“If Jesus Hadn’t Come Then God Wouldn’t Be Near”                     December 2, 2012

Luke 21:25-36                                                                                        Stephens City UMC

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I.                   It was Rene Descartes who once said “I think therefore I am.”

A.    Don’t you wish you had a dollar for however many times that statement has been quoted?

1.     Descartes used that quote to encourage people to expand their minds and to enlarge their ability to think about the world and themselves.

2.     Thus it was that he developed a series of questions to help with that process and the first question he proposed was “Does God exist?”

3.     It says a lot about Descartes and his thinking process that that was his first question.

4.     The Bible takes it for granted that God exists and then begins to deal with questions such as who is the God who is up there?

5.     Between Descartes and the Bible I prefer the Bible’s question.

6.     Like the Holy Book I want to explore the identity of God.

7.     The existence of God is not questionable to me.

8.     My answer to the question “Does God exist?” is deeply philosophical and that answer “Duh!!!”

B.     One of my problems with Descartes is that when you spin out his famous saying “I think therefore I am” is that he has concluded that mere human thought is the essential essence of a human being.

 

1.     What that leads to is a belief that the existence of God is contingent upon the human imagination.

2.     In other words, if you or I couldn’t imagine God then God wouldn’t exist.

3.     That puts human beings first in importance and puts God in second place and in an imaginary second place at that.

4.     One of the problems in our modern world as far as I’m concerned is that we have been conditioned to believe that God is a mere figment of our imagination.

5.     Excuse me, but God is not a product of the human imagination.

6.     Human imagination is a gift from God.

7.     Human beings do not create God out of their imagination.

8.     God created human beings.

9.     That means that human beings are creatures made by God.

10.             God is not the creation of human beings, but we sure try in an effort to make God to be what we want God to be.

II.                 And this is where the themes of Advent and Christmas aid us in that God reveals Himself to us by coming to us in human form in His Son Jesus Christ and that is not something we imagine.

A.    We Christians see this as a good thing because so often and in so many ways we have bungled our efforts to get close to God.

1.     Some of our sin is actually because of our attempt to draw near to God and we have just royally messed up.

2.     Fortunately we don’t have to imagine that God exists nor do we have to imagine ways to get close to God.

3.     God comes to us as a babe born in a manger and we believe that Christ will come again.

B.     If that is the basis of your faith then I think you’ll ask a better question then Descartes did which was “Does God exist?”

1.     To me a better question because it is just begging an answer that will deepen one’s faith is “If Jesus hadn’t have come how would I know that God is near to me?”

2.     To me the answer to that question is “But Jesus came and so you never again have to ask if God is near to you.”

3.     And, using one of God’s gifts to you, imagine how much more assured and better life will be for you if your experience is that of C. Austin Miles who 99 years ago wrote of the nearness of God in a hymn about his experience in a garden where he says of Jesus “And he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

C.     Today as we begin the season of Advent and as gather around the Lord’s Table may you have such an experience and when you do let me assure you are not imagining it.

1.     It is real – as real as these elements.

2.     Know that what Luke wrote in our Gospel lesson for today has come true – our “redemption is drawing near.”