Sunday Gathering – Genesis – Human Dignity – Chris Simpson
March 3, 2024

Sunday Gathering – Genesis – Human Dignity – Chris Simpson

Passage: Genesis 9:1-29


Chris's sermon on "Human Dignity" from Genesis delves into various themes including the importance of the Old Testament for Christians, the significance of covenants, and the implications of being made in the image of God. Here's a summary of the sermon along with the Bible passages used:


  1. The Importance of the Old Testament: Chris emphasizes the significance of the Old Testament for Christians, refuting the idea that Christians don't need it. He provides three reasons:
    • Jesus and the New Testament writers frequently refer to the Old Testament with authority.
    • The Old Testament contains beauty and depth that enriches our understanding of God.
    • Starting the salvation story from Genesis helps provide a complete understanding of God's narrative.
  2. Interpretation of Old Testament Laws: Chris addresses the question of whether Christians are bound by Old Testament dietary laws. He explains that while Jesus fulfilled the law, Christians still consider Old Testament laws in light of New Testament teachings. He discusses the debate within the early church regarding adherence to Jewish laws and concludes that Christians are not bound by them but should consider cultural sensitivity.
  3. Interpretation of Old Testament Commands: Chris tackles the interpretation of Old Testament commands, particularly regarding the death penalty. He emphasizes the need for consistency and context when interpreting such commands, highlighting Jesus' authority to reinterpret Old Testament laws.
  4. Human Dignity and the Image of God: Chris explores the concept of human dignity rooted in the image of God. He contrasts the Christian perspective, where every individual is created in God's image, with atheistic viewpoints, emphasizing the basis for treating others with respect and love.
  5. Covenant and Grace: Chris discusses the covenant between God and Noah, highlighting the significance of covenants in Christianity. He draws parallels between the rainbow covenant in Genesis and the covenant represented by the bread and wine in Christianity, emphasizing the depth of God's commitment.
  6. Grace in Forgiveness: Chris compares Noah's sons' reactions to their father's disgraceful behavior, illustrating the concept of grace in forgiveness. He connects this to Jesus' forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery, emphasizing Jesus' fulfillment of the law with grace.
  7. Challenges and Disappointments in Spiritual Journeys: Chris reflects on the challenges and disappointments in spiritual journeys, drawing parallels with Noah's experience after the flood. He encourages maintaining a focus on the ultimate goal of the Christian journey, despite setbacks.
  8. Desire for the Eternal: Chris concludes by echoing C.S. Lewis's sentiments about the longing for the eternal home, emphasizing the importance of striving towards it while appreciating earthly blessings.

Bible Passages Used:

  1. Genesis 9: The passage describes God's covenant with Noah, including instructions for humanity's relationship with animals and the rainbow covenant.
  2. Leviticus 18:6: This verse prohibits sexual activity with close relatives, possibly providing context for Noah's situation.
  3. John 8: The story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery illustrates Jesus' approach to upholding the law with grace.
  4. Romans 8: Paul's writing in this chapter discusses the groaning of creation and believers' longing for redemption.

Chris's sermon provides valuable insights into the intersection of Old Testament teachings, New Testament principles, and their implications for Christian life and ethics.


So we're continuing with Genesis, and we're continuing with Noah,
and in fact we're continuing Noah beyond the flood, so it's kind of what happens next.
It's the new creation and so on. Next slide please.
Christians don't need the Old Testament, true or false? False. False is the right answer.
Let me just give you three reasons for saying that.
I think the first reason, quite simply, is that Jesus and the writers of the New Testament
frequently quote and refer to the Old Testament with authority as being God's word.
So if we didn't need it, somebody forgot to tell Jesus that.
Secondly, I think if we don't have time for the Old Testament,
then actually we miss out on a lot that is really good and beautiful.
Over the last few years, I did something that might be considered foolish.
