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Matt. 22.37 thru 39 Who Is In Charge

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Who’s In Charge?

(Please stand)-Our sermon text today is Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (sit)

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are celebrating Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because January 22 was the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized abortion in all nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason.  Since that decision in 1973, over 45 million babies have been killed through surgical abortion in this country.  That’s around 3,600 every day or about one every 24 seconds!...  Do those numbers make you feel uncomfortable?...  They should.  On the other hand, some of you might feel uncomfortable right now for another reason.  You have been led to believe that abortion should not be talked about in church.  It’s too political.  It’s too controversial.  And you’re right…at least partially.  Abortion certainly is political and controversial.  But you are wrong to think we shouldn’t be talking about it in church.  Think about it.  God is the Creator of life, the Giver of life, the Redeemer of life, the Lord of life.  Abortion, that which destroys God’s gift of life, the work of His hands, is an insult to Him. 

The life that we have is a gift from God. He is the creator of human life and man has never been able to duplicate this creation. Try as we might we need the “breath of life” from God to replicate this miracle. We can take life and make other life from it but we cannot manufacture life. It is His breath and His breath alone that begins life. We see this in the Old Testament when He breaths the “breath of life” into Adam and then countless other times when He begins life with His breath. It is clearly His breath that gives us the gift of life and it is not of man. He is the giver of life…not man.

It is also important for us to realize that this life is a gift that God values greatly. He has spoken of this value in various ways. For instance, He values His human creations so much that He has made us in His image and likeness! He has also spoken against ending life and how it is clearly wrong through His commandment…“Thou shalt not murder!” He plainly articulates this value throughout His word and makes His law apparent in Genesis, that “whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made man.”

Who are we to even consider extinguishing the creator’s creation? We have stood by as some have been determined incomplete in their anatomy in the womb, and it has been “chosen” to terminate this life. These defects are the result of a sinful and broken world, yet, He has told us He has a plan for all… No matter how flawed we may think a life is, we have no right to kill His created being and end His plan for them outside of His law. We humans have distorted His creations because of the sin of the world, yet they are still given His breath and therefore hold His value.  How can we possibly presume to know the art of our God who is all powerful and omniscient? How can we act as if we are the all knowing critic and His art is flawed! We must respect our creator and His creation no matter whether we think that it is flawed…loosing its wind…or just inconvenient right now…

In the end it is Christ and His act on the cross that gives value to each individual life. He gives every life value because He paid for each life with His blood. This then gives value and purpose to all the people of the earth, in that He died for all so that they might come to Him. We limit the power of God if we say He can work and accomplish things only in people who are young and healthy and “functioning.”  He’s God!  He can work in the life of the disfigured at birth, chronically ill, or terminally ill.  Christ isn’t exalted because of what we do.  He is exalted because of what He does in us!

Remember the man born blind?  What a tragic thing this must have appeared to be to friends and family.  But this man was born blind that the works of God might be displayed in him.  He was born blind that Christ might be exalted in him.  He wasn’t aware of it.  Friends and family were not aware of it, but this man’s life had purpose and meaning…  You may not be aware of how God is at work in your life, or in the life of the severely ill or disabled.  But through faith in His abiding presence, you can be assured He is.  What an insult to Jesus to want to kill those through whom He is still at work.

Isn’t Christ a perfect example of the indignation in man?  In the way that the people could not control or tame Him…and so they destroyed Him? They did not understand His miracles, so they wanted to continue to have it their way and killed Him! Doesn’t this issue come down to submission to God and His authority in our lives? Aren’t we called to love Him with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind. That’s total...  When we see trouble in the Bible, it is when God’s people don’t obey...even more, don’t know Him. This is what the whole book of Isaiah is about. The people are constantly being told that they have walked away from God and “know Him not.” This creates quite a lot of problems for the people. They are in fact destined for a world of hurt...defeat by the sword, capture, and captivity as slaves. Well I would propose that our world today doesn’t know God either.  This world has walked away from Him and has no intention of submitting to Him for any reason. We, as Christians, find ourselves slipping away from Him too…through our acceptance of some of the ways the world around us disobeys Him. I don’t think I need to give many examples of this disobedience in our society today. But since it’s Life Sunday abortion would be a good example.  There is an abortion performed every 24 seconds! I didn’t know that until I wrote this sermon…but that astounds me. A baby is killed every 24 seconds! This is the awful truth that has to be ingested to really comprehend how far we have walked away from God…respecting His creation…and submitting to His law.

