GOOD NEWS IN THE MIDST OF BAD NEWS
How can we proclaim the good news when it seems like we are so often surrounded by the misery and ruin of life?
- Its unlikely weve heard many sermons from this book.
- We are not even sure about the name. Is this a type of floor covering?
- Like those late night infomercials for hungry children, we turn away because we are looking for something much lighter and happier to cure our 3 am depression.
- This book is not familiar to us because it isnt a happy book of devotionals
- It isnt a book of positive affirmations or seven steps to super success
- The lamentations are the voice of one who stands in the midst of ruin
- The City of David, Gods city Jerusalem, is fallen and ruined. The citizens are suffering
- The once great city is like a grieving widow who has lost her future
- Her treasures are gone
- Her children are starving, the children die of thirst described quite graphically
Why is it like this? It isnt supposed to be like this is it?
- The answer surprises us (maybe another reason we avoid this text): The LORD did it!
- He allowed her enemies to invade
- He rejected his sanctuary
- He has removed her leaders
- He has shamed Jerusalem before other nations
- Is God supposed to be like this?
Why did God do this? Does he really do it or is it just circumstances?
- There are times when bad things happen to good people and it isnt fair to attribute that to the LORD
- We may rightly ask why but we cannot always hold God responsible
- But in the case of Jerusalem here, God was acting out of justice (Lamentations 4) Not a petty anger or retribution, but divine justice
- 4:13 The prophets and priests shed the blood of innocents. Jerusalem sinned.
- God acted in justice because of the innocents
Gods Justice is not a principle that tames God and makes him play fair.
- This is a serious thing: We cannot dress up in our Sunday finery and talk about fair is fair
- It isnt an academic or theological dilemma that we discuss without some relationship to the problem
- It isnt about how God treats others It is about God making us walk righteously
- We speak of our expectations of God what about his expectations of us?
The LORD has torn down the stronghold of Jerusalem and humiliated her kings and priests because of his justice (his righteousness and holiness)
- A God without justice is not a good God. Such a God ignores the cries of the innocent and the oppressed. He does not demand righteousness for those who are wronged
- Such a God is not fair and trustworthy
But what about the one who stands in the midst of the ruins caused by Gods wrath? Is Gods justice and wrath the last word? (See 3:19-36)
- The song: The Steadfast Love of the Lord
- God is just but also merciful and loving He does not have to switch of mercy to be just
- We tend to run in one extreme or another. God is balanced
- His compassion does not end. And so we are not consumed [See 3:32-33 Not willingly]
- Every morning is a new opportunity to experience Gods faithfulness
- Even if weve sinned
- Even if we are suffering
- Even if we are among ruin
If the voice of Lamentations can say this about Gods love in the midst of ruin, how much more can we say it in the shadow of the cross?
- The cross is a statement of Gods justice
- It shouts loudly and plainly against the injustices in this world for the cross is the ultimate injustice.
- God puts our unrighteousness on display that we in our arrogance and self-righteousness would create a system that would crucify the innocent one for the sake of our own interests.
- The cross rouses us from our illusions that everything is okay. It stands in the way of our attempts to whitewash the ruin that sin makes of our lives and our world
- The cross is the ultimate antidote to the poison of spin control and euphemisms.
- Are we opposed to a cross because it doesnt fit our idea of a nicely groomed Sunday morning?
Our response to the cross should be Lamentations 3:39-40
- Sin: The cross calls us to repent that is, to change
- Sin is actually growth: The moment we can name it, the healing begins
- The worst things are not the last things in Christ
- The worst things will end one day, but the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases
True happiness comes to us when we look to the cross and in that story (death, burial, resurrection) we encounter the justice, love, and mercy of God.
- That we could experience healing even as we feel the pain of sin is good news
- That Gods love and mercy wins out is good news (it is good and it is news)
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 18 July 2010
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