Christ Has Done The Work For Us
“Christ Has Done The Work For Us”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 2, 2017
Readings: Isaiah 2:10-17, Psalm 89:1-18
From the very beginning, we’ve been given everything that we need to be fulfilled in the image of our Creator. From the very beginning, God created us in His image and likeness. Most of us probably struggle with the thought that we’re like God. We’re not God but we’re like Him. We have the potential of doing what He has done. This causes our mind to almost short circuit when we think of our God-given potentials. The problem with most of us is we think we have to do it ourselves and when we achieve something, we become arrogant and proud. We become very difficult to get along with because we think we know everything. This is very pronounced in the society we live in today. Everybody thinks they know everything and this causes disharmony. Today’s lessons warn us about such attitude. Isaiah 2:2 tells us that “In the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains and will be raised above the hills, and all the nations will stream to it”. This does not talk about the Church as a structure or an organization, but about God’s Kingdom. Man has established his own kingdom. He has built what he thinks will bring honor to him. There’s a building in the Middle East that’s almost a mile high and we boast and brag about this. We’ve built artificial lakes in the desert and constructed tall buildings around these lakes to show that we are smart. We’ve built airplanes that can fly 800 passengers at a time and for many hours, allowing us to get from one part of the world to another. It boggles the mind what man has been able to create, and now we think we can handle every problem that comes our way. We’ve come to this point, but in Isaiah 2, we are told that a day will come when all these things will collapse. God will bring them down because He is a jealous God. Only He is the source of all things. We think we built this mile-high building, but God is telling us that we didn’t do it out of our own ability but have taken from what He has given us. We take full credit for what God has enabled us to do. It’s like accomplishing a great feat and then somebody else takes credit for it.
This is the society we live in today and Scripture says all these will pass away. Revelation talks about fallen Babylon which represents cities that will be destroyed when judgment comes upon them. Their pearls, fine linens and wealth will be gone and they will be laid waste “in one hour”. What does a concrete building give that is beneficial to life? How many high rise buildings do we have today, and yet at the same time we are being prepared when these buildings may collapse in an earthquake? In the Gospel, Jesus said “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is stability. Jesus said He did not come to bring peace but to establish the truth. When Jesus said He did not come to bring peace but the sword, He didn’t mean He will cause people to fight one another. We need to have faith and confidence in God. He will not fail. When a parent loves his children more than God, it’s wrong. God should be no. 1. He’s the source of everything.
Peace based on compromise is false peace. True peace is only based on the truth. The truth is what brings peace, even in conflicts within families. When you speak the truth based on the Word of God, it may sometimes seem that you’re putting people down. It’s not because you don’t respect them, but because you’re putting your confidence in what God says and not on anything else. Sometimes there’s a battle going on in the midst of confusion. You’ve heard me say that I choose not to be on Facebook. I’m not comfortable with it. I believe that it’s not for men. I’ve been criticized for this, but somehow God puts these things in your heart. Recently, the main guy in Facebook said that Facebook will soon replace the Church. Now I know why I don’t have a Facebook account. It becomes wrong when it replaces our relationship with God. We spend time in Facebook knowing about everybody else, but do we spend the same amount of time knowing God? It’s called prayer. People have replaced time that could be devoted to prayer with time on social media, communicating things that aren’t really important. We’ve allowed the society around us to control us and dupe us. There’s some good in Facebook and social media; I don’t deny it. But many times we are led to believe that these are things we can’t do without.
We have a tremendous gift from God. Romans tells us today that the whole focus is on humility because God has given us everything in Christ. Romans 6 tells us that “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death”. If we don’t understand this, it could lead to confusion and even our destruction. What God wants us to understand is that if we died with Christ, and He did it for us, not for Himself. He took all our personality, all that we are, and all of our sin unto Himself. He went to the cross in our place. This was God’s plan for us. We were with Christ on the cross. When He died, we died with Him. If we don’t understand this, we won’t realize that we have conquered. In that death, Christ came against everything that held us in bondage – sin, iniquity, death. Christ died so that we can conquer them and then He arose on the third day showing that He had overcome all the forces of evil. If we were with Him when He died, we were also with Him when He resurrected. It was also our resurrection, meaning at that moment the power of God was given to us and we overcame all the forces of evil in Christ. We are now conquerors and overcomers because of Christ. If we don’t understand this, we’d go on being enslaved to sin and to the things around us – to fear, stress and anxiety – because we don’t realize that we are now conquerors in Christ. We have died to sin. Sin no longer has power over us unless we give in to it.
