Sermon text here
It is no secret that Christians believe that God created all things, whether seen as in the world we exist in, or unseen as the spiritual realm beyond our senses. Even more, it is no secret—I hope—that Christians believe that we, that humans, are not simply another animal, a monkey that has figured out how to use power saws and wear pants, but that we are made in God’s image, bearing in our beings unique marks that display God’s nature and so setting us apart from and above the rest of creation, and yet still below God, beholden to Him as His creatures.
One of those markers within us, that reminds us constantly that we are not our own, but rather that we are of another Who has set the standards for our lives, is our conscience. It cries out against the wrong things we do, convicts us of the ways we are thinking and acting badly, and prompts us to change our attitudes and deeds. Yet one of the most popular pastimes for humanity is the searing of our consciences, letting impulses that we know, in our deepest core serve only for our ultimate destruction, become the ruling force in our hearts and minds. Throughout history it has been common practice for people to resist the conviction of their conscience by attacking those who would bring the force of God’s truth to bear against them, and without doubt that continues today, as humanity industrializes death and seeks after new and more inventive ways to please itself into the grave.
Such things do not exist in a vacuum, and most assuredly what they bring upon us is God’s judgment. I am reminded of a scene from the movie 12 Years a Slave, which I wanted to include for a little context. Full and fair warning: this scene does involve some harsh language, however it is in a historical context rather than a gratuitous one.
This stuck out to me both for the truth being spoken, as well as for the striking irony that so many would hear a statement such as this about slavery and have no qualms about nodding in agreement, and saying “Yes! This is so true!” Yet apply that same standard to an area where they act sinfully, or where they hold a position that mirrors that of Epps on a different subject, and the reaction will be very different. Take Bass and put him outside an abortion clinic, telling a mother walking in to to have her child killed, or a worker preparing for a day of participating in such atrocities, that there is a universal truth that condemns their actions, and that they are participating in wickedness that will bring a time of accounting for them before a holy and just God, and you wouldn’t get cheers and nods from our hearer. You would get the same derisive responses he gets in this scene: “Easy for you to say, you can’t have a baby. You must be some Bible-thumper trying to control women’s bodies. The law says this is legal, how dare you try to stop it!”
That’s a single example, and I daresay that I could probably spend a long time here thinking up examples until I found one that pricked the hearts of every listener here. That’s what the law does in conjunction with that God-given conscience: it tells us the truth, it drives us to see reality. And that reality is that every one of us is in need of a change in our relationship with God. But that is where things change. That is where, as Spurgeon preaches in this sermon, the real good news comes in: that relationship change is here, it is available, and it comes to us by God’s will and goodness, not by our ability to clean ourselves up. It comes to us by the cross of Christ, by His love that runs deeper than we could ever conceive, and through His righteousness that is our only hope of bringing our sinful, tattered selves with our seared consciences before the Maker of the universe, the perfect holy Judge of all things, and finding something other than death. On the contrary: we find life. We find renewal, we find refreshment, we find that Christ has made all things new. And when the time comes for all God’s children to stand at His throne for the judgment, He will finally and truly make all things new, in renewing creation. The work accomplished bit by bit, day by day by the Holy Spirit will be completely done.
I love it when I find something in a work of fiction that inspires me to worship God. Obviously, I included something above, so this is not news, even though that work was based upon a true story. But I think about that day to come when Jesus shall return and all creation will end its groaning and find, instead, that complete remaking that is promised, when I have occasion to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe again, especially when Mr. Beaver explains who Aslan is to the children by use of an old prophetic rhyme:
Wrong will be right,
when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar,
sorrows will be no more,
When he bears his teeth,
winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane,
we shall have spring again.
My friends, my listeners, when I hear that I am reminded of the great hope of Christ. The Lion of Judah has declared that He will set all things to right, that He will wipe the tears from our eyes and that He will end sorrow, hunger and despair; no longer will injustice rule the land but rather the justice and righteousness of God will be the byword and rule over all, to the good of all. The prophet Isaiah wrote of those coming days:
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. –Isaiah 65:17-19
Let those who know Jesus and love Him rejoice at this. And let those who don’t, who hear his name and roll their eyes, or who think to any reason possible to resist him, let them this time hear conviction and respond to it, and turn to Christ to find restoration, and peace, and real, true life from the great Life-giver.