Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this Independence Day our thoughts focus on our life in America. We’re thankful for our freedom to worship You without constraint. And we ask that You continue to bless our land and prosper our people. And yet, we also have both feet on the road to heaven, and because of that we are frustrated by the lack of piety, Godliness, and true humility in our land. So, we ask that You equip each of us to show forth Your glory and stand up for Your truths here and now. We ask that You empower each of us to live our lives to the fullest, not wishing them away. For thereby, by Your grace, we can save souls and fill You with joy. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GOD IN WHOM WE TRUST!
TEXT: 2 Corinthians 5: 1-10
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Made Free By The Blood Of The Lamb:
The population of planet earth is about 6 billion people. The population of America is about 300 million. And most of our fellow earthlings look at Americans with envy and jealousy. They see our wealth, our conveniences, our large homes, our cars, our “living large” lifestyles—and they think: “That must be heavenly.”
On this Independence weekend, most Americans would agree. Amid the crackle of fireworks, the sentimental parades, and bunting everywhere—not to mention a day off work—most Americans are reasonably content.—And they should be!
As Christians we have another reason to be content and happy. For we know that all this is a gift from God. A gift that will culminate in heavenly glory—real glory that won’t fade after a day. And yet, many Godly believers are discouraged and frustrated with life in America. They see all the problems—the daily misuse of God’s name without a thought, the dishonoring of parents and those in authority, the rampant focus on sex for sex’s sake, abortion on demand, the culture of greed that is so pervasive, and the rush to accept homosexuality—they see those things and weep for our country. And it makes them want to turn their backs on this life and simply go through the motions until they die and go to heaven.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a Christian who doesn’t long for heaven is no Christian. Yet, at the same time, a Christian Who denigrates God’s gift of life here and now, is both weak and lazy. No less an authority than St. Paul touches on this conundrum in which we find ourselves. And if we carefully study his words in our text we will hear him telling us:
DON’T FALL INTO THE TEMPTATION OF LIVING HALF A LIFE!
The central problem facing all humans is: they live and then they die. We’re all caught up in the here and now. Check your pulse. Is it beating? Are your breathing? Well then your body and soul are rooted to earth at this instant. Or, as Paul says: “We live in an earthly tent”—meaning our bodies. However, as believers loved by God, forgiven by Christ’s blood, and made His children through faith, we know that the best is yet to come. We know that our earthly tent will eventually be destroyed by death, but our souls will live on in glory and be reunited to our glorified bodies in the resurrection. And because of that fact, very often we become so discouraged by the evil surrounding us that we want to give up on life and simply wait it out until death embraces us.
Paul speaks of this when he writes: “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and have given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
Obviously St. Paul wanted to go to heaven. He knew and experienced the pain of life. He suffered ship-wreck, beatings, scorn, the lack of a family, imprisonment, and finally an unjust death. He possessed few creature comforts—the things we Americans take for granted. And yet, he didn’t wish his life away. He wasn’t lazy when it came to working for God’s kingdom. He didn’t succumb to the temptation to live half a life. No, he embraced every moment he had on planet earth—to do for God and make an eternal difference in the lives of others. He preached Christ everywhere. He always let His light shine. He spread the seed of God’s Word and trusted God to give the increase.—And God did! This life wasn’t just something to be “gotten through.” No, it was a gift from his Creator to be embraced fully. And the one thing that kept Paul’s equilibrium as he did so was the certain knowledge that something even better awaited!
Listen to his words: “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
As Americans, God has given us life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for a reason.—Not to wish it away, but to use it wisely. He has made us the salt of the earth, the preservative of our nation. And if we fail to use our saltiness, our nation and more importantly, His singular work of saving souls, will fail. Take it from a preacher who has suffered many disappointments in life—planting faith, showing God’s grace, living the positive nature of the Gospel is hard. Sin lives in America. Hardness of heart lives in America. And countless people who are too busy for God live in America. And yet, Paul says: “our goal is to please Him.” So, instead of crying about the problem, or withdrawing from the world into our own fantasyland, we need to get busy. We need to fearlessly proclaim that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” We need to always—at home, at work, at school, in the store—let the world know that God’s way breeds fulfillment and joy. That God’s way leads to inner peace and contentment. That the love of Christ never fails to uplift us. And that walking by faith and not by sight is the very best way to live because it frees us from groaning and complaining by fixing our eyes on an eternal love that never disappoints.
Today I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud to live in this land. But I’m even more proud that I’m a Christian who has been called by God Almighty to daily “show forth the praises of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light!” Yes, my friends, don’t fall into the temptation to live half a life—instead embrace all of life because in Christ life never ends it just gets better! Amen