Monday, May 2, 2011

God Rocks Because, God Loves Everyone!?

This is a sermon I gave on Saturday night at Nativity Lutheran Church in North Conway, NH, at their Rocharist worship service. It was a little strange that I mentioned Osama Bin Laden and he was killed Sunday night. This is the reason that I can not cheer his death. Although I think it was the right thing to do, I still don't think that killing someone is a reason to cheer. We are all children of God even the evil ones.

When I heard that the theme for our worship was that God is awesome. God loves us all.
First thing I thought was I wanted to change God is awesome to the more acceptable theologically correct, God Rocks.
Second, I thought that would be an easy thing to preach about.
God loves everyone.
In some ways we all take this for granted now.
I get up and tell you that God loves everyone and you all think “yeah of course”.
But the more I thought about the more I realized that what sounds good in theory is hard in the real world.
I mean when you think about the people that everybody includes.

Does God love this guy?

Almost every theological discussion about good and evil includes a discussion about Hitler.
I thought we would start here so we can get it out of the way.
Hitler not only started a war he also killed thousands of blacks, gays, intellectuals, and Jews.
Hitler did not merely kill people but he built a philosophy to make that killing seem good.
A man of such hate and evil God could not love this person could he?

How about this person?

Osama Bin Laden is responsible for the killing of many innocent people.
He believes in using terror as a political tool.
Just looking at his picture makes us mad and disgusted.
Right now our country is still trying “hunt down and kill him”.
Not only that but he happens to be of another religion.
God can’t possibly love this guy right?

How about this guy?

Jeffery Dahmer would bring people to his apartment in Milauwakee kill, rape and then eat their bodies.
In all Dahmer killed 17 people in cold blood premeditated.
After his death in prison, Dahmer's mother, Joyce Flint, responded angrily to the media, "Now is everybody happy? Now that he's bludgeoned to death, is that good enough for everyone?"
Does God love Jeffery Dahmer?

How about this person?

In discussing sexuality at my last congregation in New York some people were saying that they could understand homosexuality.
But they drew the line at transvestites.
Why do they have to throw it in our face?
This is a picture of a transvestite at a parade in New York.
Does God love this person?

How about this person?

For many liberals Pat Robertson is the devil.
He is seen as twisting the word of God to fit into a type of politics and world view that is mean spirited.
He is also rich and powerful.
He has his own television show watched by millions.
Does God love this person?

My point is that we all have our lines.
We all have people that we think about and wonder if God could really love that person.
Recently Rob Bell wrote a book called “love wins” in it he suggests that God’s love is bigger than our sin.
And he suggests that everyone goes to heaven, or that Jesus has made hell irrelevant.
This has caused a major reaction from some Christians not wanting to give everyone a free pass.
They would argue that without hell there is nothing holding us accountable.
I mean if Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, and Jeffery Dahmer are allowed in heaven what is the point.
If God loves everyone then what makes us as Christian special.

The Biblical problem is that God is always opening the door to more and more people.
The Bible is not about God’s love for only some people it is about God’s love for the world.
John’s Gospel starts with this global perspective that God loves the world.
It is then lived out in the real world by Jesus.
Jesus loved the rich and poor, the well and the sick, the prostitute and the Pharisee, the lost son and the good son, the sinner and the saints.
Tonight we hear about Jesus appearing to his disciples after his resurrection.
In the middle of a locked room Jesus appears to the ones who betrayed, denied and fled from him and offers peace.
Then he comes back a second time to show himself to one who does not believe.
Over and over the Bible tells us stories of Jesus going the extra mile for those that are lost and forgotten.
The Biblical view is that God loves everyone regardless of political ideology, sexual orientation, race, creed, and sin.
In Jesus God shows God’s loves to all and offers the love of God to all.

It should be noted that Jesus does not like everyone’s behavior, and is not afraid to point this out.
Especially the rich, religious, and privileged Jesus challenges them to think of the ways they build system that abuse others.
Jesus challenges them to think that their privilege does not make them more loved by God, which was a common theological thought, and still is today, but that they have more responsibility to help others not exclude them.

Cornell West has said that “Justice is what love looks like in public, just as intimacy is what love looks like in private.”
As Christians regardless if we like people we are too love them, because God rocks and God loves them.
This means insuring that every one of God’s people receives all the things that they need to succeed in life.
It means insisting on justice for people experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental illness.
It means having mercy and compassion for those that are less fortunate.
It means extending grace even to the most despicable of people.
It means not allowing anyone to feel less than anyone else.

The ultimate question is does God love this guy?

Do we have faith and believe that God loves us?
Do we believe that God wants the best for us?
Do we believe that Jesus died and was resurrected so that we might have peace?
It is hard to believe sometimes because we don’t always love of ourselves.
On any given day we are the outsiders.
We don’t think we are good enough, pretty enough, rich enough, well enough, young enough.
We are the people who talk in hateful words.
We are the people who kill our neighbors and desire for laws rather than love and mercy.
We are the ones calling out for revenge and blood to be spilled.
Can God really love me?

The answer tonight is that yes God does because God rocks!

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