From my May 6, 2018 sermon.
(…continued) Why do you need Jesus? Well first of all, you need Jesus because there is something wrong with you. What? I don’t know, but you do. And if you don’t think there is anything wrong with you, then there is something seriously wrong with you. If you want to know what is wrong with you, ask your spouse, kids, parents, friends, coworkers, or anyone else you know. They will tell you what’s wrong. They will probably even have a list of what is wrong with you. And the better they know you, the longer that list will be.
Think about it. Is there anyone you know that has nothing wrong with them? No. And if you are honest with yourself, you are the one who could make the longest list about yourself. Who cannot identify with what Paul says in Romans 7, “I do not understand what I do. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. But the very thing that I hate, that is what I keep doing.” Do you have any troubles and conflicts with any of the other people in your life? Is it all, always their fault? Or is there something wrong with you, too?
What is it that is wrong with you? You, like everyone else, is a slave to sin, as Paul also says in Romans 7. Sin, that old fashioned word that some people are afraid to acknowledge or even say, is the problem. We do know there is something wrong with us, and the Bible calls that sin. We have bad habits we can’t break, unhealthy patterns and ruts we are in and can’t get out of, issues with irritability, anger, lust, envy, greed, gossip, fear, worry, and dissatisfaction, to name a few. Each person will have a different list, but we all have our issues. We need Jesus because we are sinners and we make ourselves miserable. We need the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus, we need his guidance for our lives, and we need what we can learn from Jesus about gratitude and contentment and love and good will.
We also need Jesus because there is something wrong with other people. They are sinners too, and that is another reason why you can’t get along with them. It is not always all their fault, and you will not get very far in life if all you do is blame other people for all your troubles. But we all have had the experience of getting beat up or beat down by others, sometimes even by those who love us the most. And, you need Jesus because there is something wrong with your family, too. No wonder I’m so messed up, some will say, look at my parents; no wonder I am so miserable, look at how my teenage kids (or middle-age kids) are acting, and so on. Have you ever heard of ‘dysfunctional’ families? Well, that is pretty well all of them.
We are all sinners, and we all need Jesus. We need Jesus, and we need to learn from him about forgiveness of each other, about bearing each other’s burdens, and about loving people even when they are unlovable. And Jesus not only told us we should do that, he showed us how it is done.
And we need Jesus because there is something wrong with the whole world. Listening to the news is so discouraging and hopeless, isn’t it? And if anyone is going to pin all their hopes on the Republican Party, or the Democratic Party, or the United Nations, or any one leader, they will surely be disappointed. We should all know that by now. There is no ultimate hope to be found in any human being or government institution or earthly power; and not even in the church, apart from its Lord. I read on-line the other day of yet another expert, anxious to avoid the subject of personal responsibility, who said that we as individuals were not to blame, but it is all society’s fault. But what is society if not a collection of individual sinners? A much wiser expert, G. K. Chesterton, once won first place in a newspaper essay writing contest with a two-word essay. The question was, “What is wrong with the world?” Chesterton’s brief answer to that huge question was simply “I am.” The world is a mess because it is made up of seven billion sinners, and we all need Jesus.
Our sins are not only against each other, but against the God who created us, gave us this life to live and this world to live in, and told us to get along with each other; as Jesus says in John 15, “Remain in my love, obey my commands, and love each other.” Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of all those many sins of the whole world, and we need to believe in him and take hold of that forgiveness. Then we need the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us and make us able to change.
This is the kind of information someone might not think they need if everything is going well for them. And if they don’t think they need it, they might not be inclined to pay any attention. But deep down we all know that no matter how well things are going, such good fortune does not last. Accidents happen, the economy changes, loved ones break your heart, health fails, we get old, and finally death is on the horizon. Life breaks us all, and then we realize that we do need Jesus, and not only for the forgiveness of sins and for the wisdom to live well now. We also need Jesus and his promise of another life, a life beyond the brief and uncertain time that we have here. One way or another, life will break you, and then you need to know where to go. We all need Jesus, even if you don’t know it yet.
It might not look like you need Jesus, and even if you have Jesus in your life, it might not always look like that is doing any good. But the Bible is always inviting us to take the long view of things. In a hundred years from now nothing else that you have going for you right now will matter, except for this one thing—that Jesus died for you and that you believed in him.
Romans 6:16 — Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Romans 7:25 — Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Galatians 5:22-23a — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Merciful God, I confess to you now that I have sinned.
I confess the sins that no one knows and the sins that everyone knows.
I confess the sins that are a burden to me and the sins that do not bother me because I have grown used to them.
Father, forgive me, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.