I tried to memorize Psalm 119, all 176 verses of it,
and I spent hours and hours and hours as an Old Testament to try to do that.
And I didn't do that because I thought that God would love me more if I did,
because he couldn't. I didn't do it, or I hope I didn't do it,
because I thought I would get some kind of spiritual brownie points,
because that's not how it works. And I didn't do it, or I hope I didn't do it
in order as some kind of shortcut to supercharge my faith.
I did it, I think, simply because it was something very beautiful,
and also the Psalmist seemed to have something, a good infection,
that I wanted to catch.
And my third reason goes like this, a few weeks ago,
Anne had started watching some crime series on TV.
I can't remember what it was. And she'd watched the first three episodes
before I started to watch, and it was too much to kind of go back to the beginning,
so I kind of started at episode three.
And for that reason, I don't think my kind of grasp of everything that was going on
was all that it should have been, right through to the end.
And it's kind of the same with the Bible, you know.
If we don't start the salvation story in Genesis,
then we're coming in part way through the story.
And I don't know if you know what the first line in the New Testament is,
but it contains the word Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.
So that's like a clue that this was the continuation of a story that had already begun.
So, yes, it's definitely true. We do need the Old Testament.
We do need the Old Testament. Well, I'll establish that.
Let's get all out to read us some of it.
So, Genesis 9.
Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them,
be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky,
all the small animals that scurry along the ground,
and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror.
I have placed them in your power.
I have given them to you for food,
just as I have given you grain and vegetables,
but you must never eat any meat that still has the lifeblood in it.
And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person's life.
And if a wild animal kills a person, it must die.
And anyone who murders a fellow human must die.
And if anyone takes a human life, that person's life will also be taken by human hands.
For God made human beings in his own image.
Now be fruitful and multiply and repopulate the earth.
Then God told Noah and his sons,
I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants.
And with all the animals that were on the boat with you,
the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals,
in fact every living creature on earth.
Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you.
Never again will flood waters kill all living creatures.
Never again will a flood destroy the air.
Then God said, and I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you
and with all the living creatures for all generations to come.
I have placed my rainbow in the clouds.
It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.
And when I send clouds over the air, the rainbow will appear in the clouds.
And I will remember my covenant with you and with all the living creatures.
Never again will the flood waters destroy all life.
And when I see the rainbow in the clouds,
I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every creature on the earth.
And then God said to Noah, yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant.
I am confirming with all the creatures on the earth.
The sons of Noah who came out of the boat with their father were Shem,
Ham and Japheth.
Ham is the father of Canaan.
And from these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth.
After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground and he planted a vineyard.
And one day he drank some wine he had made.
And he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent.
Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers.
So then Shem and Japheth took a robe.
They held it over their shoulders and they backed into the tent to cover their father.
And as they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.
Thank you, Anne.
So at the beginning of chapter nine is the new creation in a way.
And the wording that we can just sound very similar to what we saw at the end of Genesis chapter one
about being fruitful and multiplying and so on.
Only now there's a kind of cloud and a kind of darker picture here.
And it doesn't finish with the words and God saw everything and it was good.
It is a fallen creation.
And there's now a tension between man and the natural world.
Particularly in the case of animals that man's not going to eat them.
But there's this harmony, a disconnection in the natural world in this new creation.
Interesting, there's an aside.
It kind of looks as if in paradise or in the Garden of Eden people were vegetarians.
But from now on they can eat meat.
But there's that cloudedness about the new creation.
And I'll come back to that later because there's a reference to it later in Romans.
But yes, it's a new world.
And it's a new world that experiencing some of God's blessing but not without its issues and problems.
And you kind of think about things like global warming is how kind of man's ambition and sinfulness
actually is often at variance with the needs of the natural world.
And something of this I think comes out in these verses.
Next slide please.
But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood in it.
So the question I want to ask you is, does that mean as Christians today that we shouldn't eat black pudding or rare steak?
And if not, why not?
