Title: Making Sense of Life
Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:1-6
Proposition or Theme Sentence: Jesus Christ is the only means to union with God, the answer to our spiritual wandering.
Purpose: To bring "spiritual" people to confession of Jesus Christ as their Savior.
-Tell the story about the boy who did not come home from school and how he was found
-Conclusion- "Even though he never knew he was lost, nor did he consider himself to be lost, he was lost because he was away from home when he should not have been, and away from his mother, the one responsible for his care and safety."
I. Sociological Observation: we are searching for the path to God
A. It is easy to find evidence in our culture of our search for God
2. mind-altering drugs
3. the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe
4. religious belief and practice
5. spirituality-various television shows concerning angels, witches, etc.
B. We pick and choose what we like and dislike to form a synthesized personal spirituality.
C. Seeking is the key to spirituality.
1. Many have given up on the possibility of finding the answers.
2. Therefore we have become content with merely seeking for the answers.
3. Many people are even searching for the starting point of a meaningful spiritual journey.
II. Psychological Analysis: We are searching for the starting point of a meaningful spiritual journey because we feel lost and disconnected from God.
A. Our needs are not being met.
1. We feel lonely.
2. We feel depressed about our past.
3. We feel anxious about the future.
4. We desire more from life.
B. Our questions are not answered.
1. We have questions about our existence, our origins, the world
2. The biggest question is the God question.
C. We hope that our needs might be met and our questions answered in our search for God.
1. The prospect of finding God seems impossible.
2. We then seek to find the path, or a path, that will get us a little closer to God.
III. Theological Response: Jesus' is God's path, our mediator.
A. The Bible tells us that God seeks to save all people. (I Timothy 2:3-4)
1. God is more interested in our searching than we are.
2. God is described as our Savior- he is not passively overlooking our searching.
3. His saving is for all people-not just a select few.
4. This implies that all people need saving.
B. The Bible also tells us about the path to God. (vs. 5)
1. There is only one God
2. There is only one path to God.
3. Our path to God is a person, a mediator between us and God.(vs. 5)
C. Jesus is our mediator (vss. 5-6)
1. He died on our behalf
2. He is our representative before God
3. With Jesus as our mediator we can be reunited with God and finally find the answers to our questions and the fulfillment of our needs.
Conclusion: Recast the ending of the story of the lost boy, inserting ourselves into the story. "Whether we know we are lost or not, God considers us lost until we come to him through his mediator, Jesus Christ. Whether we are wandering around town looking for home, sitting on the curb in tears, or walking away from home as fast as we can, Jesus, our mediator and friend, is always right behind us, ready to take us home as soon as we ask him to do so."
Invitation: Will you accept Jesus as your mediator who can lead you along the true path to union with God?
"Tommy is lost!" exclaimed my sister. "Linda doesn't where he is. Have you seen him? He hasn't come home from school yet." I walked out the door, puzzled by the look of fear on my sister's face. She continued, "Linda can't find him and doesn't know where he is. He might be kidnapped! So we are all out looking for him. Will you help us?" I immediately agreed to comply with the request of my frantic sister. I could hear people shouting the name of this lost boy all over the neighborhood. We began to knock on doors, each time receiving the same answer: no Tommy. Our hopes of finding Tommy skirted farther away with every negative answer. Surely someone had seen him. Maybe he was kidnapped. Could it be that someone on our own street would join the list of thousands of children who disappeared suddenly, never to be seen again? Had he run away? Or maybe he took a wrong turn, quickly found himself disoriented, and was presently sitting on a curb with tears running down his cheek, wondering if he will ever find his home again. The possibilities seemed endless. But as far as his family and friends were concerned, he was lost.
Within an hour the good news came. Tommy had been found. He had merely gone home with a new friend and spent the afternoon watching television and playing video games with his friend. He forgot to ask his mother, but assumed it would be all right. He was safe and within a few minutes he was home and everything was back to normal. Was Tommy ever lost? Yes, as far as his mother was concerned he was lost because he was outside of her care. Even though he never knew he was lost, nor did he ever consider himself to be lost, he was lost because he was away from home when he should not have been, and away from his mother, the one responsible for his care and safety.
