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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

October 2021


October 10, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 2: Show Compassion" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 3, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 1: Glorify God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 2021


September 19, 2021  "Gentle Wisdom, or Worldly Ways?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 12, 2021  "Prophetic Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 5, 2021  "A Vision of Our Future" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 2021


August 15, 2021  "Wise Living" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2021


July 4, 2021  "Humility Over Hubris" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2021


June 27, 2021  "Faith Over Fear" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2021


May 30, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 3: :Life and Peace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 23, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 2: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 16, 2021  "The Spirit, Part I: Wisdom and Revelation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 9, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 4: Love and Christ" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 3: Love and God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2021


April 25, 2021  "Love Actually, Part II: Love in Action" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 18, 2021  "Love Actually, Part I: Love and Family" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

Easter, April 4, 2021  "How Does It End?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2021


March 28, 2021  "The King We Weren't Expecting" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 14, 2021  "The Cure for Snake Bite" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2021


February 28, 2021  "Are you Kidding, God?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 14, 2021  "Premature Joy" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 7, 2021  "Need a Liftt?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

January 2021


January 31, 2021  "Are You God's Prophet?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 24, 2021  "God's Annoying Grace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 10, 2021  "Light to See" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 3, 2021  "The Outsiders' Perspective" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2020


December 24, 2020  "Light in the Darkness" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 20, 2020  "Are you a Royal?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 6, 2020  "While You're Waiting..." by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

November 2020


November 15, 2020  "Accepting Your Mission" by Rev. Don Wahlig

November 1, 2020  "The Hope of the Saints" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2020


October 18, 2020  "Whose Image Do You Bear?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 11, 2020  "Righteous Clothing" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2020


September 13, 2020  "The Circle of Grace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

May 2, 2021

“Love Actually, Part 3:  Love and God” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, May 2, 2021, Year B / Easter 4 –  Acts 8:26-40  •  Psalm 22:25-31  •  1 John 4:7-21  •  John 15:1-8

The big idea:  Love is God’s fundamental nature and Jesus showed us that a human life could reveal God’s character by loving one another and thus making God’s love complete.

Application:  Love others to let them see God in us.


What is God like?  And how do you know?

Through the ages, across cultures and religions, this is a question people have always asked.  It’s one of those fundamental questions which at first seems utterly basic, especially to those of us raised in the church. 

You would think that any child in Sunday school would be able to give a sufficient answer.  But as our culture becomes increasingly secular, younger generations are less likely to have been raised in the church than in the past.  So, more and more this question is coming from young adults.  This week I came across one of them, a young man named Dave. 

Dave had written to a Christian website based in Australia called Christianity.net.  Here is how he put the question: 

“I had a bit of a read through your site and can’t seem to find an answer anywhere to what I think you may find a bit of a confronting question, so please understand that I mean no offence, but would just like to get your take on something.”  

Dave went on to say, “Now it’s probably only fair to declare my hand up front as a non-believer, (not really an aetheist as I’m open to the idea of a god, but a non-believer at this point anyway).  So the question is:  Even if god does exist ... how nice a god is he really?  I know that the opinion popular amongst believers is quite good, but, they never really seem to address any of the negatives.  Things like, isn’t he indirectly saying that if I don’t love him that he’s pretty much going to cast me out for eternity?  Seems a bit harsh, you know for a guy with a generous nature that does a few nice things here and there above what plenty of others do. Doesn’t seem too nice to me?”

Signed Dave

Whether Dave knows it or not, he is asking a question that all of us ask at one time or another.  What is God really like?  And what about those “negatives”?

The first place we look for answers is, of course, scripture.  But from the very beginning of the Bible, we get a picture of God that is decidedly mixed.  I’ll give you three examples.

After the glory of creation, things go downhill in a hurry.  Adam and Eve rebel against their loving, but strict creator.  He expels them from the garden.  From that point on, humanity goes off the rails. 

Things get so bad that God decides he has to start again.  In what can only be called genocide, he floods the world.  He wipes out all humankind except for eight people, Noah and his family.

Later, when Pharaoh oppresses the Hebrews, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh refuses to let the Hebrew slaves go.  That leads to the 10th deadly plague in which God kills the first-born children of the Egyptians.  We call that infanticide.

Then, in order for the Israelites to realize the blessing of God’s loving promise of land for his chosen people, God commands Moses and the Israelites to exterminate all the inhabitants of Canaan – men, women and children alike.  Even their animals.  None are to remain alive.

You and I are left to wonder what kind of God is this?  A God of love and blessing on the one hand, and wrath and violence on the other. 

This is what Dave is asking us to address.  He’s confused.  He’s heard Christians talk about Jesus Christ as the revelation of God’s love.  And he wonders how that can be compatible with these other disturbing acts of divine wrath.

If we’re being honest, when we run across these strands of God’s violence, especially in the Old Testament, don’t we ask the same question?

Especially when we compare them to passages like the one we read this morning.  “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love, does not know God, for God is love.”

There it is:  God is love.  So where does the wrath come from?  And how can that possibly coexist with love?

It turns out that not only do they coexist, they’re actually connected.  God’s love and God’s wrath are two sides of the same coin.

Because he loves us, God wants nothing more than to be with us.  In fact, he wants more than that.  He wants to be joined inseparably to us. 

That is the great theme that runs through all of scripture:  God’s constant, relentless pursuit of humanity.  That is what John means by abiding in God and God abiding in us.  God wants to dwell not just with us, but in us.