After all we talked about us needing the Old Testament and the Old Testament being the Word of God.
That sentence is not ambiguous, it's pretty clear.
So are we bound by it or are we not?
And I'm going to try and answer that question a bit.
I think the good bit is, I think it's all right.
So I think you can eat black pudding if you want to.
You don't have to if you don't want to but it's there and the same with rare steak.
So I think this is okay for Christians.
But let's try and unpack the reasoning a bit for this.
I think the reasoning is when we look at the dietary laws that we find in the first five books of the Old Testament
and indeed much of the ritual laws about how they did religion including sacrifice and all of that.
Then we're going to look at all that with New Testament eyes.
So it's not about lift and drop.
We don't just kind of take a verse out of the Old Testament and say, right, this is for Christians.
We don't look at that without considering how the New Testament has viewed this.
So we're going to look at this with New Testament eyes.
And in the New Testament we learn that Jesus has fulfilled the law.
And let me just unpack a little bit in the context of this verse what we understand by fulfills.
I'm going to do that with a simple example.
If you come by our house at certain points last summer, you'd have seen scaffolding up around the front and the side
right up to the roof and the chimney stack.
And all the scaffolding was there because we were having leaks and they needed to dig up on the roof and try and fix the leaks.
And if you came a few weeks later, you'd find the scaffolding was gone.
It wasn't there anymore.
So why did we take the scaffolding down?
Was it because we thought scaffolding was useless?
Well, not at all actually.
We thought the scaffolding was very necessary and it done what we needed scaffolding to do.
But once it had fulfilled its purpose, we no longer needed that scaffolding.
And that's a bit about how we Christians have traditionally understood a lot of that kind of dietary and ritual law of the Old Testament.
It's not that it was bad or wrong whether it was old fashioned or any of the other adjectives you could think about.
It had a purpose.
But when Jesus died and rose again, its purpose was fulfilled and we no longer needed.
So that's why we say we do that.
There is actually an exception to that, which I will mention.
And it was certainly an exception because this verse, or verses very much like it,
were a hot issue in the early church.
And they were a hot issue for a good reason because you did church at that time that's primarily Jewish.
So to most Christians at the beginning are also Jewish.
And because they've been brought up as Jews, they're keeping the Jewish law.
But then, you know, people who are not Jews started getting converted and coming to Christ.
And the numbers of those who are not Jewish increased.
And because they hadn't been brought up with any of this ritual law not being Jews.
And so there was a tension.
And some people at the time thought, well, in order to be a Christian, you need to be, you need all the Jewish stuff and you need Jesus.
And the early church debated this at great length.
And the conclusion literally reached is actually you only need Jesus.
But this is where I come to the exception.
Out of deference to Jewish believers, we're going to ask you not to have food with meat in it, with blood in it.
And I think that would still be relevant.
So, you know, if you had somebody staying with you who was, said, a Jewish believer, or even maybe somebody who would come out of Islam
and go, you know, has got that kind of whole halal thing in their mind,
it might be appropriate not to do that rather than cause offense.
So there's a cultural sensitivity, but it's not a binding law.
So that's the explanation.
At least as best as I can give it now.
Next slide.
So we've gone forward to verses.
He who sheds human blood by humans, his blood shall be shed.
For the image of God, he made humankind.
Now, some people believe that this verse means that Christians should campaign for the restoration of the death penalty by the British government in the 21st century.
And some Christians would say yes to that.
That's exactly what we believe.
And I'm going to try and wrestle with that more difficult question.
Actually, I'm going to be, let me put it this way.
I'm not going to get too hung up on that question, because I'm really feeling for the question, okay, so which bits of the Old Testament do we accept?
I'm feeling for the bigger question behind it all.
So rather than getting too hung up on that question, they say, well, so what's the process we have to go through?
And remember what I said about the previous verse?
We don't just lift and drop.
So Christians don't just take something out of the Old Testament and plunk it down and say that for me.
