Sermon Sunday July 26th
8 After Trinity
2 Samuel 11:1-15
God loves us too much to give us what we want . . .
Back from the UK . . . perhaps a certain concern – 9 weeks ‘at home’ . . . homesickness – itchy feet???
Certainly, just this last week I posted this on Facebook . . .
Gifted with one precious day . . .
I believe I would be truly content – if only . . .
I wonder what your . . . if only . . .
I believe I would be truly content – if only . . .and certainly there might be ways for me to get what I want . . . and surely God wants me to have what I want and to be happy??
If I had THAT all would be perfect!
A longing for some thing, or some one, or a career or . . . but of course none of my desires affect just me . . .
How many conflicts in the church and in the home and the wider world have their roots in this longing – this desire – this Sehnsucht as CS Lewis was fond of calling it . . .
So David – Established as King – stands looking over ‘His domain’.
‘I have everything – ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . . .’
But the next moment – he sees – he sends and he takes . . .consumed by his desires
And David epitomises the modern person – trained to consume, but in truth be consumed by our desires . . .we see – we send – we take
In David’s case his desires lead to the death of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, the death of the child conceived, and sees the unravelling of David’s kingship . . .
‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want . . . but if only . . .
And our desires have similar effects – we see . . . a car, a phone, yet another something for the kitchen – we see, we send, we take – without a thought for the land that was taken to provide the metals, as we know locally an Aluminuim smelting plant is required for this sort of thing, most definitely NOT onour doorstep – rather on that of the poor who have no political clout, the streams that were polluted, the people’s displaced, in some cases as we know all too painfully well, lives closer to home are torn apart . . . And perhaps worse – trained as we are now in patterns of consumption – we take the name of the Lord in vain and say ‘God wants me to have this or that or the other’ . . . and for what??? For things that are passing away . . . for things that will fill landfill, that our families will throw away when we’re gone, for the dream relationship that when it becomes reality is just the same because we are just the same . . .
So we might therefore say, that God loves US to much to give E what I want because my wants ignore their impact on others – often many thousands – so God loves US to much because he wants us to take seriously the command ot loveourneighbour as ourself. If I want a car, I should be happy to have the Aluminium smelter disrupt my life etc. etc.
BUT it goes far far deeper than that – Love your neighbour as yourself is the second commandment . . .
One of the biggest regrets of my life is the poverty of my relationship with my father. He frequently was away on business which meant that to some considerable degree he and I were strangers to one another – and whenever he returned from his travels – he brought presents, and in my childishness I learned at some deep level to value the presents far more than my father – I lost sight of the far deeper longing to know and be known by him and substituted it for the desire for what he would bring back when he returned . . .
You see our problem as CS Lewis puts it so well is not that our desires are too strong, but they are too weak . . .half hearted creatures fooling around with drink and sex and ambition, when Infinite joy is offered us, like ignorant children making mud pies in slums because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea . . .
And so it is with us and God, the Father from whom all families in earth and heaven take their name . . . If only I had this or that or the other I would be happy . . . God wants me to be happy – he wants me to have this or that or the other
This is why in many respects and for most is not all of us, the life of discipleship can be a long training in disappointed hopes and desires, because God’s desire for us exceeds all that we can imagineably ask or conceive – our vision is too small – we are too readily satisfied – our capacity is not extended sufficiently – for God desires to give us his very self . . .
This is why Paul prays that he wants us to know ‘the depth the height, the breadth the depth and the length of the Love of God – for if we for one moment we saw even a scintilla of the Vastness of God’s Love. The inexpressibility of His Beauty – The Universe dwarfing Oceans of his tenderness and mercy . . . we would never desire anything or anyone ever again
The answer to our deepest longings and desires, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength . . .
If for a moment we can say –yes I know the depths of God’s love for me, but . . . we have no idea of the Love of God for us . . . God desires that we might so know him that we might be filled with all his fullness and be unmistakeably his treasured children.
When Israel was in the wilderness He gave them what they needed, bread and forgiveness: the Manna and the sacrificial system – by giving them himself – God at the centre of the community feeding, forgiving and nourishing them with his very self – and so comes Jesus feeding the 5000, pointing to the Cross where he will pour out his very self as Bread, as forgivness as LIFE . . . and in his mute appeal from the Throne of his Glory, the crucified one asks ‘Am I not enough?’ ‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?’
Find rest O my soul, find your home in God alone – Come to me and I will give you unimagineably more than all you could possibly ask or conceive
After my FB post a friend asked ‘Are you homesick?’ – I replied – aren’t we all? We’ve just forgotten where home is, but the Good shepherd comes looking for his sheep to lead them home, to lead them to green pastures
Find rest O my Soul in God alone – come home