May 22nd, Jesus as Savior, with Rev. Phil Brown
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May 22nd: Jesus as Savior, with Rev. Phil Brown. – powered by Happy Scribe
Our scripture today comes from two books of the New Testament. I hope you’re ready because you get two New Testament books. The first one comes from the Gospel of Luke. And we usually hear this during Christmas time or that time right before Christmas. So Merry Christmas. This comes from Luke ten through eleven. And the angel said, don’t be afraid. Look, I bring good news to you. Wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David City. He is Christ the Lord. And our second reading today comes from the book of Ephesians, chapter two, and a bunch of different verses from there. We’re going to start at verse eight.
You are saved by God’s Grace because of your faith.
This Salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possess. It is not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. And then down to verse 17, when he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and those who were near. We both have access to the Father through Christ by the one spirit. So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people. And you belong to God’s household. As God’s household. You are built on the foundation of the Apostles and the prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God for what it is and what it gives us and how it nourishes us every single time we open the scriptures.
My friends, I am so glad to be with you. I am a new transplant to Bend, but not to mountains, so I know the mountains. I grew up in the mountains of Colorado and had a little sojourn moment in the south in Atlanta for a few years of my life. And I picked up a few phrases called y’all, and I’m so happy to see you and bless their heart and all those things that we get to say in the south. So if it comes out while I’m preaching, we can translate, I guess, raise your hand and we can translate what those phrases mean. But today I am just glad to be with you. Even though they gave me the hardest one of this series to do. Now, I know Callie said, hey, Phil, can you preach on the 22nd for us? And I said, sure. And like the novice guest preacher that I am, I didn’t even ask what we were going to be talking about. And she said, oh, you get this one. It’s Jesus as savior. Now, I mentioned I’m from the south, and this is a loaded question. In the south, they used to ask the question, when were you saved?
Now, you might have heard that question before, or maybe it’s something that gets asked around here. Our other brothers and sisters in Christ and different threads of Christianity tend to ask that question more about some specific moment in your life when you said some magic words and then you are saved. And that might be part of your history and part of who you are as reformed Christians or as people in the Presbyterian kind of strand of faith. We kind of have a different notion of what saved means because we answer that question, when were you saved? A little differently. We say, oh, it was about 2000 years ago by this guy named Jesus. And we’ve been working on it ever since because our Salvation comes from Jesus in the past, and it continues to happen until sometime that’s coming. We called the already and not yet. And we’re living in this kind of middle ground space of we see glimpses of what Salvation is, but we know we haven’t quite gotten the full brunt of it yet. And so we live in this tense place where we try to define who gets saved and who doesn’t get saved and who’s in and who’s out.
And it becomes this really judgy kind of word, Salvation does. And we don’t like that. Well, I don’t like that, and I hope you don’t like that, and I hope it kind of sits a little uncomfortably with you because it does with me as well. And so today and I think the series inspiration writer for this series that we’re working on here about Jesus, Diana Butler asked what she says is, I’ve got some problems with just thinking about Jesus in that way. And so we’re going to pause and take a step back. And for some of you, this might be a little bit uncomfortable to talk about Jesus as save you in a different way, but hang with me because I think we’re going to get there. Okay. But first, let’s talk about my yoga camping experience. I know me doing yoga outside of a camper. It was just this weekend or last weekend, and I was there and it was like it was duskish. The kids had just gone to bed, and my wife was reading a book and the campfire was on. And I said, you know, what I’m going to do right now when you’re on vacation is you are inspired to do exercise that you don’t usually do.
I decided to do some yoga by the campfire to really center my soul. And I was doing yoga and I was doing my downward dog and my face was towards the ground on the mat. And I hear this noise that is one of the most infuriating noises that I know to my ear. It’s just this really slight noise. And they go and it’s really high pitched. And some of you might be, like, shifting a little bit in your seat because you know exactly what that noise is. Well, it’s a mosquito. It was the first one of the year that I had been in proximity with that we had met together. And I’d had a little, like, hooded sweatshirt on while I was doing this. And I pulled my hood up and I scrunched the strings on the hood so all I could get was my eyeballs coming out, and I was doing my yoga in my hood with that and trying to listen and do all that. And my wife goes, Phil, what are you doing? And I said, the mosquitoes are out. They’re here. And I said, Honey, you don’t know how lucky you are that the mosquitoes don’t like you, but they love me.
It’s always been that way that wherever we are and living in the south, like I mentioned that we grew mosquitoes the size of the pterodactyls kind of down there sometimes, and they would fly and I would be swarmed and my wife would have nothing to do with these blood sucking, venomous things. And so it was always, Why me? Why am I the one who gets all the mosquito bites? Why am I the one that walks outside for five minutes and all of a sudden all I hear is, Why me? Why can’t I just be saved from this wrath of the mosquitoes in the Western world? In our world, that’s not a life threatening kind of thing. And I know there’s places in the world where that is a life threatening thing. So I don’t want to make light of that. But it really comes down to how we’ve come to think about Salvation. It’s about why me? Why them? Why are they the ones who are doing the right thing in God’s eyes and why not me? Why I’ve been doing all this good stuff, and I surely am going to get into heaven. You see how Salvation turns into Judgie Mcjudgersons?
