June 17, 2018: 3rd Sunday after Trinity

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, conflicts are the biggest problem we face in life, and they are all a result of human sin. Because of sin we are conflicted with You, conflicted with others, and conflicted with ourselves. As this inner war churns within us, it leads to all sorts of spiritual, emotional and physical problems. Eventually it kills us. That’s why today we thank You from the bottom of our hearts because You have removed the biggest conflict of all: our conflict with God. You have died for us and thereby reconciled us to the entire Godhead through grace by means of faith. May we revel in this newfound peace. Amen
TEXT: Romans 5: 6-11
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Are you having trouble sleeping? Do you wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing, pulse beating quickly, and perhaps in a sweat? You try the usual remedies. You blame it on: “Something I ate.” But, most of the time, if you delve deeply, its source is a conflict, an unresolved conflict, that you’re trying to deal with.
At this point in my life I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with unsettling emotional pain is by letting it go with forgiveness. Even if that forgiveness is one-sided—all from you and none from anyone else—that’s o.k. It still functions as the ultimate safety valve to prevent an explosion within. Forgiveness is letting go of a hurt and doing it out of self-giving love. In love you pity the person who caused your pain because whether they know it or not, they still will carry their emotional problems inside until they too, learn the peace that comes with real forgiveness.
Today we come across an intriguing word in our text which elucidates all this. That word is: reconciliation. My trusty old Webster’s dictionary has this for the definition of: reconcile. “To restore friendship, harmony, or communion; to adjust or settle differences.”
I suppose this word is used most often today in terms of people with marriage problems. The husband or wife does something hurtful, they have a quarrel, it seemingly cannot be settled, and they split apart. Eventually, through patient counseling they seek to settle their differences and get back together. We call that: to reconcile. Sadly, the divorce rate in our country shows how difficult such reconciliation really is.
God knows words and uses His words very, very, carefully in the Bible. Think of all those passages where He is the Bridegroom and we, the church, are His bride. Think back to Genesis when that holy marriage between God and Adam and Eve, the 1st church, was split apart by their unfaithfulness to Him. Every problem we experience today, every conflict, is a result of that split. We could not and will not reconcile ourselves to Him because all our attempts are imperfect. All are tainted by human pride. So, God, the innocent party decided to reconcile us to Him! He did all the work. He did all the giving. And that reconciliation of our former oneness with Him was accomplished by His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ, Who died on a cross to pay for our conflicts with God. And since God’s Son was and is perfect, so is His work of reconciliation. Today, right now, God is at peace with you. All He wants you to do is accept that harmony and friendship by faith. Believe it and it is yours!
All this and more is St. Paul’s point in our lesson. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Let’s return to the marriage imagery. So, the wife was unfaithful to her husband, split from him, and wanted out of the marriage. She warred against him at every turn and harangued him for everything. Nonetheless, He still loved her and against any human advice He took her back. He protected her when she wasn’t even aware she needed it and ended up dying for her to prove that His heart, unlike hers, was pure and devoid of hate and retribution. This is exactly what Jesus Christ did to save His Church, sinners like you and me. This is why they call it: “Amazing Grace.”
But, there’s more. “Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Christ’s amazing act of pure love and kindness, enduring death in our place, won us peace with God Almighty. And it ushered in harmony, communion, and the settling of all disputes and differences between us and God. It brought about our reconciliation. He reconciled Himself to us! And then Christ arose from the dead to a new life. That new life is also a vital outgrowth of our reconciliation. We’re saved from eternal conflicts by Him forever. Saved from hell and damnation forever. Through His life we have eternal life. In view of this amazing gift made ours through faith, the only outcome and the only response on our part is: rejoicing!
Think back on the happiest day of your life. Against all odds you came out a winner. You achieved some sort of dream and spent the whole day rejoicing over that success. When you went to bed, after tamping down your endorphin-driven high, how did you sleep? I’ll bet it was literally “like a baby.” That’s because joy is antithetical to conflict. So, tonight, dear Christian, go to bed and sleep deeply fueled by the truth that God has removed the ultimate conflict: the fear over sin, from your life. Sleep peacefully knowing that because of reconciliation He’s at peace with you and always will be. Amen