Dec 4, 2016 Sermon "God Never Gives Up On Us" ; sources Isaiah 11: 1-10 and Matthew 3: 1-12 (Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19 also echoes same idea)
So let me start with a disclaimer;… that I’m not a NY Jets fan.
But I have to say it was sad to hear what the Jets QB said to the media a few weeks ago.
After several bad performances, Ryan Fitzpatrick declared that he believed that the management and coaches of the team,…
had given up on him.
Fitzpatrick had just produced some very poor performances in several previous games.
And, the fact of the matter is, Fitzpatrick was never more than a mediocre QB to begin with.
But the idea of those above you, or others around you, giving up on you can undermine your self-confidence at the least,…
and devastate you at the worst.
A few weeks ago, I gave a message that ‘we shouldn’t give up on God’.
We shouldn't give up on trusting in God’s love and care for us.
We shouldn’t give up on knowing that, through Christ, God always forgives us.
We shouldn’t give up on the assurance that God will take us home at the end.
But today’s message is about the other side of that equation.
We need to remember that God never gives up on us!
Advent helps us to prepare to once again tell the story of God coming into the world in the person of Jesus Christ.
God does this for one simple reason - because he loves humanity.
But God also does this in spite of ourselves,…despite our poor performances.
From the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, today we heard of God sending a savior.
As Christians, we believe that he is talking about Jesus Christ.
Isaiah tells how this Messiah will bring the righteousness of God’s goodness to the world.
‘He will bring justice to the poor,….bring equity to the meek of the earth,… strike the earth with the words from his mouth,…and overcome the wicked’.
So these verses pretty clearly tell us the world has a lot of flaws that need fixing.
The poor suffer,….things are unequally bad for the weak,… and wickedness is a real thing.
All this comes about due to the corrupt nature humans have and the effect of sin.
We’ve sinned in what we’ve done and left undone; in thoughts, words and deeds.
Isaiah also tells how God wants all disparities reversed,…even within the world of nature.
“The wolf shall live with the lamb,…the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together”.
Those natural antagonisms in nature between predator and prey, reflect what goes on in the world of human beings, where there’s also predators and prey.
In the Gospel, the New Testament prophet, John the Baptist, is even harsher.
He calls everyone to repent and to come to be baptized for their sinfulness.
He singles out the religious elites partly because they are so often hypocrites,…
but also because they think they’re exceptions to the blame;… like we do sometimes.
But his message is clear - Jesus comes to pardon and save all the repentant.
Thus,….this whole story of God coming in and through Jesus the Messiah, means that, in spite of what humanity does,…. God does not give up on us.
God didn’t give up on humanity after Noah and the ark,….
He didn’t give up on the people of Israel when they abandoned him and worshipped the golden calf….
He didn’t give up on them when they banished or killed the prophets he sent,….
He didn’t give up when the humanity he came to save,… killed his Son, Jesus.
And since then God has not given up on humanity,…
not even after centuries of war,..
not even after multiple and numerous holocausts,…..
not even after everything else that is wrong with the world.
God does not give up on us.
God refuses to give up on us;…either as a species or individually.
You know,…people will give up on us all the time.
Coaches, teachers, bosses and others in positions above us can give up on us throughout life.
Even friends, spouses, parents and family members can give up on you.
People have expectations and, when we fall short, they can give up on us and abandon us.
But the thing is, when someone gives up on you, even if they have good reasons for doing so,……it means that there was not enough love there to begin with.
But with God,….the question of enough love is never in doubt.
Because, for some crazy reason, God loves us unconditionally.
He won’t give up on us when we fail in life,….
when we screw up relationships,…
when we sin against him and others,…
or when we give up on being loyal and faithful to Him.
God won’t give up believing in us,….sticking with us,… loving us.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will probably not be the Jets QB next year, but his life will go on.
And even if those above him in management may have given up on him as a QB,
his Father in heaven above him will never give up on him as a human being made in God’s image.
And neither will God ever give up on us.