Epiphany 6: “God’s Works”
February 16th, 2020 – 1 Corinthians 3:7
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Wowee!! Were you listening to God’s Words for us this morning? Anything strike you a little differently? Maybe Moses’ last words in Deuteronomy pleading with the Israelites to choose life and obey God rather than listening to anybody else and suffering the fair consequences of death and evil for rejecting their creator?
Or the words of Paul in our Epistle saying that we are spiritual infants and are not ready for solid food. Why aren’t we ready for solid food? Because there is still jealousy and strife among us. We are spiritually weak, but we still have a lot of work to do for God.
Or the Gospel reading; (sigh) this Gospel reading is brutal. This is Jesus, this is God Himself, taking the Law and dialling it up to a thousand. Do you think you’re only a murderer if you end somebody’s life? Nah, you’re a murderer by hating someone or having any kind of division between your brother. Do you think you’re not an adulterer? Just looking at someone longingly who’s not your spouse makes you an adulterer (and you’re better off gouging out your eye than be damned by sinning like this)
All of these readings are heavy. We are supposed to choose life. We are supposed to do God’s work of sowing seeds of His Word. We are supposed to be perfect by not hating, or lusting, or swearing by anything. We are supposed to be like God.
We just had Valentines’ Day a couple of days ago. Did any of you feel that you had to show your love in a special way? Did you feel pressured to do something even if you did not have someone special in your life? Did you feel pressure to love somebody (which is a good thing) but didn’t? Valentine’s Day is just one day among many where we can show love to someone special, (but it certainly shouldn’t be the only day). We are like God when we show love to one another constantly. We are like God when we choose life and obey God, and have no divisions, and do not hate one another or lust after people who are not ours who God has not joined us together with in marriage.
God is perfect. God loves perfectly and everything He does is done the best way it can be done. So, be like God. Choose life, love God perfectly, stop having divisions and spread the perfect Word of God. Never hate someone and never lust after someone who is not yours. Why? Because if you do you are damned. Because if you do any of these things, the fair punishment you have earned is eternity suffering in hell. The unlove you have, the imperfection, is no good. It must be punished. There is no separating the imperfection from the person. Any unlove in your heart must be fairly punished by eternity in hell with no hope of relief.
Do you do any of these things? Are you a sinner? (Join the club: we’re called Christians. We meet on Sundays). How can someone who does all this evil and is evil, deserving eternity in hell, do anything right? How can we do anything good?
To help answer that question let me direct your attention to a new piece of artwork we have in the entryway to Our Saviour. Have you noticed it? Right above the TV to the left when you walk in is a wooden wood-burned sign done by our very own Chairman, Dean. It is a quote from Martin Luther which reads “It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his good works unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his, but God’s.”
That suffering and evil the quote talks about? That is the realization of how evil you and I truly are. That is the realization we have when we read God’s word as we have in our readings this morning. We read and realize we suffer justly for our evil. We suffer by our bodies breaking down and needing to die. Death is a punishment. Death is fair for the evil we do – even when we are trying to do the right thing. It is awful to think about. It is something we want to ignore. But when we listen to God and don’t ignore Him, we hear we are sinners through and through.
So how can we do “good works” which God gives us to do? How can we love each other? How can we love God? As the quote points out to us, it is not our own works that are good, but the works which God does through us. The works we do, the love we share, the very life we live, is all from God.
When we look at the TV screen below this new sign and see the activity in the church, the baptisms, the dinners, the new items dedicated to the sanctuary, the unity that exists between us, all of it, we ought not to see the good works that we are doing as a parish.
We aught to look and see the truth. We aught to see the good works that God is working among us. He is doing good works among us by bringing us together in His name so we can have unity, love, and dedication to God – all because of His dedication to us.
Our epistle lesson for this morning puts this all a little differently. It says “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
God Like Us
It is God who we aught to worship and remember. It is God who we ought to thank for our very lives and anything which is good and loving we are able to do by His power. Even if we justly suffered death and eternal punishment for not being like God, we would still need to thank God for anything good that happens to us.
Thanks be to our good and loving God who does not leave us striving to be like Him, but who came to be like us in Jesus. Jesus came to be like us and took our fair punishment so that He can forgive us for our evil. Your evil has been forgiven in Jesus Christ. Your works can be called good because of the work God has done in Jesus. God has forgiven your evil and made you like Himself. None of this is your work. It is all Him at work in you.
We thank and praise our Good and loving God who has loved us first – and it is through His works, God’s Works, not our own, that we have life after death – life in paradise.