We're always going to look at it through New Testament eyes.
So we're going to understand the question.
But the first challenge you have, if you are saying this definitely means we should have the death penalty for murder,
is actually going to be one of consistency.
You have to imagine the senior there tucking into your breakfast of bacon and black pudding,
while in your head composing an email to your MP arguing for the death penalty will be restored.
So what allowed you to say that actually it was all right to have black pudding, but we must have the death penalty?
Now, you might have an answer to that, but there needs to be an answer to that.
It can't just be, you know, I pick out the bits I like and say they are good, or because I've got a hobby horse on this particular subject like the death penalty.
I've found a verse in the Old Testament that supports that.
It's got to be, there's got to be a reason for going to say the supply.
And then there's a question where it's really around context.
So if we're really going to get into this issue about the death penalty, I think we want to look at all the other verses in the Bible,
including in other bits of the Old Testament and the New Testament and say, well, so what's the total teaching here?
Do we understand the whole teaching of the Bible and the context in which that's given?
I remember Andy saying, maybe other people have said it as well, but Andy once said, you have to ask not only what does the Bible say,
but what does the Bible also say?
So, you know, if you're going to build a position on something, we're not going to do it on one verse only.
We're going to look at what whole Bible have got to say.
And then there's another bit of context to think about.
The first five books of the Old Testament are really given to the people of Israel.
So this is God's particular people called to be His chosen people.
And that's the context in which the law is given.
Can we just say that also applies to the British government today?
And that's a big question.
And some people would say, oh, yeah, no, it's definitely, if God says it's got to be good for everybody, hasn't it?
So, actually, we know it was given to Israel, but it's got to be good for everybody.
I think one of the difficulties of that is you don't find in Acts or say in Paul's letter,
Christians being encouraged to lobby the local Roman senator on some point that Christians have a view.
That doesn't appear to be happening.
So I think there are some quite hard questions to be asked.
Now, you might be thinking at that point, oh, this is actually much easier.
It's quite clear when we come to a commandment in the Old Testament,
we just kind of fast forward to the next verse because it's all been fulfilled and we don't need that stuff anymore.
And we're under grace and we're under law and we're free to live as seems right to us.
Hold on a second.
Hold on a second because this is a bit more tricky because what we do find, again with our New Testament eyes,
is that big chunks of kind of the moral teaching in the Old Testament gets kind of reaffirmed in the New.
Now often it's reaffirmed with a twist, but nevertheless it's reaffirmed.
So that feels a little bit different to what I said about some of the dietary and ritual stuff.
Let me give an example to describe what I think is going on and then we can look at it a bit more.
Some of you will not, but for many years I was a senior manager in HMRC and I was later there,
I was based in a biggest office in Sheffield.
And obviously there was an expectation that people like me would kind of understand what the party line was on issues
and we would support that party line when we talk to staff.
And then one day I called John came to visit the office and John spoke to the staff probably anything a bit like this
and he took questions and he spoke to them.
And I realized that on a lot of issues he wasn't quite doing the party line.
He was saying things that were a bit different or suggesting how things might be not quite the same.
And I think that was interesting, I wish I could have got away with saying that myself.
And anyway, John went and I am certain that John never got into trouble for that.
He might think, well why would John get away with it?
And the short answer was he was the chief executive.
And actually that's a bit the same as Jesus and some of the Old Testament stuff.
He very often takes a command in a slightly different direction
and he can do because he has the authority.
So sometimes he says something like, you know, you've heard Moses saying so and so, but I tell you.
So he's kind of claiming authority.
So he reaffirms it, but often with a wider interpretation.
So a really simple example would be one of the 10 commands is not to commit murder.
And in the 7 of the Mount Jesus reaffirms that.
But he also applies it to hatred and slander.
So he widens and deepens the commandment.
So he's affirming it, but also widening and deepening it.