The book of Colossians is a very powerful writing of St. Paul and we should all know this book. Here is life itself. “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and ask that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10). St. Paul’s desire is for us to know who we are and to know what God has given us so that we won’t be deceived by the world around us. “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:21-22). Who or what causes us to be holy and blameless? It’s not our work, prayer or good deeds. Christ did this when He died on the cross for us. We became holy and blameless in the sight of God because of Christ’s sacrifice. It’s a gift to us. Most of us don’t understand this such that when temptations come, we succumb and are overcome by them. We find ourselves in bondage to these things when we’ve been set free and given new life. “….if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and moved away from the hope of the gospel….” (Colossians 1:23). We get hope by listening to what God is telling us. Christ died for us and in that death, we were with Him. When He resurrected, we came back with new life and now we can walk in a manner pleasing to God. This truth should be deeply entrenched in us. It’s not us because we can’t do it. We don’t have to do it. Jesus already did it for us.
This is a warning to us. “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Our life is in Christ. You won’t get that life by getting a degree from a university. It won’t give you life and wisdom because these come from Christ and are given to us as gifts. Don’t be deceived. Don’t allow the worries of life to take you captive. Don’t worry about your needs because God will supply them. Yes, we may go through moments of testing but the truth is still there, and if we hold on to that truth, He will not fail us. When He says that by His stripes we are healed, it’s true. We are healed. Yes, sickness may come and hit us, yet if we believe, out of our innermost being shall flow rivers of living water that will quicken our mortal flesh to life. I have a book entitled “Inward Pulse” written by a medical doctor who doesn’t claim to be a Christian. In his book, he wrote about people who were in very critical condition, yet for some reason they overcome. He said that there’s an inward pulse in a man that causes him to overcome and conquer disease. This writer is not even a Christian, yet he understands. This inward pulse is the life we have in Christ.
It’s not us; it’s Him. Many times we take credit for the work He has done. What I want us to understand in today’s lesson about humility is that Christ has done the work for us. All we have to do is walk in it. I challenge you to show me one university in the world that has a Department of Wisdom. There’s none because wisdom comes from one source – God. They can’t give us what God alone can give us. He will tell us things others can’t. God gave man the wisdom to build airplanes that can fly with 800 passengers. Science used to be against God. Now scientists are beginning to realize that it’s all because of God. We have that wisdom and ability but first we have to be humble and acknowledge that He is the source of life and all that we are. In Him all things are possible. Colossians says over and over again “in Him”, “through Him” and “by Him”, sharing with us all that He has given. We can never fail if we walk with Him. The most powerful things in life are not because of us but because of Him.
Did we really go to the cross? Yes, we did; not physically but spiritually. God put us there so sin couldn’t hold us anymore. We have died to sin. St. Paul wanted us to know and realize this. He prayed that we will have knowledge of all that Christ has done for us so that we can rise above everything that may come against us in this life. Our hope is in Christ. It’s not about who the President is or how good the economy is. That’s not life. Life comes from Christ. If you stop and analyze things, Adam in the garden had more than we have today. He had it all. He didn’t have to worry about what to wear or eat; didn’t have to deal with vehicular traffic. He had great wisdom that gave him the ability to name all the animals and he was in dominion over everything. That’s what God intended for us; what He created us to be. But it will only come when we realize that He has set us free and given us new life. We have hope.
So today we look at humility. We didn’t do anything; He did it all for us. We give Him the thanks, the honor and the glory. We begin Ordinary Time by realizing that it is in Him that all things are possible; it’s not because of us. It’s Him; everything is dependent upon Him. If we get away from that truth, we will face failure and sorrow. If we walk with Christ, it’s like we’re in a bubble, protected from all that could snatch us away from God. The enemy flees because of Christ. Yes, there are people with the gift of healing but it is Jesus who does the healing.
On this third Sunday of Ordinary Time, let’s trust God and all that He has done for us. He died for us. Sin no longer has power over us. As Christ died, so did we. Christ conquered sin and we died to sin. Let’s put our faith and confidence in Him and not in our ability. Several nights ago, I don’t know if I was dreaming but suddenly I understood why God allowed sin into the world. God said that if He pampered people by not allowing sin into their lives, they would be weak and wouldn’t be able to do anything. But if He allows people to face sin and overcome it, then they would be strong. He wants us to become like Him – overcomers. The conflicts will come but when we overcome, we will never succumb to it again. Look at our society today. As parents we spoil our children, giving them everything they want – Ipads, IPhones and other gadgets – and they just sit there and play. They never have conflict. We take care of everything for them and this has made the younger generation mostly worthless. They can’t face conflicts and difficulties. They feel entitled, like we owe it to them to give them everything they want. We haven’t trained them to be overcomers. Christ wants us to be conquerors. We may face difficulties but they are there to strengthen us, not to destroy us; to give us the confidence that God in us is greater than anything in this world. When this becomes a reality to us, we can walk through a storm or on water and we can be in the midst of a fiery furnace and not be burned because God us in us. We have to be humble to trust Him. Let’s put our confidence in Him and what He has done for us.