In some ways humans are in the same predicament of Tommy. We are lost. This comes as a surprise to many of us, for sometimes we don't feel lost. But in God's eyes, all humans, at some point in their lives, are found to be away from and disconnected from God. Sometimes we run away from God's care, and sometimes we merely wander away. And while we may think we know where we are going, we are considered lost by God because we are not with him. We call our disconnectedness "lostness." In response to our feelings of lostness we attempt to "find" our way, seeking meaning and purpose in life. Today we will reflect for a few minutes on our search for meaning. We will examine how we search, what it is that we are searching for, and why we search. Then we will examine God's response to our searching. Could it be that Bible has an answer for our endless searching?
It is fairly easy to look at human culture and find traces of our search for meaning and purpose. We are constantly searching for that which is beyond us, above us, greater than us, hoping that what we find will give us insight into the meaning of our existence. Astronomers search for intelligent life on other planets hoping to find clues. Psychologists dig deep into our minds, using the latest techniques to probe our unconscious thoughts and feelings. Some people take illegal drugs, in hopes that the "expanded" mind will arrive at new insights regarding our existence. For most people, this searching takes the form of religious belief and practice. And these religious practices vary widely in belief and practice. And we must admit that there are adherents of every religious system who are fully devoted and committed to their faith. We must admit that no religious system holds the honor of having the most sincerity amongst its membership.
The evidence of this search for meaning is all around us, often described in terms of "spirituality". One only needs to scan the listings of the current TV Guide and he/she will find a plethora of shows which deal with the supernatural, from religion, to angels, to witches, etc. Even television journalists are investigating such topics as the existence of Jesus, the reality of miracles, etc. We have gone so far as to create "cyber religion" for those who spend large amounts of time connected to the internet. Oprah Winfrey inspires our spirits each day with her inspirational thoughts, guests, and topics. The Dalai Lama sells thousands of books helping us to be more spiritual. There are more kinds of yoga and meditation/relaxation techniques than one can name in one sitting. Polls indicate that just about everyone is praying on a regular basis. Indeed we may be more spiritual than we ever have been. And while we are very spiritual, we are very open to the many options available to us. And most of us will pick what we want, accepting and keeping what we like and discarding what we dislike. In the end we have our own kind of personalized spirituality which we then attempt to use in daily life. Therefore while we might agree that we are lost, many of us would suggest that we are actively searching for and slowly synthesizing our system with which we hope to overcome our "lostness".
They key word in all of this is "seeking". What is important is that each person is seeking, and some might even say that life isn't about finding the answers, or the truth, or even a truth, but that what is of ultimate importance is that one is seeking. And if one is seeking, then he is on the right path.
Why are we expending so much time and energy in our search for meaning? Why is it that everyone is searching, yet no one, or at the most a small number of people are actually finding what it is that they are looking for? Our only conclusion can be that we are lost. Whether we will admit it or not, whether we know it consciously or not, we are lost; therefore we search.
We have needs that are not being met. Life, described as normal, does not feel like what normal should be. We expect more out of life than what we are currently experiencing. Therefore we are depressed about our past, and anxious about the future. We feel alone. We feel like we are in our own little worlds, and this feels uncomfortable. We desire love, acceptance, and companionship, but seem unable to find it in other people or in ourselves. We seek some kind of peace-of mind, of heart, of body. We want to really be able to relax.
We also have questions that go unanswered. Questions about our existence, our origins, and our world. And we just can't seem to find the answers. And our biggest question seems to be the God question.
We do not merely search for answers, for love, for God, etc. We also search for the path. Most of us come to the conclusion that actually finding God may be impossible, at least during this lifetime. Therefore we content ourselves to search at the same time for the path, or a path that will eventually lead us to God. Maybe, just maybe, we think to ourselves, that if we get on the right path, or at least one possible path, we will someday end up closer to that which we seek than we are now.
How do we resolve this situation? Is it possible to ever find something resembling the truth, or must we spend our entire lives in constant frustration while we investigate hundreds of leads, hoping to find somewhere a parcel of that which is true? Fortunately for us, the Bible has given us an answer for our dilemma.