In doing so though, he's probably making it less easy to be the kind of thing you could put in a rule book.
It isn't more about the heart and it's about attitudes.
But he's not loading the bar.
Frankly, if the commandment is just to not murder, I'm fairly confident that I'm going to get through my life without breaking that one.
If the commandment is not to hate anybody or to slander them, that's harder.
So to what Jesus and the Testament do is often reaffirming, but also applying in a slightly different way,
the teaching of the Old Testament.
Next slide.
Yeah, so we're going to look at the second part of this now.
And actually, well, the first of all, the good news is if we look at this in New Testament eyes, this is exactly picked up and reaffirmed in the New Testament.
So it's a very important statement.
And I've said that, I think probably for three kinds of reasons.
First of all, because it kind of unique, I suspect, to Christians and Jews that you would think that way.
After all, if you're an atheist, this verse doesn't work, does it?
Because I thought there's no God that we can't be created in the image of them.
So that's no good. I'm not sure about other religions, but it feels that kind of a unique thing.
And it has important implications for how we treat other people.
If everybody, whoever they are, are created in the image of God.
And this is after the fall, remember?
So it might be marred a bit by sin, but nevertheless, they are created in the image of God.
That's very important.
And that's different from where you would kind of be if you're an atheist.
I remember having a conversation with an atheist.
Actually, I think it was in a wine bar in Budapest, but that's another story.
And he was a lovely guy.
And he actually had some great values and was telling me about things he felt strongly about.
And I said to him, I think that's great that you believe and hold all that stuff.
I said, my problem is, I don't think actually atheism gives you a basis for that.
You think these things, but you don't have an underpinning for that that would explain it.
I mean, let's be specific. Let's pick the issue of racism.
So why as I a Christian, why should I as a Christian not be racist?
Well, do reason straight.
Well, first of all, this one is that every human being is created in the image of God.
And secondly, that Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
So it is absolutely forbidden to me as a Christian on the highest authority to be a racist.
Now, I'm not told suggesting that atheists are racist.
Some may be, some may be not.
But they don't have that kind of authority for not being racist.
Often it's a kind of gut feeling that that's not the way I should treat people.
We have authority for doing it.
I think there's also a kind of personal thing.
If I'm created in the image of God, then, and Paul talks about it, you know, I need to put on.
I need to kind of live up to that.
I need to express some of that.
I need to put on the new me that comes from God.
I need to be expressive of that.
Just when I sin, part of what I do is actually, I'm kind of defacing God's image.
So I need to live up to something as well as the way I treat every other human being.
Next slide, please.
So this is about the covenant and the rainbow.
Now, covenant's an interesting word.
And I guess that it's probably a word that you don't come across outside of church.
Unless you happen to work for law firm or in property or to do with kind of contracts and stuff like that.
But that exception is actually a clue to the meaning of the word covenant because it is simply defined.
A covenant is a formal and serious agreement or promise.
So it's something that's intended to be binding.
But it's important to how we understand our relationship to God.
Let me put it this way.
I'll say one other thing first.
I actually Google this.
It was quite interesting just how much stuff came out of it.
Some people have problems committing.
And based on my Google search, I would say it seems to be more often men than women.
But anyway, there's a lot of stuff out there.
So some people have it hard committing in relationships.
God does not have commitment issues.
God seems happy to commit.
But it's important to understand that if I can put it this way, God doesn't just say to you, I love you.
He says to you, will you marry me?
And there's a difference between the two because marriage is about covenant.
And it takes the thing to the next level.
I noticed too that this covenant, which I say covenant with all creation, never again to repeat the great flood, has a sign.
And the sign is the rainbow.
Now we've just been celebrating our deeper covenant in breaking bread.
And the signs of that covenant are the bread and the wine.
And as I said, it's also I think a sign where our covenant goes further is that the rainbow is something you look at.
The bread and the wine are something you consume.
You take part in it.
So we are more involved.
So it is another level in relation to covenant for Christians.
