HT 8am 24th July 2016: Hosea 11.1-11, Colossians 3.1-11, Luke 12.13-21
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. You may have heard this quote before and in this time of unnerving flux and change, it is a wonder whether lessons have been learned from the past at all. Yet this was Pauls message to the people of Corinth. Paul, by alluding to the time of exodus was warning the people of becoming too complacent in their faith by relying on their spiritual experiences and adherence to the sacraments. They boasted that they were safe from God’s destruction by relying on God-given means of grace and experience rather than on God himself. In fact, they had become so confident that the Corinthians openly boasted about their exclusive, high spiritual position. Paul warned them against this by recalling how in Exodus, the people of Israel had fallen away from the faith despite receiving and enjoying many repeated blessings from the Lord. These blessings included protection, guidance, sustenance, and forgiveness. Yet these God-given means of grace did not prevent them from compromising their faith and failing to acknowledge God as their sovereign. The result of which was their destruction.
Boasting about good we are at things is generally frowned upon in our culture. We prefer to shun the limelight and privately go about our business. But to what point does this tip our faith in God to complacency and assumption that our relationship with God is doing ok? The risk to faith is that our religion becomes deeply private and churches become inward looking. Faith becomes something that surfaces on a Sunday but remains hidden away from the rest of the week. This can result in living a fractured life. Life becomes compartmentalised between work, home, family, clubs, and church. If we do not see God as being part of the whole of our lives and activities, then sinful idols can creep in. We begin to justify some things are ok when they in fact compromise the truth of Christ. So we forget we are baptized into Christ in whom we have pledged allegiance to by not working out the practical implications of that allegiance. For example, we may join a group which although appears to do good works of charity but requires imitation of the founder or being in order to achieve the life expected by the group. The bible states we cannot serve two masters. By being divided in allegiance evil can get a foot hold and the steps away from faith begin. The world has many principalities and powers that would dearly like to take our allegiance to Christ away and they do so in the subtlest of ways.
This past week I listened to someone who found great comfort in going to mediums and spiritualists meetings. She missed her Grandfather terribly and enjoyed hearing from him. She said it was true because only her grandfather knew the things the medium talked about. This was a classic example of a life trapped by subtle forces. Such evil forces will tell one truth with the purpose of blinding the person to the hundreds of false lies being fed to them.
Pauls answer for protecting ourselves from these forces is by reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness, that we have fellowship with Him through being partakers of Christ’s death and resurrection in the act of holy communion. During Holy communion we are together nourished by Christ’s own personal life and we become one with God. Yes, we are vulnerable but by relying only on God we can endure all that life throws at us, all the temptations of the world. There will be trials and tests of faith, for what is faith if it isn’t taken out of the box and given a good shake up?! Yet Paul explains that God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond our endurance. God is not some vindictive dictator waiting for us to slip up so that he can pounce with a punishment. God is loving, and with abundant blessings to shower upon His followers. This is God’s preferred and promised future for our local church. To be blessed and be a blessing to the community around us. Only through attending to our gifts within a spiritual journey centred on God’s plan for us can we then be beacons of hope in this fractured world.