not doing anything. You’re gonna stand on the sidelines and watch. And when you read passages in the Old Testament, particularly, maybe one of the big attentions is this, that there’s moments where it seems like God is behind some of the wars that take place, and you’re like, Wow, he’s got like the kid in the playground that’s aging, the other two kids are, it’s like fight, fight, fight. Is that what the world is… Is that how it works? And you can see why for so many people, problems like this, get them to a point where they say, I’m not sure that I can get on board with a life of faith, the
Famous philosopher Voltaire or the earthquake in Portugal in 1755 and said, No, done and he wrote all of this passage about how can you believe that there’s a guard behind a universe that has kids crushed under piles of marble from buildings that are falling down, and we get that tension, right? To give you a more modern example, this is a verse by a band called Fun, it’s in a song of theirs called one foot, and it’s a processing almost with God of some of the things that they see in the world. It’s quite direct, but here we go, but I will die for my own sins, thanks a lot. Will rise up ourselves. Thanks for Nothing at or
So up off the ground or for fathers and nothing but dust now, and he’s wrestling with a relationship with God and some of his community and the struggles that they’ve been through. He gets to a point where he says, Not interested, whatever you think you are offering me, no, I don’t need it, I’ll be fine by myself, the problem of evil has been called the biggest problem for the Christian faith now, just in the same way as the problem of good is a problem for anyone that wants to give you an atheistic point of view, the fact that there are things that we would all say, know that is good, that is a good way to act is a problem for those that would say that the atheistic point of view is the way to go, but this problem of evil is something that followers of Jesus have wrestled with for years and… Yes, and yes, sometimes the explanation has been things like, Well, suffering eventually produces good, and there’s some truth to that, if you look at the lives of most CEOS of Fortune 500 companies, people that are found in big companies, most of them have suffering early in their lives, and somehow creates a resolute No…
Some other people have said, Well, there has to be all of this suffering to get the world to where it needs to be, other writers have said things like, Well, some of the suffering, it shows some attributes of God that you wouldn’t see otherwise, and that’s an important thing as well, but I’m not sure in the midst of suffering, how it helpful all of those examples are and I Aintree just… Well, what does God say about suffering? Surely within the work of Scripture, these books that we have these 66 books by different… Right, surely there must be something that he says that gives us this nice, comfortable… And so to say, Well, that is why, that helps me understand what does God say about our broken world, and I’m gonna disappoint you a little bit because he doesn’t say much… He doesn’t say much. The opening part of the Bible, this book, Genesis, which means beginning, start with a world that is good, this first chapter of Genesis, what is called polemic, it is a sermon, a poetic sermon, almost every other religion of that time in the ancient Near East. It had a focal point, it said that creation was God, it was God, and he also wasn’t particularly interested in good versus evil, creation did not have any particular interest whether you lived or died, you didn’t matter, good and evil were very…
Just arbitrary terms. Who could tell the difference? Anyway, and the first chapter of Genesis says over and over again, no, creation is good, it’s not God, but it is good. And this guy made it to be good, there’s this repeated pattern of seven days, and after every day, God says he made it and it was good, it takes every element that you can see, the sun, the stars, the sky, the heavens, the waters, the land, the animals, the humans and says, good, good, good, good, good, good, good. It starts off… And that is as much as the Bible is willing to say. And then when it talks about the way that the world is broken, all it does is it points to a garden, and it points to this a story that for those of you that were with us to alluded to, but didn’t jump into… And we get to jump in now, it talks about two people, Adam and Eve in a garden with a choice, a choice that goes wrong, and now… The serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden? So pause for a second.
We’re told that God has made this garden, that there’s all of these different fruits that can be eaten, but there is one tree specifically that they cannot eat from, it seems within the text, there’s this tension, there’s this idea that we are invited into relationship with God, but relationship or love has to have a choice, right?