Next slide.
I don't know if anybody else can remember.
The opening scene in the film Witness, which came out in 1985, and it starred Harrison Ford.
And the opening scene is a field of corn kind of blowing gently in the wind.
And obviously there's music and it started to get the kind of credits up of who the editor was and all that sort of stuff is rolling on.
And then some people kind of emerged coming through the corn and they're all dressed in kind of period Dutch dress from a few centuries ago.
But you know, big hats and women have got bonnets on.
And then you see a kind of horse and buggy and all the rest of it.
And you're thinking, I'm watching a period drama.
And then this banner comes up across it and it says Pennsylvania, 1984.
You think, well, truly that's a mistake, surely that would be 1784.
But then, you know, the scene becomes clear and it was about an image community in Pennsylvania and the film.
But it's a very striking opening scene.
And there's something about that in this story because on the one hand, this is something very, very ancient.
Really, you know, we're still kind of in prehistory with Noah.
So this is something very ancient, but also something totally modern.
Because actually what happens in this rather sorted story is repeated in one form or another regularly.
Because Noah gets drunk and because he's drunk, he does things that he wouldn't otherwise do.
He's uninhibited and he behaves disgracefully.
And because he's drunk, somebody takes advantage of that.
And that's a story that's being repeated in the modern day.
This might be very ancient, but it's also incredibly contemporary.
There is a suggestion that there's something even darker in this story.
I mean, the story is not a nice story, but even darker in it.
If you read a verse like Leviticus 18 at verse 6, and if you read it in something like the new living translation,
or even in the NIV, it says something like, you shouldn't have sex with a close relative.
That's kind of what it says.
If you took a different translation, one that aiming to be much more literal capture, the original language,
it says you mustn't approach a close relative to uncover their nakedness.
So in other words, uncovering nakedness was a kind of figure of speech for sexual activity.
So is there something even darker in this story?
Now that's conjecture, and so we really don't know.
But even if that's not right, this is still what hand does, it's still very unpleasant.
I read something on our government's website,
And it's a statement published in 2019, and it says no one should have to suffer the immense distress caused
of having intimate pictures about them posted online without their consent.
In fact, that's led to an act in Parliament.
And OK, Ham doesn't have a smartphone on the internet.
That's pretty much what he's doing.
You know, he's seen something and he's gone out and talked about it.
This is very unpleasant.
Next slide.
In contrast, his two brothers behave impeccably.
And this must have been a little tricky to do, but walk backwards into the tent with a blanket
and kind of look in the other way and then cover the old man up.
And I was thinking about it, you know, obviously they epitomize, don't they, the fifth commandment,
they honor your father and your mother.
But I was thinking this.
Treating somebody with respect when they've behaved respectfully is just good manners.
Treating somebody with respect when they've behaved disgracefully is grace.
And these two display considerable grace.
We have another story, a story in the New Testament, in John 8, about Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.
And she's brought before him and probably ever be staring at her.
I mean, the whole thing is, again, deeply unpleasant.
And Jesus averts his eyes.
You know, he bends down in roots in the ground.
He refuses to stare at her.
And he forgives her.
And that truth is grace.
And I want to stay in this story for a while because it kind of comes back to what I said earlier about what Jesus does with the law.
See, the Pharisees, and this has all been, it's not really about the woman at all, it's all about how can we get Jesus.
They've got this great plan and it's, it's tales you lose, heads we win Jesus.
That's what they've got it because either Jesus will say, well, we've got to pull the law here and the poor woman's got to be stoned,
in which case A, that wasn't happening at the time we don't think.
And Jesus followers would not like that.
And the Romans might not have liked that.
So, or Jesus says, well, you know, forget all about that law, we're not doing that.
In which case they can say to them, you break the law.
And Jesus walks away from either of those things.
He actually upholds the law.
But he also prevents his forgiveness.
And, you know, that's another clue, I think, to the way in which the Old Testament is applied in the new.