We show our disrespect to Him when we disrespect His creation. This is really at the heart of the issue. Abortion and the other ways we are killing people in our society are only symptoms of the deeper problem. Most certainly a heinous and tragic symptom…but that is how it is when we walk away from God. We manifest this disrespect in many ways in all of our lives. It is a question of who’s in charge.  We want to be the ones in charge and we want to play God and that is how much of the sin of the world develops. In the case of abortion, we have no idea how this breath ignites life. We can’t recreate it…yet there it is. We can’t say it doesn’t have value, because we don’t even understand how it happens. How can we throw away something that is miraculous by definition and can only be regarded as priceless because of our inability to put a price tag on it? We don’t understand how it works, and that’s just it...we want control over it because we can’t figure it out. It’s the old “God complex” thing that drives us to continue to try to tame life and control it? Yet, life is not something we can box up nor train to do what we want.  Therefore, we do the only thing we are capable of...we destroy it in any way we can. This is how our “thought sin,” to desire to be in control, manifests itself as a treacherous and tragic mortal sin. It’s a slippery slope!

Well, we could get political here and call for you to vote against anyone that accepts abortion in any way, shape, or form. And believe me there are a lot of ways that have been devised to get to one death every 24 seconds since Roe v. Wade was passed. But, I would like to get back to our understanding of the Word of God and how this applies to us. We are letting this happen around us…yes. And many of us are not even aware of what we are accepting in the different realms of the life issues of the day. There is death all around us. Through abortion, partial birth abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, even invitro fertilization. God’s human creations, that have His breath of life within them, are snuffed out in more and more ways each day…  Do we see the line anymore…or do we know God.  He has told us how He gives life, He has told us how he values life, and He has told us…it is against His law to take that life away from another. But…do we submit to His law in all that we do? The question is, who is in charge? …And, who are we standing up for?  When God calls us to obey the second part of the text have we thought about who our neighbor is? Yes, that’s right; our neighbors are those that are in need of our love.  Our neighbor is the one that doesn’t have a chance without us.  We must stand up for the unborn, the “non-functioning,” and the “irrelevant.”  We must stand up for God in our lives!…And submit and obey.  This can only be done with His help.

There is the good news in this though. He is a merciful and gracious God. His people have walked away from Him before and He was merciful to them. He sent a savior even for those that did not know Him. We, who might have even been a party, in some way, to the ending of a life, can be assured that there is forgiveness from Him that created that life. This artist has endured much abuse and criticism but has been able to forgive even those that disrespected His creation. We can rest assured that He has taken those lives that were ended in abortion into His arms and is holding them with Him right now. We can know that those little babies that are being executed every 24 seconds are in His care. He is a gracious God and has told us of His forgiveness throughout His word. For those of us that have not submitted to His authority in our lives, He has forgiveness for us. For those of us that have not stood up for the unborn in times when it might have been uncomfortable…there is forgiveness. We are able to come to His altar and call out His name in repentance and we are able to leave our sin at His feet. We can walk away cleansed of any blood on our hands because He has washed them clean with His blood. This is the forgiving Savior and Redeemer that we can love for His action on our behalf. This is the one that we can submit to because of His obedience to the Father in His suffering and dying for us. This is our God...the God that gives us, even our own life through His breath. We celebrate and worship Him because we have a God that we can rejoice in. Because only He can give us a peace in times of death and mayhem and only He can give us eternal life. No matter what, we know that Christ is at work and that He will be exalted.  And so we pray, “Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes.  Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.   In life, in death, O Lord.  Abide with me.”  Amen

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