September 15th, 2019 (14th Sunday after Pentecost): “Faith and Love That Are In Christ”
Main Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17 (Exodus 32:7-14; Luke 15:1-10)
I have heard people say of someone that they admired who passed, “I just wish I had half their faith.” Yet, no matter how wonderful and loving that person was, no one compares to the love embodied in Jesus Christ. We should not desire only half of what someone else had, but instead, ask for all of Christ to dwell in us. The measure we keep before us is the faith and love that are in Christ. It’s not about accomplishing this but continuing to strive for it. The people in the wilderness lost their faith and began to create their own gods. God could have wiped them out, but instead, his love for Moses made him listen and change his mind. God exercised mercy over judgement. Paul claims to be an example of the faith and love that are in Christ, not because of who he is but rather what the grace of God has made him. If Paul is the utmost of sinners and can be forgiven and renewed, how about you. The Gospel of Luke story reveals this lavish mercy of God. He asks the Pharisees, who were seeking to limit whom God’s mercy extends to, a series of questions that begins with “who among you would not…” Now look carefully and you will see that the obvious answer is none of them would. No shepherd is going to leave 99 sheep unattended in the wilderness to go after the one. The one is an acceptable loss, except to God. This is the kind of faith and love that are in Christ. This is also the kind of faith and love that we are called to live into as we live God’s love!