And it's always about involves grace.
And it often, too, is linked with the activity of the Holy Spirit.
And I would just say for those who do think that, you know, we should be using the Bible to argue for changes in laws.
There's very little in the New Testament that I can't think of anything that sounds like instructions to parliamentary counsel.
Let me explain what I mean.
If you want to pass an act of parliament in the UK, then someone, usually the government department, has to write instructions for parliamentary counsel.
And parliamentary counsel will draw up an act of parliament or a bill based on that.
And it's a great deal of work and something of a specialist art.
But, you know, some things you can legislate for and some things you can't.
Actually, you know, the New Testament is full of strong advice to us.
You know, Paul, talking about difficulties in the church, says to the church,
you must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Now, that is another raising of the bar.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
This is a raising of the bar.
But it's also not stuff you can make in a rule book.
You know, I'm told that some people, and my list has happened to, but some people will kind of leave Christianity and convert to Islam.
And I think one of the attractions for that, I guess, is that the Islam is easier and you know where you stand.
So you want to be a good Muslim, you've got the mosque on Fridays, you don't eat bacon, you don't drink alcohol,
and you've got a timetable that tells you exactly when you should pray in which direction you should face.
And if you do that lot of stuff, then you're a kind of righteous Muslim.
And we've got love your neighbors as yourself.
Ours is harder.
Ours is harder.
But we have grace in the Holy Spirit to help us do it.
I think it must be time for a bit of CS Lewis.
Next slide.
Oh, no, wait.
I've got this wrong, got the timing wrong.
Have you ever had a fresh start and then been a bit disappointed?
I think I'm sure we all have.
And you know maybe the thing, maybe it was a new relationship, a new job, a new house, maybe a new country that you're living in.
And you think, well, this is really fantastic.
And then actually, it's not as you don't like it, but it's not maybe been all that you hoped for.
And maybe can I say, maybe more controversially, as that happened in a spiritual context as well,
maybe you thought, I'm going to get baptized.
I'm going to get baptized.
This will be wholly different from now on.
And actually that proved harder.
Or maybe had issues and you've been prayed for.
And you really thought this time, I've really seen a great victory over sin or some other problem in my life.
And actually, it's not quite worked out as you'd hoped.
I think if we don't ask Noah that story, it's about exactly what you're talking about.
You know, we got out of the arc.
It's a new start.
And it hasn't been quite what we hoped it would be.
And we're still, I think Noah would say, part of the reason it didn't work out well was because of me.
And I would say, the experience that I've been disappointed, and more often disappointed with me than anybody else.
Now time for some serious thoughts.
It's a wee bit small.
But anyway, I must take care on the one hand never to despise or be unthankful for earthly blessings.
And I think that's true.
I think, you know, often, often you start, here's a source of blessing.
And the good things that we have in life, the people around us are friends, our relationships.
These are things we should be thankful for.
But on the other hand, never to mistake them for the something else of which they're only a kind of copy or echo or mirage.
I must keep alive in myself, the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death.
I must make it the main object of my life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.
And I think that's brilliant.
And that's a much higher authority than C.S. Lewis.
Paul says something similar in Romans 8.
You know, he talks about all creation is groaning as in the pains of childbirth.
I eat a great deal of groaning and a great deal of pain, waiting for the sons of God to be revealed.
And he says, then we also groan.
So we also, as Christians, groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit as a foretaste of the next life as we wait for our final redemption.
Final slide.
And I would say, you know, if you, if what I said about feeling you're a new star and then experiencing disappointment gels with you,
I would just give two bits of advice.
And the first bit is I had talked to God about that.
And the second bit is, remember, that's not how it finishes.
This is how it finishes.
A new heaven and a new earth.
Look, God's home is now among his people.
He will live with them and they will be his people.
God himself will be with them.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
And they will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.
All these things are gone forever.
But, amen.
Mike, back to you.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *