I felt the nudged to publish my sermon from this morning. So here it is:
Fifty young people gunned down in Orlando just because they have a different idea about sexuality than a lone gunman? Where is God? A young bright mother, campaigner and MP gunned down in a Yorkshire village because she has different ideas to a lone gunman? Where is God? As we stand here this week (12th-19th June 2016 ) and look at the headlines in our papers and on our television, increasingly it seems it is not unreasonable to ask where is God in our world today. Is God impotent, powerless? Where is the God of power we so often sing about.
I do wonder if he appears to be powerless in our society today because that is what we have made Him. God so often chooses to use His followers to bring answers to prayer, rather than intervene directly, and yet in our culture we seem to have retreated into our churches and apologised for believing in a powerful God. I am not pointing the finger, I find this as challenging as the next person. I am as guilty as the next man or woman who calls themselves a Christian, of making our God powerless. I am apologetic about our God, I all to often take the politically correct route of God works for me, but I don’t want to bother you with Him. There is a children’s song my children use to sing by Doug Horley. The words go like this.
Have we made our God too small, too small?
Have we made our God too small?
He made the heavens and earth and He reigns on high
Yet He’s got the time for you and I
See the glory of God light up the sky
As the clouds proclaim He reigns on high
See the huge expanse of the oceans wide
And a billion stars that grace the sky
I am awed by the power
Awed by the marks of God all around me
Yet I’m humbled everyday by my unbelieving ways
I really, really want it to change.
So my question today is have we made our God too small? Jesus meek and mild has been doing the rounds in our churches for many a year, and yet I don’t see Jesus meek and mild in the Bible I read. I see Jesus caring I see Jesus full of compassion and love for His people, However I also see Jesus strong, Jesus powerful, I see Jesus our Leader. A Leader and Saviour that any woman or man would be proud to follow, proud to shout about from the rooftops. It might not be our English way, but it seems our English way has ended us here, where we are today. We look at Luke’s gospel and we see demons quake at the idea that the Son of God is amongst them.
‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’
Jesus does not hesitate, He cast the demon out of the man, and heals him. Whether we choose to believe in literal demons, or whether we choose to believe it was mental illness the result is the same. Jesus heals the man because He had the power to do so, and He still does today. We should not mistake compassion for God’s people with being meek and mild. When we pray for change to come to this nation, and we should pray for change to come to this nation, we pray with the power of the God who created the universe behind us. If we pray for the men and women of violence in our world, then what pain and devastation can be avoided? If we pray for the men and women of violence to be transformed by the healing power of Jesus, how could this world change? Have we made our God too small by not speaking of Him and his power to heal? If we accept the powerful God into our lives then we can expect transformation in our lives, and then transformation in our country, and then transformation in our world.
The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with [Jesus]; but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Again in our Gospel we so often see transformation moves to declaration. The man who had been healed could not help himself, he was not English, he declared his faith to those around him. And I have no doubt that those around believed. How could they not? The transformation was so dramatic. I wonder how transformed we have allowed our lives to become? I think I have made God so small that I have boxed Him up. I bring Him out in Church and set Him up as I would the candles, and then when I leave I put him away. I wonder if I am alone in that? The demons in our lives, must laugh at the way we treat the Creator of the universe, as though he has no power. Have we made our God so small that we dare not breathe His name in public? Have we made our God so small that we dare not allow transformation in our lives, or speak of that transformation to others?
If God is the same God today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow then it is clear God is not impotent. It is clear He is not powerless? It is clear He is not small. I want you to know that is the truth. God is God, despite what we see around us. I want you to know that God is powerful, despite what we might see at this moment. I want you to know that He wins. There may be evil on our screens, there may be evil in our papers, but there is an answer, and that is the God you know, the Jesus you read about in your Bible.
But we have a part to play. That part is to stop talking about the Creator of the universe like He is some slightly embarrassing relative. And I am sorry for the times that I have done that. I believe that God is calling to His people, to acknowledge that He is God, to be transformed in our lives and to declare that He is the God who transformed us to the world, to His people. What people?
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
God is greedy, He wants all the world’s people to return to Him. So we had better get busy, and see the transformation of this world from evil to God.