C Cycle – 6th Sunday of Easter 22
Today we celebrate the sixth Sunday of Easter; spring is here; school is out; people are planning for an uncertain summer because of inflation, food shortages, increased gas prices and economic uncertainties. Yet, the church is having us celebrating the risen Christ. If we would admit the truth our minds are somewhere else and perhaps that is a good reason the church is reminding us God has not given up on us because we are easily distracted. The church is reminding us there is hope, there is a future and there is joy because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
It is easy for us to be distracted by daily events, by our own fluctuating emotions and our own desires. But we need to look beyond those distractions to the reality of who we are and how we must respond to God’s plan for our lives. We need to realize the reason God crested the world and us as the crowning glory of all creation was to share in an intimate relationship with God, an expansion of God’s love beyond the Trinity.
The sin of Adam cost us intimacy, eternal life, and a life without any of the hardships we face today. But God’s plan was not changed, he immediately set forth a way for us to enjoy what we lost because of Adam’s sin. In the Old Testament books, God reveals that plan and are filled with his promises to achieve for us the existence with God we can never achieve by our own merit. God promises us he will sanctify us and will be with us. That plan was set in motion with the covenant God makes with Noah, Abraham and was reinforced with the covenant God made with Moses.
God declared to Moses, he will be our God and the Israelites will be his people and the center piece of that covenant was the law written on tables of stone. Since God knows all things, it is obvious he knew they could not keep the simplest of the laws and neither can we. That should not surprise us, but it should make us question why God would give them six hundred and fourteen laws when he knew human nature would desire what the law said to avoid.
The answer to that question is because the law simply shows us our need for a savior. The law can only point our failure and convict us; it can never change us. Paul said it perfectly when he wrote, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want, Wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death” (Rom. 7:19, 24).
God, in response to our inability to keep the law, set up a means for his chosen people to repent, assuage their guilt and start anew by the sacrifice of animals. By their practice of the shedding of blood they were being prepared for the one sacrificial lamb promised by God to be atonement for the sins of all people. In Leviticus chapter 16 you will find the description of the one sacrificial offering for all the sins of all the Israelites. That one lamb’s sacrifice was celebrated annually as the great feast of atonement and prepared future generations to recognize Jesus as the “lamb of God.”
God thousands of years before the birth of Jesus promised us he would remove the penalty of our sins by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. However, Jesus was not the only part of God’s plan to change our tendency to sin and restore our desire for intimacy with him. His plan involved the entire Trinity. Our inclination to sin remained even after the resurrection of Jesus. We are still prone to sin, and we still desire to satisfy self. God’s plan was not just to forgive us but to restore us and his answer to us overcoming sin was the gift of the Holy Spirit. God promised us the Holy Spirit would write his law on our hearts (Jer. 36:33). Our desires would change, and we will delight in the laws of God instead of being condemned by them.
But more than writing his law on our hearts the Spirit will animate our prayer, make us temples where God’s love resides, teaches us, forms us, and gives us understanding about who we are and who we were created to be. Everything revealed to us during these 50 days of Easter prepare us for the final act of God’s love – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. If we would just take the time to stop trying to be holy and instead invite Christ to accomplish the work of forgiveness in us and invite the Holy Spirit to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ everything in our lives would change.
The Holy Spirit transports us into the Kingdom of God on earth where we can tap into the power of God and experience life as God intended. We have the uncanny ability to grasp the meaning of God’s word and that word begins to shape us and mold us into saints. The Spirit will help us discover the missing piece which is lying dormant within us. We are not allowing the grace of Jesus’s death and the transforming power of the Spirit to change us because we have been so busy trying to be holy through our own effort. We have been given a gift but because we are so busy trying to be holy, we have never considered what God did to make us holy.
We have become one dimensional in our approach to holiness when God intended us to be three dimensional. We need to experience the trinity at work within us, changing us and opening our eyes to see, our ears to hear and our hearts to respond. The law was and is our disciplinarian until we are ready to allow the law of the Spirit to guide us to the heart of God. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate whom the Father promised and whom Jesus said he would send will teach us and remind us of all God intends for us.
The only question for us is are we ready to experience the life God promised us or are we so afraid of the unknown we remain in old patterns of living and find ourselves doing the evil we do not want to keep doing