For many years, Pastor Mickey has served as a chaplain for the SD Fire Department and other responding agencies throughout the county. As a chaplain, his duty is to support and help people dealing with crises or tragedies, both victims and responders. In recently responding to an incident involving a tragic death that had occurred as the result of a car accident, a police officer was overcome by one question, “Why did this happen?”
Though God doesn’t necessarily give us explanations, He does give us promises, to be with us, to deliver us, and His plans to give us hope and a future.
Pastor Miles recently dedicated a whole series of messages on this topic, examining the scriptures and providing some insight as to why bad things happen. It is difficult for us to understand and it’s still okay for us to ask God, "Why?" When Jesus was on the cross dying for the sins of humanity, He quoted Psalm 22, saying, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" There are times in our lives that are so painful and difficult, we simply can’t understand why they are happening. Though God doesn’t necessarily give us explanations, He does give us promises, to be with us, to deliver us, and His plans to give us hope and a future.
Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, recently experienced the tragic suicide of his grown son, who had mental illness. As he emerged back into the public view after a time of overwhelming grief, pain ,and loss, he posted this message on Twitter: “Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest. Your notes sustained us.”
This is a picture of Jesus’ suffering for us. People cursed and reviled Him, even as He was in the act of dying on the cross for the forgiveness of the sins of others.
Pastor Mickey posed a question to us taken from Galatians 3:1-3,
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
We have a very diverse church in terms of our own experiences and views of God. Some are here searching, not sure if they really believe in God. Some are convinced there is a God, but they are not sure of who God is. Some may believe in the God of the Bible but still view Christianity as a series of religious duties to perform. Others may have been saved by confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead, but they still have doubts, fears, frustrations, and conflict. Others may believe they have it all figured out and have fallen into a complacent routine of attending church, reading their Bibles, and giving to the offering, but are not willing to fully yield their decision-making and their hearts to the Lord. But no matter where you lie on that spectrum, there is rich, transformational life waiting for you, if you choose to die to yourself and trust more and more in Jesus.
Bob Goff, author of Love Does, says, “The mission of the church is to love God, love people, and do stuff.” We are to do the work that Jesus did -- healing, blessing, encouraging, teaching, and walking in the power of God.
Too much division exists in the church today, as people bicker over the doctrine and practice of Christianity. But we already have an enemy; we don’t need to fight with one another! Rather, we should seek unity, share with one another, and learn from our differences. Because we all worship the same Jesus, we should be able to focus on that and do His work. This is pleasing to God.
If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:15
Even when we are hurt, we can still choose to be vulnerable and unified in Christ. Just as Adam and Eve hid from God and covered themselves after they had sinned, it is our natural inclination to hide and protect ourselves when we are hurt. We cover our hearts, never wanting to feel pain, rejection or abandonment ever again. But the whole journey of the Christian faith is to realize a trust in God – that we can relinquish that control that we covet and allow Him to peel away our layers, expose our authentic selves, and give and receive real love.
- Galatians 2:20
- 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
- Philippians 3:20-21
- Romans 8:28-29
- Romans 12:1
Once we believe in Jesus, we are clothed in righteousness and the Holy Spirit lives in us. By the Holy Spirit, we enter a process of transformation, dying to ourselves, allowing Jesus to live more and more in us, and renewing our minds and hearts to grow in the image of Christ.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-25
Paul writes these words to bring to our attention that we are living in the realm of the flesh. Jesus says we commit adultery even by looking lustfully upon another person and that if we are angry without cause, we have murdered the person in our hearts. The book of James says that if are guilty of even one sin, we are guilty of all. All of this should cause us to realize that we can’t be sinless or even forgiven on our own; we need a Savior.
We can be grateful that we are saved by the grace of God, not by our own merit or goodness. The process of transforming my sinful tendencies into a life that bears the fruit of God’s spirit is performed by the Holy Spirit!
Do you feel good with God as long as you are in control and things are comfortable? When an unexpected event occurs or when God's higher thoughts and ways intervene with your plans and you don't understand it, do you withdraw from Him and refuse to let Him take the lead? No matter where you are in your faith journey, you can make a choice to yield yourself to Christ today and allow for more of His transformational work to be done in your life, that you may begin to bear more and more of the fruits of the Spirit!