Sermon Series: Doormat Christianity - We struggle with feeling like others are walking all over us as Christians
There is a great scene in the first Spider Man movie, where Peter Parker is first grappling with obtaining his powers.
He is in the cafeteria and ends up enraging the school bully.
The bully ends up trying to fight Peter, but Peter ends up knocking the snot out of the guy.
There is something that resonates with us when we see depictions of an underdog taking out those who oppress and bully and take advantage.
We have all been underdogs at some point.
We have all been oppressed and bullied and taken advantage of.
Have you been treated unfairly by an employer?
Is your family irritated over your decisions and priorities?
Do you have coworkers who make comments in an attempt to offend you?
Do others hold you to a hire standard than they hold themselves?
Do people take advantage of you because you are nice or generous?
Does it feel like our culture is growing increasingly hostile to the Christian faith?
In other words, do you ever feel like a human doormat?
Do you feel like people are always trying to walk all over you?
I think if we were honest, we all wish we could be bitten by a radio active spider and be able to beat up our bullies.
How are we supposed to respond to the people who walk all over us?
What can be done to free ourselves from those who continue offend and malign us?
Over the next several weeks, we are going to be in a new series called Doormat Christianity, where we are going to look out how to live in a world where we are treated like doormats.
But before we can talk about how we should respond to those who take advantage of us, we need to look at what God has done to deal with those who oppress, bully, and malign others.
What is God’s fix for a world hell bent on defeating us?
To answer that we must go back to the beginning.
How to Crush the Serpent’s Head
In the beginning, God created a beautiful paradise for his people to live in.
He gave them access to everything they could ever dream with only one small restriction: don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden.
A figure appears, the very first oppressor, whom the narrator identifies as “The Serpent.”
He comes along and tempts the first woman, along with her husband, by telling them that God is holding out on them.
So together they eat of the fruit of the tree.
God shows up and calls them out.
He asks the man why he ate the fruit.
He blames the woman God gave him.
God asks the woman why she ate.
She blames the Serpent for tempting her.
God then turns to a series of curses on the human couple for their disobedience, the fruit of which explains the broken world that we now find ourselves in.
But before he pronounces any judgment on the two humans, God offers a strange promise of hope, that comes in the form of a curse.
Let’s listen in.
God promises a future of humiliation for the Serpent.
It is cursed below the rest of creation, and will eat dust, a phrase pointing to its filthy nature.
How will this defeat happen?
Well, first there will be a war.
There will be a constant fight between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the Serpent.
Those who are identified with God will be at war with those who are identified with the Serpent.
There will also be a final decisive blow given to the Serpent.
There will be one particular offspring of this woman who will come and crush the head of the Serpent.
But there is more.
In the process of defeating the Serpent, the offspring of the woman will be bitten in the heel.
The picture is of this man coming and raising his foot to stomp on the head of the snake, but before his foot comes down, the serpent strikes, sinking its fangs into his heel.
He then drives the heel, with the serpent head still attached into the earth.
So God promises to defeat this Serpent, though at the cost of the offspring bringing the victory.
Crushed for our iniquities
Let’s fast forward in the story to the book of Isaiah, where God’s people have continually failed to uphold the stipulations that God has given them, just like their first parents in the garden.
Throughout the story potential offspring candidates have come and gone, whatever promise they have shown being drowned out by their own personal failures.
In light of all of these failures, Isaiah renews the hope of this coming offspring who will finally give victory to God’s people, a figure he identifies as the Servant of the Lord.
God promises that this Servant will be an exalted and victorious figure.
But the way in which his exaltation comes is highly unexpected.
This is not the description we would expect of an exalted figure.
His form would be marred beyond recognition.
He would not look impressive or beautiful.
He would be acquainted with grief and sorrow.
He would be despised by others.
Even so, he would bring victory to God’s people.
He would carry the sins and the effects of those sin of his people
He would be punished, but it would bring peace
Yet all of this anguish and sorrow is by God’s design.
God has sent him to this long defeat.
For what purpose?
To make an offering for the guilt of his offspring (God’s people, the offspring of the woman)
He will make his people righteous and deal finally with the effects of sin introduced by the Serpent.
As a result of this long defeat, God will consider the Servant victorious.
He is viewed as a conqueror, even though he appears like one who has been conquered.
This is the offspring who defeats the Serpent at the cost of his own defeat.
Of course, we know who this Servant is, this offspring of the woman.
It is Jesus.
Jesus is the suffering servant who bears the sins of his people.
Jesus is the one who crushes the head of the viper.
How does he do it?
By being bitten on the heel: dying on the cross.
Listen to the book of Hebrews:
Through Death he destroyed Death
Jesus became a human being and experienced the kinds of things human beings experience, including death.
All of our lives we anticipate our impending death.
It enslaves us.
There is nothing we can do to escape its grasp.
Death comes for us all.
Death comes as a result of our sin.
And the devil uses this against us.
He accuses God’s people of their sin and reminds us of our death sentence.
When Christ died for our sins he de-fanged the devil.
His chief weapon against us was blunted.
Christ defeated death by dying.
And death could not hold him.
Christ vanquished death for us by his death for us.
The Triumph of the Cross
Paul says that God made us alive with Christ when we were dead in our sins.
He canceled our record of debt.