19 July 2020

One of the real things at present is that a fair number of people are running scared. If you are working in an imploding industry you are afraid that on Monday your job will be disestablished. If your industry is moving ahead, you are afraid that you will get negative feedback and be cancelled: turned into an unperson and left without a job or prospects. If you are white and in a city, you are afraid: if you are black you are also afraid. The churches are being burned, and we have nightmares inflicted on us every night on the news.

Isaiah 44:6-8

6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:

‘I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me.
7 ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it;
Yes, let him recount it to Me in order,
From the time that I established the ancient [b]nation.
And let them declare to them the things that are coming
And the events that are going to take place.
8 ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid;
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?
And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none.’”

I usually put the collect from out Anglican friends in on Sunday, but today I need to say something different: and in a season of voting. We have an election in NZ on September 19 and it is getting interesting here. There are those who promote that this candidate and this party will save us: that party or that candidate will ruin us. We should not fear. For our rock is not these: the oldest political party in NZ is just over 100 years. It is God, who predates creation, and will be there when creation ends.

Yes, this is a time of difficulty. Yes, the enemies of Christ want us demoralized. But there is nothing new in the state being against Christ: the gospel generally is proclaimed best against opposition.

And God’s goal is that all peoples are saved and bought to him, not the ephemeral issues relating to false measures of progress.

Romans 8:12-25

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he alrteady sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Note that (despite the prosperity gospel preachers) we are not promised that this world will be won or that creation will be redeemed in our lifetime. That is not our job: nor is it the distribution of justice or mandating kindness and love. Our job is to glorify God in the callings and vocations we have.

We have been chosen and called into a glorious future. The current situation is difficult, yes. We should never deny that, but we should never say that this is all that exists.

That is the counsel of this age, which rejoices in despair. We, instead, are called children of God, by adoption — which, as everyone in the Roman world knew, mattered. For Octavian was adopted by Gaius Julius Caesar to ensure that there were competent heirs of his patrician line, and that allowed him to recruit the Julian legions, win the civil war, and become Imperator, and rename himself Augustus.

Note again that the glory of imperial Rome was nothing compared to that which Moses saw: and what Moses saw was nothing compared to that which we will see.

Do not fear this time. It will pass. Instead, cling to your security, which is in Christ alone.