O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB  
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    Rev. Cameron Schnarr

Beautiful Savior Lutheran School

Lutheran Church Canada - What do you believe?

LCC - Lutheran Church Canada

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, Canada
Who Deserves Love and Mercy?

Who Deserves Love and Mercy?

Based on Mt. 5:38-48

Preached on February 23, 2014

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Fellow baptized saints, what do you deserve? There was a woman who worked at a pizza store that sold fountain pop, you know the kind where if you buy the big fountain cup you get unlimited refills. She had a customer come up to her one day with a rather frustrated look on her face. "Excuse me! Your machine is out of Coke. Go back there and change it immediately!" The woman was aware of the problem. "I am sorry, ma'am, you're right, but we are completely out of Coke and we won't be getting anymore until tomorrow. But all of the others flavours are available." "Then I want a refund." "Well, I'm sorry but I can't do that," said the woman. "Well why not?" "Because that - is a water cup." What do you deserve? Do you think you deserve a good life? Over the last sixty years there has been an interesting shift in the way people think and what they have come to expect for their lives. And you guessed it, it isn't healthy. Because we all expect the best. We demand it. Think that we deserve it. That we have earned it. How? By hard work? No, not really - oh we think we've worked hard. We think we are awesome and that everyone should be pleased with all the work we've done. But the truth is we don't want to work for it. We think we deserve it simply by being us. Because we are special. Worthy. And No, we're not willing to wait for it. We want it now. Right now. Because after all, everyone else has it - or so they want us to think - and we deserve a better life than they do, don't we? Who deserves a good life? Oh, everyone pastor. That's the answer you're looking for isn't it? The truth is we see ourselves as the most deserving, and are quick to see why other people are not. We confidently walk around saying that all people deserve to be loved, when in reality we enjoy standing over them as judge, determining who is REALLY worthy of OUR love - who really deserves it - this great conditional love that we have to give. And so we end up giving it to few, really only the ones that love us back. Now, as you can see, this mentality is bad enough when it comes to loving our neighbour, but the most dangerous thing is that we often apply it to Christ. We walk around saying Jesus is my Redeemer, One who has purchased me with His own blood, when in reality we treat Him more like a therapist. Someone who is going to fix all my problems and make me happy, healthy, well-adjusted, popular and rich. This is what we demand, what we deserve. We don't want Him as Lord, ruling over our lives. We just want Him to clean up our mess. To give us what we want. And we certainly don't want to wait until the Last Day, because we want it now. And if Jesus can't do that, well, then maybe I can't believe in Him, because this is the way I demand to be loved, the way I demand to be saved. Who deserves a good life? See there's that funny thing about the word ‘deserve': it requires that you do something or have or show qualities that are worthy of punishment or reward. You get what you deserve for who you are and what you have done. And this does not happen in the court of your mind where you sit as judge and proudly pat your own back, but in front of the King of the universe by the Word of His Holy Law. So let's see. Let's see what Christ says you really deserve. His Law says, "Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Nope, you don't do that. "And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well." Nope, you don't do that. And finally, "Love your enemies - your enemies - and pray for those who persecute you." No, you don't do that either. Do you think you deserve a good life? Is that really what you deserve? Because just like me, and every other person that walks this earth, if there is something that you deserve from God - it is eternal punishment - for you keep breaking the Law. But do not despair, for there is far more going on here in our text than meets the eye. Yes, the Law Christ speaks here crushes you, it must, but it also describes what He will do for your salvation - how He will fulfill the Law for you. And not just in some vague way, but step by step - from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Cross of Calvary. When Jesus preached this sermon, He was looking forward in His mind's eye to His own Passion and Crucifixion, describing what He would do and how He would fulfill the Law for you. Do you want to understand His love and mercy? The true Spirit of His Law? Then He will tell you. "Do not resist the one who is evil." Jesus did not resist His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. He did not fight, and He did not call upon His Father's legions, as He said, "How then should the Scriptures be fulfilled?" How then should I fulfill the Law for you? "If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." As Jesus awaited trial before the Sanhedrin, the soldiers blindfolded him and struck him repeatedly saying, "Prophesy, who is it that struck you?" "If anyone would sue you, [that is take you to court] and take your tunic,[h] let him have your cloak as well." After being struck, Jesus was taken to court where they stripped Him of His clothing, and cast lots to see who would get it. "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." Found guilty though He was innocent, Jesus carried His own death device through the streets of Jerusalem. He carried your sins in His body, and your punishment on His shoulders. He walked that mile for you. To put your sin to death. "Give to the one who begs from you." Lifted up on the cross between criminals, Jesus promised paradise to the thief who begged to Him, though the man certainly did not deserve it. "Love your enemies." Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus did not die for those who loved Him, but for His enemies, for a world of sinners that were against His Father. "Pray for those who persecute you." Though He endured all of this for you, and though He deserved none of it, He did not once think about Himself, for His only thought was for you. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Jesus' Word here isn't some arbitrary set of rules. It is what Jesus does to save you. How He fulfills all righteousness in your place. The only One who is worthy - the only One who deserves reward - whose work is truly in keeping with the Father's will - This is the One who dies for the unworthy. This is the One who is punished for your self-entitled ways. You do not deserve it, but your God is merciful. You are forgiven. In Christ you are made new. Perfect. And not just up to today, but a complete life. For Christ was born, He suffered. He died and was buried. And He rose again. He has fulfilled the good life for you. You are His. (big pause) New. (then nod for a bit). That is what your life in Christ is. New. New meaning. New focus. New relationships. Because it is a fulfilled life. Fulfilled by God's love for you. Fulfilled by God's love through you. And this great love that God works in you is not an emotion or a feeling. It is not simply goodwill or a firm wish for one's well-being. It is action. Jesus suffering and dying for you. Suffering and dying for those people in your life that are difficult to love. Those who hurt you. Those who shame you. All those people who don't deserve it. Christ calls you to action for these people as well. Action for the difficult. The ones He bled for. The ones He hurt for. No, they don't deserve it - which is what will show God's love. So what do you think, do you deserve a good life? No, but one is secure for you in Christ. An eternal one. One that will never blemish or fade. One that frees you to look to your neighbour's needs and act through God's love. One that can never be stolen from you, for it is kept safe for you, kept perfect for you, with your Father who is in heaven. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Rev. Cameron Schnarr