March 11, 2018-Life in Crisis

There is a crisis; we read about it in the OT lesson and it is referred to again in the Gospel appointed for today.

 It was an infantile moment of speaking against Moses and the Lord, because of hunger and thirst.

 Tertullian the ancient church Father noted that, “Although they were nourished with divine supplies, nevertheless (they) were more mindful of their belly and their gullet then of God.” (ANF 3:679 LSB Note)

Our offended Heavenly Father sent serpents to demonstrate what a real crisis looked like, and their offense subsequently cost many lives.  But even then there was a way out, and redemption was offered…

 It might have been that the eternal Father was offering an opportunity for his children to strengthen their character.

 Some of us remember the days when we needed a strengthening of our character, especially when our character required a little corporal punishment to get there.

 And how many of us figured a robust wailing would lessen the blows of the paddle to our backside, for many of you it might have worked…in other cases you may have not been so lucky.

 In those cases where you were not so lucky, instant crying likely elicited the tough parental response of,

“Stop crying… (and join with me if you know it) or I’ll give you _________ __ __ _____!

 Well the Israelites are unnecessarily crying and Yahweh indeed gave them something to cry about.

Well humanity did not stop there with their unwarranted and needless wailing did they?

 Apparently some people have not experienced much in the way of underemployment, stress and real pain in their lives, because there seems to be many people crying about being underemployed, stressed out and in pain, which simply may not be entirely true.

 Now some of these examples are extreme, but there are people today thinking like this interestingly enough.

 For example; some people think they can borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars, to get a college degree that teaches them nothing about getting an actual job that anyone would be willing to pay them to do.

 Then this same group of people parade in the streets that they have too much debt and claim someone else should pay it off for them.

They also want us to give them a job that pays 6 figures year with a degree in 17th century underwater basket weaving art history.

 Then there are the individuals who think a biblical world view is hate speech, and anyone that espouses such views causes incessant stress in their lives, even when they’ve never heard the bible read wholly.

 So it is incumbent upon society to provide tax payer funded safe spaces where they can retreat to and never have to hear any opinion about anything other than their own, lest their emotional wellbeing is shattered and their stress levels are increased to unhealthy levels.

 And finally there is a concern amongst some that smoke and or vape, or routinely engage in risky relationship behavior and or X game style extracurricular activity, or even eat to obese levels, that are concerned with a lack of health care being provided to them! 

 After all their personal lifestyle choices should not inhibit our financial ability to care for their healthcare needs.

 The terms of underemployment, stress and pain have been extended to many today that simply don’t deserve this handicap designation.

 Now many of us do know what underemployment feels like and what stress is and how pain interferes with the life we want.

 Underemployment meant taking the job you didn’t want to help get you the job you needed, because bills needed to be paid.

 And I am not talking about bills for a brand new car, a luxury apartment and designer clothes because that’s the normal reward for graduating with a 17th underwater basket weaving art history degree.

 No I mean paying for your city bus pass to get to the awful job, to pay your monthly rent on your efficiency apartment, and the first college loan payment that comes due every month. 

 And no doubt that caused stress, but we realized it was good stress…it meant you had to toughen up under your awful boss’s criticism, because you needed to keep that awful job. 

 It motivated you to watch your budget because banks didn’t forgive debt and it got your butt out of bed on the only day you had off to keep looking for a better job.

Poverty and hunger were always awesome motivators to the inexperienced and lazy!

 Most of us agreed, a little pain never hurt anyone.  Your risk taking was severely mitigated by the high deductibles on meager insurance plans you could afford on the pitiable amount of money that awful job paid, that didn’t come with employee benefits…at least not until you earned them!

 I can’t believe I finally got this old, but I really enjoy being a cranky old man.  Say it with me if you know the phrase,


 Marcy and I were just remembering our first years together the other day.

 Together our pre-tax income was 22,000 a year.  And that included me working two jobs and going to school full time those first two years.

 We payed 395 a month for our little apartment in the big city, ate nothing but PB and J for lunches; Ramen, hot dogs and macaroni for dinners;  And 4 dollar pizzas were our Friday treat if we saved our money!

 And boy did we save our money.  In two years we saved 9,000 dollars for the down payment on our first house and payed of Marcy’s 2500 dollar student loan.

 Now I do remember we did have pain, stress and were definitely underemployed, but so was everyone we knew and a down economy was not gonna change it any time soon.

 So we had a saying, “Put on your big girls panties and deal with it!”

 So, no matter the crisis we faced…we had no choice but to deal with it.

 So what is happening today?  Why do so many people think life should be free of these normal bench marks of living?

 John helps us to see that even those of us that thought we were handling crisis just fine, really weren’t.  Because the crisis is more than just enduring the benchmarks of life, it’s far worse than anything we have ever found ourselves complaining about.

 Verse 19 in particular helps us out.  Our modern translations use the word judgment.  But interestingly enough the Greek word there is Krisis the actual base word for our modern word crisis, which has the meaning of making a critical decision between two options.

 And as we looked at this text this week we realized translating it crisis made sense, “And this is the crisis, the light has come into the world and men loved the dark rather than the light for their works were evil!”

 They had a judgement to make based on two options and chose poorly.

 And if we look back at verse 17 we can also see Krinu, meaning condemn which is in the same vain as Krisis and also connects to the ancient understanding of a Cross, two beams crossed make it a cross.

 The famous blues man Robert Johnson was the father of modern rock and roll.  He was so good the legend of American folklore says he made a deal with the devil.  And where did he make it?, at the crossroads.

Many of his songs seem to reinforce that legend and his lamenting the decision to make a deal with The Devil; With titles like; Hellhound on my trail, Cross Road Blues, Me and the Devil Blues.

 The truth is it was a metaphor for the blues musician who wanted a supernatural ability to woo the ladies and what better way than then perpetuating the myth of dealing with the devil himself.

 In any case Robert definitely crooned about his misgivings for picking the dark over the light, and his crisis of regret became his song in life.

 Awe pastor come on, it’s just a story, who would ever sell their soul to the devil?

 Indeed it is just a story, but don’t think for a second we haven’t all sold our souls to the devil.

 God knows every single one of us would, and every single one of us did.  Oh there wasn’t a contract we signed, but there was a sell out!

 Every time we picked sin over our savior.

Every time we missed being forgiven for something better on the weekend that doesn’t forgive.

 And every time we simply neglected our love for him.

We all did, again and again and again.

 And God, seeing our crisis was no crisis to us at all, just a certain comfort with the darkness of our sins, shined the light of Christ in our World.

 Crisis to God is indeed a judgment, but not to condemn the world, but show them they have a better choice than the one their already stuck with.

 They can stay in the dark, or they can be enlightened by Christ.

 Our crisis became Christ’s Cross so we could live like Jesus.

 Jesus demoted himself to the lowliest of positions any person could occupy, surrendering his glory and living in the humiliation of the lowliest of lifestyles in the lowliest of nations.

 He did what was humiliating because we would never humble ourselves enough.

 He took on our stress beyond all our imagination.  Suffering the insults and abandonment of those he would die for and sweating blood praying for them.

 And finally He took the pain so unbearable it was invented by the implement of His final death.  Excruciating pain, out of the cross pain, pain He didn’t deserve, pain rather meant for all humankind, became His pain instead.

 And therein lays the crisis we are faced with today.  So few know what He did, and are still standing at the cross roads of their sin already choosing to stay in eternal darkness, rather than believe in the light of Christ.

 For those who know he’s forgiven us, our crisis, our crossroads, and our Cross is over.  For Christ’s sake, we live.