This week Drew has been reflecting on Sunday's 6pm sermon from Luke 18:15-30.
You can't earn your way in... It is impossible with man but possible with God. I think that's a decent summary of Sunday night's sermon. Whilst reflecting the sermon this week, I wonder if there are 3 different 'complacent' traps that we could be in danger of falling into.
1. Not really listening... I also think it's fair to say that for most of us what we heard on Sunday isn't a new idea. It's the heart of the gospel, isn't it? I reckon that if you were to ask any regular at the 6pm to explain the gospel, the concept of receiving undeserved grace would make it in there in some shape or form. So do we really need to hear it again? Clearly God thinks so!
My wife heard a helpful thing on Sunday night- someone who had already realised ahead of the sermon that she might be tempted to think in this way about the passage. So, she deliberately decided to make it her prayer that God would make this truth fresh for her as she listened. Be that a rebuke or an encouragement or just simply to feel it more sharply.
2. Not receiving like a child... So maybe that's what we all need to do with Sunday's sermon. It's not necessarily a new truth, but perhaps that's where we're in danger of falling down. There's a real complacent attitude like ‘I already know this stuff...' in my heart anyway. And what a damaging thing it would be if I stopped there and failed to see just how outrageous a truth this is. Because it is so shocking, isn't it!? Luke here is defining for us what it means to be a Christian- somebody who is in the Kingdom. It is intended to be a bit of a shock to the system.
We need to realise afresh the shock of the gospel. Nobody is good enough to get into the Kingdom on their own merit. Not even this young ruler, the very best of men. If we understand and feel the shock rightly, we'll cry out with the crowd in Luke 18:26 ‘Then who can be saved?!' As saved people it's surely at that point we'll be left with no other option but to respond with arms wide open. It is the attitude of a child, ready to receive the gift, arms wide open, simply saying ‘Thank you, Jesus.'
3. Grumbling about what we've given up... Remembering what our response should be, only makes the disciples' reaction in Luke 18:28 feel all the more tragic. "See, we have left our homes and followed you." We do this too, don't we?! We might not say it as brazenly as the disciples but if we're not careful it's oh so easy to feel we're owed something by Jesus. We can end up fostering feelings of pride or bitterness about the things we've sacrificed to follow him. I love Jesus' response to this though: "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life." Luke 18:29-30
So let's be thankful. Let's not be bitter about what we don't have or what we've given up to follow Jesus. Let's be thankful for the blessings we're showered with through being part of a loving church family and ultimately thankful for complete confidence in our salvation. Confident as a Kingdom child now, and confident in the kingdom to come!
Thank you, Jesus!