Has to be something that you enter into voluntary, imagine on the day that Laura and I got married, she was having second thoughts, which would potentially seem like a reasonable decision, she’s marrying someone like me, but imagining that moment, I’m like, Well, I’ve actually spoken to your dad and he says You have to go ahead with it anyway, so you really don’t have any choice, and they’re gonna march you down the aisle, and if you don’t do it, then you’re gonna be arrested or something like that’s some ridiculous situation, which actually has been reality for a chunk of history. Ridiculously. But it’s that love. If there’s no choice to back out, if there is no decision to opt in, is it really love and is it really, really relationship, and the best explanation for the existence of this tree we’re gonna learn about is God longs for relationship
Of the U and I to be in relationship with him. There has to be an opportunity to opt out, there has to be a path of the freedom that says, No, I’m not actually interested in that, and this tree sits there waiting for the choice. And this is what we read, the woman said to the serpent, We made fruit from the trees in the garden. But God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die. This choice to have life is mirrored by another choice that leads away from life. You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman, for God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you’ll be like God knowing good and evil.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. This is the moment that the Bible, that the writers were point to and say, Well, this is the beginning of evil in the world, this is the moment that it began, became broken to go back to our story of her wolf. The young boy talks about how Maries a god, but also articulate, and I was so mad at Adam and Eve to… This was all their fault. The beginning of the story, when God, if he was asked about good and evil, this is the only place that scripture goes, it says somewhere in this story, we see the moment evil enters and we see that in this evil exists simply as a whole, in goodness. Things are made good, and then there’s the opportunity for the opposite or the absence of good, there’s the light, and the light creates the possibility that there’s a shadow and isn’t that our experience of the world most of the time when we look at the world and think about the ways things are fractured and broken, think about things that we dislike things that cause that tension there, the ways that we see evil in the world most of the time, what we see is a warping of the good thing, we see a taking of the good thing, and it’s twisted in some ways, there’s these good gifts, things like sex that can be twisted and used in negative ways, and when we think about a world that it seems was created around this idea of love freely entered into about…
Think about the fact that almost every relationship we see is centered on this word love, now the Greeks had forwards for love, so it was very easy to to see what kind of love they were talking about, they had a love that talked about sexual love, they had to love that talked about family, love, they had a love that talked about pride in one’s country and all those different things, we have just the one… But most of the time, I would say that you and I, when we see love, we know it, and when we see the absence of love, we also know it, those of you that are big fans of the TV show, The Office, there’s this side sort of character called Ryan Howard, who is in this on and off again relationship with one of the other office workers, Kelly Kapoor, and unless this moment where they break up and he articulates what he thinks might be love.
Maybe we weren’t right together, but it’s weird. I’d rather she be alone than with somebody, he’s that love and to him, it’s a genuine question with his progress and… Yeah, we say, no, of course. That’s not love.
Most of the time we see the good gift, and yet we’re very able for the most part, to see where it gets walked. I think the problem for us as an aside, notice this, most of the time we have a very… A subjective view when it concerns us personally, were willing to bend the rules for us, even if we don’t want the rules to be bent for somebody else, but the articulation of this book Genesis seems to be that the thing is made good and evil exists. Simply as a way that the good thing is twisted, it is a whole… In goodness, it is a shadow, IT is not as things are supposed to be, and we see after this decision that things unravel very quickly, this is Genesis Chapter Four, Cain and Abel, these two brothers fight. And Cain kills Abel and God’s responses. Whatever you’ve done, listen, Your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground, God’s articulation is I see the evil and I’m pained by it, this isn’t how it was supposed to be, this is broken, this isn’t… Right. Humanity unravels based on this one decision, but this text as well will suggest that lurking behind this decision, this garden moment, there is this other thing.
There’s this thing that I can’t fully articulate, maybe it’s beyond our understanding, but we have this creature, the serpent, that later will be identified as this character Satan or the devil, and somewhere we get this window into this thing that’s beyond that space, so that may be eternal that somewhere the world was broken because of some other creature that is fighting against God is trying to compete with him, but again, the Bible doesn’t get too deep into excuses or articulations of, This is why evil is there. It simply says It was made good. And now it’s not… The Bible doesn’t say much about why the world is broken, it’s more interested in what God does about it, it’s more interested in action. So what does God do in this broken wealth and a good place for us to start, and we’re gonna jump through a couple of passages as we do this, a good place for us to start might be with the story of a guy called Job. Job’s a man who is good and he knows he’s good.
He’s a man who is rich, a man who has a great family, a man for whom everything seems to be working out wonderfully well, and then there’s this moment where it all disappears, it all falls apart. And Job articulates after sitting for seven days in the dust, he finally gets mad and he starts articulating to God just why he is so upset, and let’s look at some of what he says, Oh, that I had someone to hear me, I sign. Now, my defense, let the Almighty answer you. Let my accuser put his indiaman in writing. Surely, I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown, I would give Him an account for my every step. I would present it to him as a ruler from Job’s perspective, he says, I wish I could get God in front of me, and then I would tell him why bad things shouldn’t happen to good people, and I am a good person, I can demonstrate day after day, after day, my life is like a rule, I do what is right, and God is ranged in treating me this way. That’s
Job’s articulation, like, This is not right. This is not fair, this is not just as maybe you sat where he sits and he be you like… That is what I would say in those situations as well, if you’re honest.