We find the answer in the book of I Timothy, chapter 2. We find in verses 3-4 that God is more interested in our search than we are. We find this in the first description of him: he is called our Savior. This is not just a nice title; it is a description of his work. A savior is one who saves, like a lifeguard who watches the swimmers, diving in to help those who are in trouble. And then we find that God desires to do this work on a grand scale. In verse 5 we read that God wants all people to be saved. This tells us two things. First, God's concern is global and inclusive. He doesn't just pick a few people to be saved, or save only the smartest, or nicest, or wisest people; he desires to save all people. This verse implies that all people indeed need saving. It doesn't say, "God desires that all men be saved who need to be saved; this would be redundant, for the assumption is that all people are lost and therefore need to be saved. And God wants them to be saved.
Further, we see that God also wants us to come to knowledge of the truth. While this passage does not state what this truth is that we are to come to know, it is evident that humans do not have the truth that God wants them to have. Therefore it is obvious from this passage that God considers us to be lost and in need of a Savior who will save us.
Then God tells us his plan for saving us. While he maintains that we are all lost and in need of a Savior, he also says that there is only one path to follow by which one may be saved. That one path is the one mediator who leads us to God. Therefore if any human wants to be saved by God, he must be saved through this one mediator. This may come as a big surprise and be rather offensive. "Do you mean," you may ask, "that there is only one way to God? Do you mean to say that all attempts to get to God, and all spirituality that do not include this one mediator are worthless?" And while this Scripture does not speak of the value of other methods, it is clear that there is one mediator. And it begins this by saying that there is only one God. There is no pantheon of Gods, all of equal value and worth and power. The Bible asserts that there is one God. And that is made explicitly clear in this passage.
We do not have to worry about this fact that there is one God. In fact, believing in one God makes more sense for us in our predicament than does believing in many gods. For if someone presents an answer to our searching, the more specific and direct it is the better. For if someone suggests that they have the answer, but their answer consists of many choices, it is not much more of an answer than we have previously found.
Finally, our passage tells us who this mediator is and how it is that he is our mediator. His name is Jesus Christ. This is the same Jesus Christ that the rest of the New Testament talks about. He is the one who was born a human on Christmas and died on the cross around Easter. He was a man, like all of us who are lost. But he died on the cross on our behalf. Therefore he was a ransom. He took the consequences of our wrongdoing -our separation from God and the penalty coming to us-and paid them on our behalf with his own life. Therefore he stands as our representative before God. And he is our mediator if we associate ourselves with him and accept his work on behalf of us. In the end, with Jesus as our mediator, we can be reunited with God and finally find the answers to our questions, and the fulfillment of our needs.
Earlier in this passage the life that God desires for us has been described. Verse 2 suggests that God wants us to live quiet and peaceful lives, full of godliness and dignity. And the path to all of this? Jesus Christ our mediator.
Tommy was lost because his mother did not know where he was. He didn't know he was lost, but his mother considered him lost. Whether we know that we are lost or not, God considers us lost until we come to him through his mediator, Jesus Christ. Whether we are wandering around town looking for home, sitting on the curb in tears, or walking as fast as we can away from home, Jesus is always right behind us, ready to take us home as soon as we ask him to do so.
Will you come home today? God, your father, desperately desires to have you at home. If you are a religious person looking for a God that is worthy to be worshipped, God is inviting you today to come home with his son Jesus Christ. If you are a wounded and hurting soul, longing for the love and safety of a warm home, God is inviting you to come home through his son Jesus Christ. If you are restless mind, endlessly searching for answers, all of which lead to more uncertainty, God is inviting to you come home through his son Jesus Christ. If you are searching, God is inviting you today to stop searching and accept his invitation to come home where you can find answers.
How do you accept the invitation? First you need to accept the fact that you are a lost person, totally incapable of finding your way on your own. Then you need to admit that you have sinned against the one true God, and have done things to get yourself farther and farther away from God. Then you need to accept Jesus' death as your ransom, and Jesus himself as your only possible mediator. Finally, you need to trust Jesus, and follow him home. You do this by committing yourself to learning to be more and more like God wants you to be, by prayer, reading of the Bible and worship.
The invitation is before you. God asks that you come home. Jesus, your mediator, is ready to take you there. Will you accept his invitation?