8th Sunday after Pentecost (A) July 30, 2017 Text: Romans 8:28-30 Rev. Jon Nack
Dear friends in Christ, everywhere you go these days you see “help wanted” signs. Some of them even say, “Immediate Interviews.” Looking at those signs got me to thinking this week, what if we were asked to come in and interview for a place in God’s Kingdom. What would that interview be like?
Imagine sitting across the desk from God as the interview starts. God says, “I see you are applying for a position – not just in my kingdom – but a place in my family. You would like to be adopted as a son – a fellow heir with my only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Why should I choose you?”
And, if it were anything like the kind of interviews most of us have gone through, we would highlight all of our best characteristics and minimize any problems or weaknesses in our character or job history.
“Well God, that’s a really good question. I think that I am uniquely qualified for a position as your child because I’m dedicated. I work well with other people. I like to give 100%. I’m passionate about your family and your kingdom. I really appreciate your work. After all, the work you did in creation is just awesome! And I think I could really add a lot by coming on board as a member of your family. If you’re interested in growth, I’m really good at sales and I could help “sell” the Christian brand. I see what kind of sacrifice your Son made to establish this company and I’d be willing to make some sacrifices here and there for the company, if that’s what it took. I’m basically a kind and loving person at heart and would bring that into my position. I’m an honest person too. You can trust me and when I give you my word, that’s my bond. And because I work well with others, I think I would pretty much get along with everyone else in the company.”
“Oh, I see,” says God. “But I see here on your resume that you were raised by pagan parents and embraced their religion until your 20’s. Since then you’ve held positions with other religions. You’ve tried Hinduism, New Age Meditation, worshipped nature, practiced idolatry worshipping money and sexual perversion, embraced atheism for awhile, and then a short stint mormanism.
There also seems to be a gap in your resume between the Hinduism and New Age Meditation,”
“Oh, that is when I kind of took a break from religion and just took advantage of ‘me time.’”
It doesn’t look like you’ve been able to be consistent of follow through with your commitments.”
“Well, I’ve matured a lot, and most of those religions didn’t appreciate my unique situation and talents. I wasn’t getting fed, so I decided to move on. Besides, I’d rather talk about what I can bring to your company. I’m a natural leader. Once I come on board, we will see an increase in productivity. I know this is a family company. I’ll be the best dad and husband carrying out the company mission right there in the home in a way you will always be proud of! And, by the way, I love what you’ve done with that book that you wrote – the Bible. It is my favorite. I’ll memorize so much of it! And I’ll talk about it so much it will become a best seller! My job performance will set the standard for all the children of God. And you talk about loving one another. Love is my middle name. I won’t let you down!”
How do you think that interview went? Would you be able to convince God to choose you? Our scenario sound ridiculous, doesn’t it? It is ridiculous because God knows all. He knows our weaknesses. He knows that everything we do is tainted by sin. He even knows that we are going to fail in the future. We might not want to bring up our sins. But He knows. We can’t hide them from Him. If our position as an heir in His family was based upon our qualifications and goodness, then we would never get chosen.
But the good news is that it isn’t about us and what we have brought or will bring to the table. God doesn’t look at our past performance or our future potential when deciding whether to adopt us as sons. If He did, our past performance would be a pretty bleak indicator of what might be expected out of us in the future.
But instead, God chose us out of love and because of His faithfulness. That is precisely what He told the children of Israel when explaining why they should be chosen out of all the peoples of the earth as His old testament covenant people. It was because of His love that they were chosen. God had made a promise to Abraham, long before they were even born. Their position as privileged people of the covenant had nothing to do with their job performance. God made that choice and promise before they were even born. And it was based not in the Israelites qualities, after all, they were just a small and insignificant people. (Abraham himself was an idolater.) The choice was made purely as an expression of God’s undeserved love.
And so it is with us. That is what predestination means. God chose you before the creation of the world in Christ Jesus. He chose you not because of what you would bring to the table, but to fulfill His purpose. And that purpose was that by God’s grace and power, you would be conformed to the image of His Son. In His mercy, your sins are forgiven. Paul himself says, “Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” And God has justified you in Christ Jesus – making you Holy by the washing of rebirth in the Holy Spirit. It is because Christ died, rose again, and is interceding for you, that you are Holy.
God’s choice is not about your qualities. You are simply a sinner, just like me. You are underserving to be chosen by God and made and heir in His kingdom. But God has done precisely that. It is all His Word. He chose you before you ever took a breath and did anything – good or bad. He chose you before anything you would ever do could be evaluated as good or bad. He did not wait to see what kind of person you would be. He already knew you would bring nothing to the table.
But He brought it all. And He continues to bring it all to the table. There is Christ’s own body and blood given for you for the forgiveness of sins. It is the gift of the heirs of the Kingdom. In Christ, that is what you are. And you have been chosen according to His purpose. And that is as a testimony of the grace and mercy of God. For you will take your place at the table – you will take your place in the line of God’s sons and daughters, and Christ will be the first – He will be at the head of the line. Behind Him are all that God has chosen in Grace. And all God’s sons and daughters are and will be living proof of the loving and merciful nature of God. And nothing can take us from that purpose in Christ. For we bear witness to God’s goodness despite any trials and hardships that come away. They cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And love is for you, from the beginning of time and for all eternity. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.