From our Second Reading, from 2 Timothy, just one phrase: “I know the one in whom I have put my trust…” Thus far our text.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
In this final sermon in my little 3-week series, I’d like to wrap up our ‘discussion’ by giving consideration as to why we might do well to trust the answers we have arrived at. In case you haven’t been here, or in case you might have forgotten what we were talking about (I can’t imagine that ever happening!), we have been giving consideration to these related questions: “Am I living the good life?” and/or “Is there more to life than this?” 
The conclusion that I have encouraged us to reach together is that the “good life” is a life lived most in line with what we were created to be. Is anyone willing to describe what that looks like, what a life lived in line with how God created us to live looks like? (Outwardly focused… living in loving service of God and others. It would look just like Jesus… without the miracles.)
That sounds like a nice, right answer. At least, I hope it sounds right to you. But we have a few very loud and powerful influences which seek to convince us that that is not true, that the way to a good and meaningful life is found on a different path. One of those loud and powerful voices comes from within… although it wasn’t there in the very beginning. Anyone willing to hazard a guess as to what I am referring to? (Sin… encurvatus en se… curved in on self.) 
That internal voice comes from—and is continually fueled by—a couple of very loud external forces, two powers that Luther wrote about as combining with sin to form the “terrible trio” of enemies that seek to push us off course… Seek to kill us, really, and to destroy the world. Bonus points for anyone who can tell me what Luther called those forces. Hint: for those of us who had to memorize any of the Small Catechism, we had to learn this. (the devil and the world… which combine with our sinful self to form the terrible trio of mortal enemies)
HOWEVER… we have on our side a power that has overcome all three enemies. That is the power of…? (grace). Grace is that infinitely powerful and beautiful gift from God that changes everything. One last bit of review: grace is a change agent that changes everything. First and foremost, it changes us from what to what… from __________ of God to __________ of God? (“enemies” to “children/friends”)
But grace doesn’t stop there. Grace seeks to continuously transform us from self-serving, sin-dominated, lost and condemned creatures into God-seeking, others-serving, mission-focused followers of Jesus. Those of us who share a Lutheran theological perspective believe this transformation begins when…? (baptism) and ends when…? (eternal life) 
Living the best and most meaningful life possible is found in this living in grace, living as children of God, becoming more and more fully what we already are: children ofF God who are led and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God to lead lives of loving service. That’s the more that there is to living the good life.
So, the big question for today is this: do we really believe and trust this is truth? It’s one thing to sit in church and nod our heads in agreement. It's another thing to have it follow us out the door and change our life. This profound truth should be mind-and-life altering.
In the Alpha Bible Study video that inspired this sermon series, there is a brief testimony shared by Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project (considered to be one of the greatest scientific achievements of our times… and that’s saying something!). Dr. Collins—like so many others who grew up without a faith birthed and nurtured in his home—believed that Christian faith was an anti-intellectual stance based predominantly on myth and superstition. But in a series of events he was challenged to rethink his perspective, and was led to faith. 
One of the things that led to Dr. Collins’ conversion to the Christian faith was the reading of C.S. Lewis' great work called Mere Christianity. Lewis wrote: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Lewis himself was an Oxford scholar of very high intelligence who was led to faith during his adult years, and who came to see there is a great deal of rational evidence that the God revealed in the Bible in truth existed. Both Lewis and Collins concluded there is tremendous historical evidence for the life, teachings, miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who arrogantly proclaim that believing in God is clearly and utterly foolish are not nearly as smart as they might think. 
All of that being said, merely knowing and believing the facts about God is not enough. We can know a lot of facts about someone without having a relationship with them. Please listen carefully again to these incredibly important words of St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. 
There is so much there… but it all starts with relationship. Reconciliation is the restoration of relationship, which our incredibly loving Father has brought about through the mission of His Son, Jesus. There’s grace again, doing its first and foremost work: God no longer counts our trespasses against us. As a result, we not only know about the existence of God, but have an intimate personal and collective relationship with Him through Christ, a relationship the Holy Spirit of God has not only established, but stands ever ready to strengthen and deepen! We are children of God. We need to grow more and more into what we already are!
Hear that again: We need to grow more and more into what we already are! Grace changes everything! “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” In Christ, we’ve been restored in our relationship with God AND to our original, created design. Our loving and serving relationship with God is to extend more and more fully into loving and serving relationships with others. 
Why do I say that so often? Because it is an incredibly important thing to hear and believe, and the voices of the “terrible trio” are determined to drown out that message. But the One who is in us is greater than the one who is living in the world, and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, we can hear and follow God’s calling to serve as ambassadors of reconciliation as we take up the basin and the towel and follow the example of Jesus as servants! Amen.

   November 2018   
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