With four young children there is always a mouth with a missing tooth in my house. It reminds me of when I was a kid, writing notes to the Tooth Fairy. For me, a quarter for a tooth just wasn’t enough, so I was leaving notes asking for bigger bills to buy large Star Wars toy sets, G.I.Joe toy sets, bikes… you name it. Honestly, what was the Tooth Fairy thinking leaving a quarter?! Yet, with every tooth I received the same yield, a single quarter under my pillow. It’s like the Tooth Fairy couldn’t read, or was too busy for my notes. My belief in the Tooth Fairy let me down because she has no power. Actually, faith or belief (whichever word you’d prefer to use) has no power, either. There is only one source of power that truly has the ability to help us, and it’s vitally important we know the truth, rather than a fairytale, so that we can get connected with it.
Thankfully we were in my neighbourhood and coming close to my house. I was a young teen, maybe 14, and there I was sitting in the car with my uncle sharing the Gospel with him. He was not happy about it at all. He hit breaks, pulled over, and told me to be quiet or get out and walk home (not a really huge penalty since I could almost see my house from where we were). But, it wasn’t the personal threat, it was the rejection of the Gospel that fuelled my response.
Nerf darts are flying everywhere. I try my best to dash through the area, but I find that the entire church basement is setup like a war zone, filled with grade 6 boys shooting at each other with their nerf guns while playing some version of Capture The Flag. Not too long into the game, suddenly a number of Rubbermaid containers are emptied into a corner, and now “mobile tanks” move past me as a barrage of darts fly past my knees making the containers sound like a set of drums. When the party’s over, while we drive home, my son gets my attention and summarizes his 12 year old birthday party to me. He says, “Best birthday party, every!” Great summary. It’s a lot like the summary we find in today’s text.
As a husband and a dad of four, I’ve had some awesome moments to get really excited about. More exciting than any other moment in my life is the moment when I changed from being considered an enemy of God to being considered His friend. Today’s video/audio is filled with reasons why we can get excited about our faith in Jesus. (Heads up, it’s also my first attempt at green screen!)
It’s about 1am or so, I’m dizzy from the event I just brought the youth group back from, the last teen was just picked up and now I’m standing all alone in the church foyer looking at a big puddle on the carpet from a new leak in the church’s roof. Tomorrow’s Sunday, I definitely need to take care of this now. But, it’s ok, because I know who to call for help. One of our board members is always eager to step up whenever there’s a crisis. He responds to my phone call and we clean the mess in under an hour. His example of hard work and his willingness to always help has inspired me from my years as an intern until today as a lead pastor. Examples of faith and faithfulness are worth hanging onto. Just like Abraham’s example…
I couldn’t believe how quickly he did it! Within two weeks, my friend totally renovated his basement from just bare, concrete walls to fully functional family room. He’s got a talent that I was completely lacking! But, I’m not completely lacking it anymore because my friend has become my example – he’s volunteering to show me how to frame, run the electrical, drywall, and everything else I need to do. I’m learning by example, and it’s a lot of fun. Similarly, there’s a man named Abraham in the Old Testament that had a talent that I completely lacked. His talent was so great that God chose to reward him. But, there’s no reason for anyone to be completely lacking in his talent. Everyone can follow Abraham’s example and receive the same reward.
A friend wanted to do something extravagantly nice for us, so she gave my wife and I tickets to see a musical. Additionally (she felt this second part was less valuable), there was an offer of free babysitting cast into the gift. (As parents of four, we can tell you that babysitting, alone, is an extravagant gift!) The only condition was the requirement to get ourselves to the theatre where the musical was playing. Now that’s an easy condition to meet! Similarly, God wanted to do something extravagantly nice for you, so He offered you friendship. He also gave you one condition: you need to show up at the location where the friendship is happening (namely, you need to believe in Jesus). As this particular passage of Romans is concluded, you’re going to see that God’s free gift of friendship is both inclusive (freely given to everyone) and exclusive (there’s only one way to accept the friendship).