Most preachers, I imagine, have had similar experiences at some point.
After listening to a sermon an individual told the preacher that he had it all wrong. The listener claimed he was not a sinner. He had been forgiven once, and so it was not necessary to mention it again. That person would appreciate it if the pastor spent his time and expended his energy working on the sinners in the church and community, and not on making him feel so bad.
After over forty years that incident still haunts me. I still wonder what I could have done better or differently. Judging from our reading, I suspect that perhaps St. Paul had similar experiences. So, read on!
Saint Paul’s pastoral heart really showed itself in our reading this week. Frustration often goes with the divine call into ministry. God’s people have it all—forgiveness of sins, life, and everlasting salvation, earthly blessings, and a wonderful sense of well-being; but in reading our text I sense a deep frustration. The children of Israel were God’s people of promise. Read on:
to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever.
They had assumed that because they were once children of promise they were safe and saved. They were proud of their heritage as Jews, and as a result they could not or would not see Satan’s backdoor attacks on them. The problem was that for the most part they had rejected Jesus and had Him killed! They had missed the important stuff like sin and forgiveness, God’s unchangeable Law and immutable Good News!
We ourselves have also heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. We share in this promise and celebrate this gift of God’s grace because God says so and not because of anything we say, think, or do!
This is what Paul sought to teach, preach, and share! This is also what Christians should still celebrate, and preachers should tell their hearers.
We pray: Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gifts of Your Son and the Holy Spirit. Enable us to know, celebrate, and share this Good News throughout our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.