And after Job’s response that turns up, but again, never articulate why this has happened to Job, he really asks over the course of a few chapters, just who job thinks he is, he suggests that like God’s thinking is somewhere up here, and how can you possibly understand all of the workings of the universe? Ask some questions like, Were you there when I hung stars in the sky? Were you there when I created the oceans? When I created these great creatures, how could you possibly understand all this, and that’s a tension for us as well, because to us, I would suggest… Is that answer particularly satisfying to me personally, I read it. I’m like, Well, yes, but surely. Doesn’t Job deserve an answer? Doesn’t job desire fairness? I’m not sure the text works necessarily for you and I, as we read it initially… Yeah, what’s interesting is it seems to work for job, somewhere in the midst of God turning up, Joe becomes not okay with this situation, but he comes to a resolution point, this is his response to all that God will say. You asked, who is this that obscures my plans with our knowledge? Surely, I spoke of things, I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
You said, listen now and I will speak. I will question you and you shall answer me. My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and I repent in dust and ashes. Somewhere this character experiences God in the midst of his suffering, and it seems a strange as it might seem to us, that for him, that was enough, he becomes a piece with this situation… This is as far as the first part of the Bible. This Old Testament will go in addressing the problem of evil, but
The story really picks up when we look at how Jesus and His incarnation, and if you’re unfamiliar with that word, incarnation, it simply means his presence, immersion in the world, he is living our life as a human being, God in our flesh, it really picks up in this moment where Jesus becomes in KANA in this world, and it seems that God’s holy of dealing with this problem of evil, is that story? Is that moment? This is the first moment that Jesus is introduced in this book called John, and if you get a chance, if you’re new to faith, if you’re figuring it out, take this book, John, you can find it in the Bible and just read that whole book, cover to cover, we’re gonna dip in to four or five different chapters, and we’re gonna try and cover the whole Book of John in some way during the course of this morning, which means we’re gonna be here to like 230… So prep yourselves, Panera Bread will be here in a moment. They’re gonna back the truck in and we’re gonna have a blast. This is the opening part, in the beginning was the word, Jesus, and
The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. So the original articulation is that somewhere in the eternal spatial world, there is God who exists in three persons, there is Father, Son, Jesus and Spirit, and Jesus becomes in Cana in this world, through him, all things were made, without him, nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of Omani, the light shines. And the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Think about what we talked about with Genesis, this broken world, God evil as a whole, and goodness, it is the shadow from the light, and it seems that this Jesus story is originally centered around, he will come and He will bring light in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. So when we read this, what we might expect from this book, John, is that Jesus rides in like the carbon with the white hat at the end of the Western stories. He’s gonna come in and he’s gonna fix the problem. And yet, for the first half of this book, Job for the first 11 chapters, what we see is not a lot of fixing, but a lot of standing alongside. For the first few chapters of John, Jesus picks out those that are hurting, those are the wounded that are most broken, and some of them he heals, and others he defends and protects from those that are accusing them, but it seems like for the first half of John what Jesus does is He walks alongside those that the most broken who are experiencing this world and it’s evil in the most poignant ways. There’s a moment in John Chapter Eight, way standing, teaching and the religious leaders of the day drag out a woman and they say, Jesus, we have caught her in the act of adultery, suspiciously, the man is allowed to escape off into the day, but there’s this moment where they say, Where is the justice? She is part of the broken world, where is the justice condemn her because she is a symptom of this broken world, and
Jesus doesn’t condemn her, he simply stands and then kneels and then begins to write in the dust. We’re not told what he wrote, we not given any information, but whatever he writes is powerful and pointing enough that the accusers and disappear for the first half of the book, there is this constant tension between Jesus and the religious leaders, they keep saying to him, Well, when are you gonna fix things? They keep asking me whether he has the right to do what he’s doing, and he never really gives them a specific answer.