What gets in the way of that union is sin.  Sin is anything that separates us from God.  Ever since that fateful day when Adam and Eve rebelled against God through disobedience, sin became part of our nature.  To be human, is to sin.

Sin is not neutral.  It always and inevitably causes pain, suffering, even death.  That is why God hates sin.  Sin doesn’t just drive us away from God, it hurts us, and leads us to hurt one another. 

God will not stand for that.  So, in wrath, he judges sin and, especially in the Old Testament, he punishes sinners, sometimes very harshly.  

Let’s look back at our examples.  It was human sin and widespread wickedness that led to the flood.  Pharaoh sinned against God by oppressing his children, the Hebrews.  That led to the deadly plagues and the destruction of his army.      

The Canaanites were also guilty of sin.  They practiced child sacrifice, incest, and ritualized Temple prostitution.  They rejected the witnesses that God placed in the land, including Abraham and his descendants.  Worst of all, they led the Israelites away from worshiping Yahweh in favor of the forbidden practice of worshiping idols.

God judged them and punished them severely.  That’s where people often have an issue.  This is where Dave has an issue, too.

Like Dave, all of us tend to see God’s judgment as cause for fear.  Our most common image of God is that of a heavenly policeman, waiting to pounce whenever we make a mistake and sin, as we all do. 

That’s what scares our friend Dave.  Who can possibly stand in front of a judge like that?

But divine judgment is far more than the punishment of the wicked.  It’s also the good news of salvation for humankind.  In short, God’s judgment is also God’s grace.

As Karl Barth, the 20th century’s greatest Protestant theologian pointed out, God has already chosen us in Jesus Christ.  That is the good news.  It is not something to fear.

Barth calls this the “Christ Event.”  What he means is that, in Jesus, God has already judged us, and he has also judged sin itself.  He poured out his wrath, not on us, but on sin and evil.  Through Christ, God's wrath was ended, and so was the hostility that we created between ourselves and God. 

Jesus tells us and shows us everything we need to know about God.

Because Jesus is truly divine, he is the full revelation of God.  Because Jesus is also truly human, he reveals himself as the true human being who belongs to God, paving the way for us to do the same.

Friends, this is the covenant, the relationship through which you and I are joined inseparably to God and God to us through Christ.  The fact that God chose us in Christ, tells us one thing above all else:  God’s very essence is indeed love.

God offers to all of us the freedom to choose whether or not we will accept God's love for us.  We can accept God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ and live into our reconciliation with God, or we can refuse it.

But what about our friend Dave?  Dave is open to the idea of God, but not a God who dangles the threat of eternal damnation over the heads of those who don’t know him or love him.

        Dave is not a Christian, but he seems to understand what many, if not most Christians believe:  that the choice to accept God’s forgiveness of sin by trusting in Jesus Christ leads to heaven.  Conversely, the decision to refuse God’s forgiveness leads to an eternity spent in the torment of hell. 

Afterall, isn’t that all over scripture?

        Well, it may come as a surprise that there is more room for discussion on that last point than you would think, not least because what you and I call hell is what scripture means as the place where we all go after death to await the final judgment.  

But that is a sermon for another day.

In the meantime, it’s worth remembering that you and I do not make that final judgment.  Only God does.  And God is love.  When we love like God loves us, we cast aside all fear. 

And even more powerfully, loving our brothers and sisters is the proof that we abide in God, and God abides in us.  Just as Jesus shows us what God’s love looks like, so will other people see what God is like by the way we love them. 

That is how people like Dave will come to faith.  Not through threats or fear.  It will happen through love – and love alone.

Do you have some Daves in your life?  Maybe in even in your family? 

We all do.  I’ll bet you worry about them.  I’ll bet you pray for them. 

The real question is how will you love them this week?

 

Last Published: April 30, 2021 2:22 PM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

October 2021


October 10, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 2: Show Compassion" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 3, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 1: Glorify God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 2021


September 19, 2021  "Gentle Wisdom, or Worldly Ways?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 12, 2021  "Prophetic Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 5, 2021  "A Vision of Our Future" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 2021


August 15, 2021  "Wise Living" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2021


July 4, 2021  "Humility Over Hubris" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2021


June 27, 2021  "Faith Over Fear" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2021


May 30, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 3: :Life and Peace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 23, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 2: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 16, 2021  "The Spirit, Part I: Wisdom and Revelation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 9, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 4: Love and Christ" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 3: Love and God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2021


April 25, 2021  "Love Actually, Part II: Love in Action" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 18, 2021  "Love Actually, Part I: Love and Family" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

Easter, April 4, 2021  "How Does It End?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2021


March 28, 2021  "The King We Weren't Expecting" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 14, 2021  "The Cure for Snake Bite" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2021


February 28, 2021  "Are you Kidding, God?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 14, 2021  "Premature Joy" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 7, 2021  "Need a Liftt?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

January 2021


January 31, 2021  "Are You God's Prophet?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 24, 2021  "God's Annoying Grace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 10, 2021  "Light to See" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 3, 2021  "The Outsiders' Perspective" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2020


December 24, 2020  "Light in the Darkness" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 20, 2020  "Are you a Royal?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 6, 2020  "While You're Waiting..." by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

November 2020


November 15, 2020  "Accepting Your Mission" by Rev. Don Wahlig

November 1, 2020  "The Hope of the Saints" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2020


October 18, 2020  "Whose Image Do You Bear?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 11, 2020  "Righteous Clothing" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2020


September 13, 2020  "The Circle of Grace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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