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Right Belief: Making a Case that it Doesn’t Really Matter (Mark 8:27-38)

14 Sep

 

Have you ever had this experience? When people discover that you come here to church, you get a response like, Yeah, I believe in God but I’m just not into the church thing.

Most people are pretty moral, trustworthy, knowledgeable, faithful, people of good character. Society usually thinks well of them, and most people respect them and hold them in high regard. Most of us believe in God and many would call Jesus “Messiah.”

So what’s the problem? If they’re good people, believe in God, not bothering anyone, is anything wrong?

Most of us, honestly, would say, “Can’t think of much wrong.”

Perhaps that’s the problem. We’re focusing on what we think instead of what God thinks. Peter gets the answer right, “You’re the Messiah,” and though Jesus tells him he got the answer right, he also ends up telling Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”  So apparently, believing in God and recognizing who Jesus is may not be what God is after.

From a human perspective, we try hard to do the right things and believe the right things. But again, according to Jesus’ response to Peter, God’s perspective is different.

Peter was the first disciple to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but was also the one who Jesus called Satan and who denied even knowing Jesus later. When our emphasis is limited to correct beliefs, our minds are on human things.

And yet we still pour all our effort into climbing this ladder of righteousness. And Jesus calls us Satan. And Jesus is still denied by us. And in trying to save our lives by believing correctly, we lose them. Our minds are still set on human things.

So we try even harder –proclaim the highest morality in God’s name, put a fish on our car, avoid any semblance of hypocrisy, maintain the highest integrity, tell others about Jesus, become a model for others.And Jesus still calls us Satan. And Jesus is still denied by us. And in trying to save our lives by believing correctly, we lose them. Our minds are still set on human things.

The problem isn’t our effort at believing correctly. The problem is that we think our correct belief counts. We think this belief is what ultimately makes us right before God. But no matter how much we get it right, how high we climb, how good we are, Jesus still calls us Satan. And Jesus is still denied by us. And in trying to save our lives by believing correctly, we lose them. Our minds are still set on human things.

As long as we are measuring our own beliefs we are setting our minds on human things, not divine things. And our best efforts end up with our lives denying the things of God.

Jesus reveals the divine things, the things of God. God comes down and meets us in our brokenness, helplessness, unbelief. God comes among us, separate from our correct beliefs. God offers forgiveness and life in a way unconnected from our own righteousness. And God loves us not because of our beliefs, but because it is the divine thing.

God simply loves us. That is the divine thing. This is the role of the Messiah—to put skin on the depth of that love. That is how God makes us new. That is the thing that counts. That can never be changed by good character or right believing. God’s love for you. The divine thing. This is a gift from God revealed through Jesus, the Messiah.

Broken people, sinful people, unworthy people, unbelieving people, cast-off people, people on the edges, even you are loved by God. Because it is God’s way, the divine thing.

That is where God meets us. That is how God comes to us. That is how God makes us new. That is the good news of Jesus the Messiah. That is how God is entering our lives even now. Love.

Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the religious people, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

God’s love is costly. But it is life. So we give up the life of human thinking and pick up our cross of love, follow Jesus in the way of loving others, and we experience the gift of our lives being given to us through love.

The fact of being loved by God is our experience of the divine thing. That love oozing out of us for the sake of others is setting our minds on the divine thing.

Calling Jesus the Messiah is the right thing. But following that Messiah in love is the divine thing: loving our enemies, loving those we disagree with, loving those who hurt us, loving those who don’t deserve it. And that is the love that God pours on you continuously. That is the love God has for you. The divine thing is love.

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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Sermon

 

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