It seems to the first half of the book like they are the enemy, they are the ones He is fighting against, but we’ll find out in a second that that isn’t the case as it turns out, but
This first half of the book with Jesus encountering all of these different people, they’re broken, thus the need for healing the wounded-ness culminates in this chapter, which to me just exemplifies some of what Jesus came to do, this is the death of a man called Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, Jesus arrives after Lazarus sickness has taken its effect, Lazarus is now dead and he’s left with his family, his two sisters. And we’re told when Jesus saw Hawthorn, the Jews would come along with a also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Where have you laid him? He asked, Come and see Lord, they replied. Jesus wept. And then the Jews said, See how he loved him. But some of them said, Could not he open the eyes of the blind? And have kept this man from dying. You see, some of that tension guard, could you not act in the world, Jesus, could you not fix this situation, and yet Jesus answered to this moment of evil, this moment of death, this moment of grief, this moment of loss, is to stand and to weep. Never justify is where you came. Leaner justifies why Lazarus died.
He stands with his sisters that are grieving, and he cries tears, he Christ… To us, Jesus stands along us in our pain and our misery, and He says about the world, this is not how it is supposed to be, when you say that this world is broken, when you say that there is something that needs fixed, fixing, it seems like God and Cara in the world says, You are absolutely right. I agree with you 100%. This is not the world as it was designed, there is no excuse for it, there is no real explanation of it, there was simply a standing there and saying… Yes, yes, this is broken. The Japanese theologian macadam says that imagine what it would look like for Jesus to follow out the same process in your life and The disasters that we see in the world around us, imagine what it would be to see Jesus standing alongside those that lost people on September 11th, imagine what I would see. A base standing alongside those little lost people during this virus, this pandemic, and what we see is a picture of a God who is in Cana in the world, and he stands alongside us and he weeps. He stands alongside us and he weeps. As we move on to Chapter 12, we see a change in Jesus, He begins to articulate not just his confession that this world is not as it’s supposed to be, but he starts to unveil what he sees the real back as being, it’s not a battle against these religious leaders, it’s not a dealing with them, there’s this thing that he seems to believe he came to fix that connects with a chunk of what God does about this broken world. Now, my soul is trouble. This is John Chapter 12. And what should I say, Father, save me from this hour, no. It was for this reason, I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.
The crowd that was there and heard it said He attended, the Sudan angel had spoken to him, and Jesus said that this voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world. Now, the Prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, borrow all people to myself, as Jesus articulate why he came to earth, he says I came to fight a battle.
There is this thing that is going on that connects to that Genesis chapter three story, a thing that maybe is beyond our understanding and certainly beyond the understanding of his early audience there, and He says, I came to do this thing, I
Came to fix the world because this world is broken, and there is a reason. There is a prince and a ruler of this well, and Jesus saw His death and resurrection as this moment of bathes moment where he would win a victory over all of the things that make this wall Broken, that he would fix the problem. It seems that when Jesus wants to give an explanation for the problem of evil, He doesn’t say a lot, he does an awful lot, he involves himself in a broken wall and says, I’m willing to fix it, I’m willing to get myself… Massage my hands dirty a few years ago, and I had to give my wife money to tell the story because she doesn’t always like me telling us, but a few years ago, we were in a store together and she was pregnant and she has terrible morning sickness, and so there was this moment as we were shopping, there was just the two of us, and I remember looking and seeing that she was starting to feel a little bit Quay, and I started to get a little bit nervous, and as she looked worse and worse and worse, so she said, I’ve really gotta get out of here.
And so we start running down if we gotta get out of the store, and then there’s this moment where she stopped and she just begin to tatooin thing. And so in that moment as she begins to throw up whatever the contents of a stomach, I stand next to her and I do this, and I just catch as much the formats I can, and then I have this moment where I’m thinking… What was… I think it was really early in our marriage, if it was to a who is in a busy with… But there was this willingness out of relationship to involve myself in that worst of moments, that moment of the thing is coming out and it is messy and it is disgusting, and out of the instinct of love, what I did was not run, not hide, I threw my hands there and said, I’m gonna get myself involved in this situation, it seems that that is somewhat akin to how God thinks about the problem of evil, yes, there might be explanations, but I wonder how satisfying any of those explanations, whatever. Be for those worst of evils that we encounter, it seems that what God says is, I’m not going to justify it, I’m not going to explain it, what I come and do is I will come and stand alongside you and say, No, that is not how…the way they’re supposed to be, and I will immerse myself in it and I will do what is necessary to fix it.
This is what another says about what happens on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the powers of deed, their best or they’re worse on Friday, those powers could not prevail, they are shown to be helpless before God’s powerful life, and so the church continues to mock death and to celebrate God’s gift of life. That will not be defeated. It seems that Jesus believed that his own incarnation in the world was about fixing that problem of evil and pain, added source, and saying that the world will not be the same, the Prince of this world will be overthrown, that life will be different, except it’s not… Is it… At least in our experience right now, we still experience all of those things, some of you have lost loved ones this year, you’ve experienced death, you’ve experienced morning grief and pain, some of you are experiencing it today, if Jesus fixed all of this… If he fought this battle, if his death was this victory, if His death was for us and for this world, and why isn’t everything as it should be, what is in it or… Okay, and
We see the same right of John that wrote this text, we’ve looked at were later to churches asking some of the same question. And what he said was this, Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made. Now, but we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. These writers of these texts, as they expounded on what Jesus did, what they were able to say is that Jesus did something once and for all time, he gave his life for you, and you can be a different person because of his sacrifice. He took that on himself for you, and not only that, He took on the pain and brokenness of this world, and he held that, he embraced that, he dealt with that.
He took on the powers that are behind those texts. The thing that’s lacking that Genesis won’t even speak about, the fact that this world was already broken with his universe or this creation is already flawed in some way, way before Adam and Eve, that there’s this character that is on the side of evil that lurks behind the scenes wanting to do damage, and he says Jesus also took on that and he defeated that, and that is his answer to the problem of evil, but he also says, there’s this thing to come, this idea of Already not yet everything is done, it is fixed in your hat, we wait for this world, that one day will be what it should be. What does God promise about this broken? Well.
This is the final… Well, next, final, penultimate chapter of the Bible, we looked at the first one and the third one. This is right at the end, then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. Remember those words, that language is important for the first, heaven and the first, as had passed away, there was no longer. And he see the sea was seen as this place of chaos is place where dragons learned, so any idea that the sea would disappear would be a good thing in this culture. I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, from God, prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for a husband. And this is the verse I want you to focus on. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Look, God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he would dwell with them. They will be his people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
He was seated on the throne, said, I am making everything new. And then he said, Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And the time frame that Jesus lived around 2000 years ago, there were these things that were called Tea jazz tears were thought to be precise, people would actually collect them, and we think about Jesus weeping by the grave of Lazarus and think about how precious MI, those tears have been, if somebody collected them, but he has cried some of the same tiers that you and I have cried that our friends that are co-workers, that this world regularly craze, and what he says is One day, I’ll wipe them all away. In this passage, there is no explanation, there is no particular focus on… Oh, by the way, remember that your pain was necessary to get you where you needed to go, although it might be true for high, now there is no focus on it was showing some characteristic of God that wouldn’t have been shown otherwise, although that might be true as well, his only focus is lifting up this person and saying, I will wipe away the tears, there will be normal death or mourning or crying or pain.
This is the writer David Bentley Hart, he says this, As for comfort, when we see it, I can imagine none greater than the happy knowledge that when I see the death of a child, papers the greatest ever. We can imagine, I do not see the face of God, but the face of his enemy. The God will not unite all of histories, many strands in one great synthesis that will judge much of history, false and damned, that you will not simply reveal the sublime logic or fall in nature, but we’ll strike off the Federici creation languages and that… Rather than showing us how the tears have a small girl suffering in the dark when necessary for the building of the kingdom, He will instead raise up and wipe away all tears from our eyes. And there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. Not any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and he that sits upon the earth or say, Behold, I make all things new. The way that God deals with pain is to come into this world to embrace it, to amuse Himself in it, to say that what he did in Jesus and His death and resurrection ultimately fixes it, and yet we wait still for this Moorehead, but I will also…
I will make all things new. There will be no more death. No More Mourning. No more pain, no more suffering. In light of all of this, my question is, how do we respond, what are we supposed to do for those of us, and if you’re not following Jesus, you get an escape on this, because I think this is something that if we’re called to follow Jesus, that we are called to do specifically as a church community, as individuals, how do we respond to this in the light of what Jesus has done, in light of the fact that he says that I came and I must myself in the mess of this world, that my death on some level fixes it, what should we be inspired to do in our communities, what would be inspired to do in our relationships with those that we love, those that are walking from pain, and the first thing I would remind you of is to do what Jesus did, confess the heart. Don’t try and explain it away. The word confess in its Greek origins doesn’t mean to say sorry, it has that some of that connotation as they were developed, but it is called The Word quite supplements to say the same as as Jesus stood by the grave of his friend, Lazarus next Lazar assist as he said, No, this isn’t right.
Essentially with his tears, he said, This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. And you and I are invited to walk alongside a broken world and say, No, you are right, when you are mad, when you are heart, when you question what, God seems to have His hand in his pocket. We agree with you. Yes, there is this ultimate story that we wanna share, but to stand alongside and say, Yes, the world seems so often to be broken and it shouldn’t be… This way is where we get to start. We get to confess the heart, and we get to embrace the dirt, we get to embrace the mess of this world, the chaos, the mess of people’s lives of loved ones, some of them, because of their own decisions, definitely. When we get to walk alongside a while that is hiring and broken, and we invited to get ourselves messy to get ourselves involved, to this wonderful story about a monastery up in the hills in Santa Barbara. The
Monks used to live there and they used to get to overlook the city, they were up above the noise, the pollution that were in the fresh air, they could contemplate all day long. And then a fire ripped through the mountains and they had to move and share space with the nuns down in the city, and as they waited for the insurance payment to come through, they experienced a completely different way of life, they got the noise of school kids on their way to school, the Hanks of the morning traffic, there was no peace anymore, where they were, and as the insurance payment came in, they had to make a decision, did they re-build on top of the mountain, but unanimously they decided was staying here, was staying down in amongst people because they had seen the life of God in amongst the people that they were doing ministry and… And I have had the same experiences. I’ve gone to countries like Hey, titer, Romania, to the Philippines where I’ve got to experience life with those that are poor and often, quite literally dirty. I remember playing football with a scar with 100 Hasan kids and just the smell and the noise of the room and having this moment of contemplation in amongst it, we were in a room maybe a quarter of the size of this packed in and just thinking, I am experiencing God in this place in a way that I am rarely experienced him, recently, we are invited to confess the heart, the brokenness, were invited to embrace Tess spent his time with those that seemed to be lowest, and then we’re invited to get to work.
Confess the hurt, embrace the dirt and get to work, because the out-working of what Jesus did, this ultimate victory invites us into the story and says, What part might you play in this… Nobody is made to do nothing and sit on the sidelines, and I love when we see people all over the world taking things about this broken world and using them in new ways to bring goodness out of the world. This is salvation mountain by slab City in Utah, there just landed, and I created this From the junk found lying in the deep people things that people are discarded, and he begins to lift this mountain out of the desert and says it is possible to take the bar the broken and turn it into good. This is a partnership between pale the oceans and the shoe company, Adidas, they take plastic that is floating around in the oceans and say, we’re gonna use it to manufacture tennis shoes, they’re not particularly a Christian company, but they say We’re gonna take the brokenness we encounter and we’re going to use it in new and in good ways where they are facing the plastic pollution and saying, What can we do that is different, remember I told you to log that phrase away, new heavens and new Earth.
It’s not the first time in the Bible that that phrase is used. The writer John is actually quoting a prophet called Isaiah back from a few thousand years before him, and Isaiah uses that phrase, new heavens and a new Earth, and it began… That goes on to unpack what he means by that, Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years, the one who dies at 100 will be thought… And me, a child and the one who fails to reach 100 will be considered a case, they will build houses and dwell in them, they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit, no longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others… The Isaiah was faced with this world that was constantly in the turmoil of war, people would build a house and someone would take it after people would plant vineyards and they would be destroyed or someone would steal the fruit. In Isaiah as well, he said, Imagine a world that looks different to that, and we’re invited to this Revelation 21 world one day one, they go will wipe away every tear that’s what he promised, and yet we can’t control them. We wait, we wait to see what God will do. And in this world, I would suggest, while we wait for Revelation 21, we’re invited to work for Isaiah 65, what might this world look like because of people like you and I, this Jesus story starts with our own personal change, it starts with the idea that Jesus came and died in your place.
It extends to the fact that somewhere he defeated these or powers that lurk behind the scenes, but it also includes the invitation to get involved in his story, in his… Well, to get your hands dirty to get to work.
