July 9, 2017: 5th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, bless every single choice we make in our lives! Steer us clear from ones that would harm our souls and the souls of those we love and steer our minds toward choices that benefit not only ourselves but those around us. Do this by focusing us on Your grace and mercy every single day. Amen


TEXT: Romans 5: 12-15

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

How many were in your confirmation class? All of them pledged their undying loyalty to Jesus Christ and to the Lutheran faith. All of them said they would rather face death than to give up on Christ. Yet how many of them still go to church today and still actively practice their faith? What has caused this disconnect between Jesus and those who have basically fallen away? The answer is: sin. More to the point, the answer is: choices, bad choices.

From a strictly human vantage point, our lives revolve around two immutable truths. We can call them: 1. The Law of intended consequences and 2. The Law of unintended consequences. Let’s dissect that statement. We make countless choices every day which have intended consequences. We invest retirement money in specific stocks intending it to grow, increase and build greater value. We choose to eat cheeseburgers and fries for lunch instead of more healthy salads without a thought to the condition of our arteries. We foster friendship with certain people because we intend a strengthening of commitment. We leave for work at a certain time and take a certain road because it will cause us to arrive sooner. But, the Law of unintended consequences sometimes rears its ugly head in every scenario, doesn’t it? The stocks lose money, the fast food leads to a heart attack, friends betray or disappoint us, and if, if, you only left 5 minutes earlier you’d have avoided that nasty car crash! Life’s choices always seem to spark unintended consequences.


There were no “unintended consequences” in this world before Adam and Eve sinned. There was only blessing. They didn’t mean for death and evil and heart ache and sickness and pain to be visited upon them. But, alas, it came. It came all because they didn’t think, they didn’t obey God, and they thought they knew it all. So, as St. Paul now says: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned,…death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.” Sin is the Law of unintended consequences played out in the lives of everyone—for even those who know nothing of the 10 commandments (which defines sin) they are still controlled by their sinful nature and suffer accordingly. It’s all so sad.

Everything we think, say, and do affects us and all those around us—even future generations. We may think that belittling comment to another uttered in grade school is harmless, but is it? What happens when that person grows up, is successful, owns the biggest business in town and your kids want a job from them? What happens when they recognize the name, think of you and that ancient comment, probe a bit, and then say: “No, we don’t need you” to your child? You didn’t intend any of that to happen all those years ago. But it has, and it does.

I’ll give you another example. Parents don’t think that babies can understand and process what they are talking about. So, parents sometimes have adult conversations in front of those little ones that are hurtful and spiteful. But some people, including me, are beginning to understand that babies can pick up words and especially emotional vibes from parents—especially during stressful times. And we’re also beginning to understand that those vibes imprint themselves on the baby’s developing psyche and later on influence their behavior and even their physical well-being! This is another result of the Law of unintended consequences.

Going back to our confirmation classes, I grieve for all those souls that basically have lied to God by turning their backs on Him and walking away from His church. But I especially grieve for their children and their grandchildren. Maybe it was a move or a job change to a different state that got them out of the church habit. Maybe it was meeting a non-believer and thinking that human love would bring them around and they would convert them once they were married. The sad truth is: the opposite usually occurs. Anyway, these former Christians raise their kids without Christ and then those kids do the same. So, how many souls are eternally influenced in a negative way all because of some unintended choice make in haste, in lust, in greed, or in apathy?


At this point, I’ve probably gotten you to question everything you do and to fear the future. And fearing the future and being so paralyzed is no way to live. That’s why the second half of our lesson is all important! “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, (Adam), how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!”

A basic truth of Christianity is that God is more powerful than evil and that His grace will always overcome sin. And that grace, that undeserved love of God is found only in Jesus Christ. He earned it for us. He won its liberating blessings for us on the cross. Death was the ultimate unintended consequence of human sin and Christ triumphed over death with His resurrection from His grave—in our place. And so even when we still sin and make bad choices God promises to fix them so that “All things work for good to those who love God.” My friends, that’s the reason we get out of bed and go on living without being gripped by constant fear. Yes, “if God be for us, who can be against us?”

I wrote about these same truths in your July newsletter. I wrote about living with constant what if’s, maybe’s, and worry over choices made called “Living under the Law.” It’s a terrible burden to bear emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But, I also reminded you in the newsletter to focus on grace and live each day to its’ fullest, come what may, by pleading Christ’s forgiveness for all sins known and unknown and then making choices without fear over the future. Yes, it is God’s grace alone that overcomes the Law of unintended consequences. Thank You, Jesus! Amen