It turns out that when we talk about Salvation, we can’t help as human beings, but to turn on our judging hats, we can’t help but to start thinking about who’s getting in and who’s getting out. And it might surprise you to say that Jesus has some things to say about this. In fact, Jesus tells us, basically, Stop it. Stop worrying about your Salvation, because I’ve got you. It’s a message of the gospel. It’s a message of who we are as people of faith. It’s a message of who we have been as people of faith. And it’s a message that has been really hard for most of us as people of faith to get most of the time God’s got you. Quit worrying about it. Gods got you. So when we get all wrapped up in our Why me? Why me? Or maybe at least I’m not like blank. I’m sure none of you kind people at first present have ever said anything like that. We’re really talking about Salvation and becoming one as God’s people. This notion of Salvation and heaven and hell and who’s getting in and who’s being left out. And it all just Salvation comes when we die.
And all of that is the notion that I’m going to tell you a secret that maybe the pastors don’t want me to tell you. But when we die, nobody knows. We don’t know, except we know God’s promise that God has us, that nothing separates from God. As Paul says in Romans, nothing, not even death, can separate us from God, meaning we are already saved. Salvation is real because God’s got us. So quit asking Why me? Or saying, well, at least I’m not like blank. And guess what? The Church has been doing this for years because we like to know if we’ve got it all figured out or not, right? We hate living in that uncertainty of trusting that God’s got us no matter what. And so the Ephesians that we read from tonight were in that same boat, the same boat of saying, well, at least I’ve done this. So certainly I’m a better Christian than this person, or we think one of their main battles in Ephesus was that the rich Christians were kicking out the poor Christians from the table and the rich Christians were eating all the feast food first, and then the poor Christians were getting the table scraps kind of thing going on.
And Paul said, Stop it. Remember, you are God’s people, all of you. And if you caught in the scripture, that’s what Paul’s trying to remind them, that your Salvation, that you’re coming together with God. The fancy theological word we use for Salvation is called atonement. And it’s really complicated at, meaning our place of being at one, like being one and meant just to say to be right. So our atonement is just being one with God at one Mint. You can think of it that way. And Paul reminds them that your Salvation, your atonement, your oneness with God has nothing to do with what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’re the rich one, if you’re the lifelong Jewish follower who never broke a Jewish law in your life, or if you’re the brand new Christian who’s just trying to figure out who just heard about this Christ person. All of that comes from God’s Grace, God’s love, God’s being. And so our Salvation is there to remind us that God’s got us. So quit with the at least I’m better than so and so kind of thought, because as Paul says to the Ephesians, you are now one with Christ.
You are one people, you are citizens of God together, building up this building into the temple, meaning you are gathered together and you are supposed to be together, the people of God. So act like it. So one of those other Southern sayings that we get is from moms in the south. They say, I brought you into this world. So as you may know it, I don’t want to say it too fast because I bet some of you know it. I brought you into this world so I can take you out of this world, right? You’ve heard that my mother would never have said, well, first of all, I would never have done anything to have my mother say that to me, of course. But it’s the flip side of that is what we’re talking about with Salvation. God says, I created you, you are my creation, you are mine. And so you get to do all of this stuff that Jesus told you to do. It’s because of our Salvation. It’s because of God’s Grace that we get to do all the amazing things that we do as the people of Christ, that we love our neighbors, that we feed people, that we give people homes and houses, that we help the poor, that we do those things that Jesus calls feeding our sheep.
It is because of our Salvation that we are God’s people. Not because of what we’ve done, not because somebody is better than another person or somebody’s worse than another person or we know exactly who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell. Our Salvation is our foundation for how we walk in this world because we get to see glimpses of it each and every day. You know that we live in a broken world. You see it every day. But you also know that God’s Grace can move in those broken places. That’s Salvation at work, that’s God’s love at work, that’s God’s Grace at work for you and for me and for all of us in this entire world. That God lives in this world with us is Salvation. My wife, when our kids were just itty bitty babies, used to sing this song as we were going to bed. It’s more of just a poem that I don’t know where she got it. She might have made it up, but it goes like this. It says, I love you when you’re happy, and I love you when you’re sad. I love you when you’re angry.
And even when you’re mad, I love everything about you, from your head down to your toes. You’ll always be my Mia wherever you may go. And we say it to my daughter and we say it to my son each and every night so that they know that whatever happens in this world, however good they are, however bad they are, whatever choices they make, that there is nothing that can separate them from how much we love them. It’s that same message that Christ gives to us through Salvation. No matter if you’re happy, no matter if you’re sad, no matter if you’re angry or even when you’re mad, you’ll always, always be God’s people. So act like it.