So we’d love to invite you as a community into this thing that we’ve got coming up this month, and I got the day wrong, every service on Easter, which was impressive. It takes a lot of commitment to be that wrong in so many different ways, so we’re inviting you into this thing that we’re calling the first mile initiative, what we did is we drew a circle around South… Around 6560 and said, What would it look like if we took owning this area seriously, what would it look like if we look for ways to partner with Littleton and said, We love this area, we would love to see it change, we would love to… It become better in all the different ways that we might imagine, and so our first little furry into this is to invite our whole community on the 24th of April to come along from 2 to 60, and we have projects all around this little radius that we’re inviting you to get involved with… If you would like to know more, there is a table outside, we would love you to have a conversation with our team, if you like leading projects, we would love you to help lead a project, if you just like picking up litter, that will be great as well.
But whatever you are made to be good at, we would love to find a way to incorporate you in this, we would love to partner with our neighborhood and say that God longs for a world that once again is good.
He’s done something to change it for all time, and we would love to do the little that we can do to partner with him in doing it in this particular area. Confess the harp, embrace the dirt and get to work. God’s response to the problem of evil is not to say much about it, but is to do an awful lot about it, and then to involve his people in it as well. I’m gonna invite the worship team back up on stage and during the course of the six weeks of years to tie where we’ll be looking at these difficult questions, one of the things we’ve realized is this, You may be struggling with faith, you may be in a place of brokenness right now. Answering questions is not the thing that will help you, we would love to invite you into experiencing Jesus for yourself wherever you are in your faith, whether a long way in or just beginning, it might be that this life at the moment just looks like a mess, so every week, during this series, we’re gonna have a longer period at the end of the sermon, just feed to reflect, we just wanna create some space, we’re gonna do communion every week or at least have it available, and usually we do it as a very corporate thing, we do it as a celebration of what Jesus did together.
This is designed to be more personal, you can take it back to your chair and you can take it when you’re ready, some weeks you may choose not to take it at all, but how I’d love to set this up for you today is this is to go back to that story of Lazarus, there was this moment after Jesus weeps where he invites Lazarus out of the grave, it’s this foreshadowing of his resurrection to come, and I’m always intrigued to imagine what it would be like to Lazarus in that situation. I don’t know what death feels like, I haven’t experienced it, I don’t know what the afterlife looked like in that moment pre-Jesus death and resurrection, but I do know that somewhere, Lazarus in this moment of death, He’s a voice. Calling to him, it is the voice of God and can in the world, in the world immersing himself and it fixing its problem, and it’s this moment where this voice says to arise in your death and your brokenness in your paid a come forward. And this is more where something happens within Lazarus, and for the first time in history may be someone strides out of a grave into some kind of new life has this incredible moment, and I wonder what it might look like for each of us.
Maybe life feels like a grave to you right now. Maybe there’s so much broken us, so much heart, so much confusion, so much much pain, maybe you’re seeing it in a life of your friends and co-workers and that’s… Raising some of the same questions, What would it look like in this moment of contemplation where we’re just still before the worship team leaders for you to hear the voice of the Son of God, who knows your pain, who cares for you very deeply. What would it look like for you to hear that voice calling to you… Come on, get up. Come from, but it’s gonna be okay. Ultimately, life and faith doesn’t begin or survive because we have the answers to every cognitive question, it sent it on an experience of a God who loves us, who invites us in in our brokenness, He says, Wherever you are, come this way… I dealt with all of this stuff for you. Let’s close our eyes for a second, and as the worship team lead us, if you would like to take communion, that is there for you. As I say, you can take it back to your seat, I’m gonna ask any of the elders, elders, wives that are willing to participate, any of the watchmen, if you’re happy to come down to the front as you would like prayer if you’re lies. At that point, were you like, I love just someone to stand along side me and pray with me, then you’re welcome to come to the front and de Prado, you may wanna sit it and content, Neil and contemplate. You may want to sing, O, you want to pray, you may want to read, you may want to sit quietly and listen for the voice of the Son of God who immersed himself in the evil wealth, he doesn’t say or it doesn’t diminish your pain, doesn’t explain Him it says meter, I’ve been there and know what you’re feeling. Stand up, John conform. Standard Amy, come for. It’s gonna be okay.
Jesus from my friends. And grief and pain and suffering and sorrow and uncertainty about what is next in life, in wrestling with those internal questions, would you do what you did to last risk, but you stand and weep with them, would you call them into new life, which bring new out of the old. Thank you for your death and your resurrection that changes everything.
Thank you that you took our burdens. Thank you, you took on those evil powers behind the scenes that we don’t even know how to name sometimes, and you said… I dealt with that too.
Thank you for this in this already not yet, this waiting period, you say, the thing is coming, and there will be no more death. No more morning. No suffering.