Releasing the Spring

vintage

Matthew 3:1=13

Don LaFontaine (August 26, 1940 – September 1, 2008) was an American voice actor famous for recording more than 5,000 film trailers and hundreds of thousands of television advertisements, network promotions, and video game trailers. His nicknames included "Thunder Throat" and "The Voice of God

“In a world without God, there is a terrible mess and one man is going to do something about it. He’s going to chop out the bad. And the chopping is about to begin. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is being cut down and burned. The unquenchable fire is raging, waiting to be fed the chaff.

And that’s just the beginning”. He said a greater one is coming, one more powerful than himself is on the way.

Maybe this is the rambling of a guy who’s spent too much time by himself in the desert eating grasshoppers. Or perhaps we hear John’s message and think about all those other people to whom it applies. You know, the Pharisees and the Sadducees; someone other than us.

But we can’t do that. The Church says this viper sermon of John’s is the gospel, the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. For most of us, though, threats, anger, and judgment are not good news.

We would rather hear and think about sweet baby Jesus. But John’s not preaching a Christmas sermon. John doesn’t mention a beautiful night with a bright shining star to guide us. There are no humble and gentle shepherds guarding their flocks by night. No wise men bearing gifts from afar.

John’s not looking at a manger scene where the little Lord Jesus lays down his sweet head. He seems to have forgotten the innocent but faithful Virgin. And the name Jesus isn’t even mentioned in today’s gospel.

John is looking for God to do something drastic right now. John’s message is, “God’s coming and God’s going to get you.

When we look around our world, read the newspaper, watch the evening news, or examine our own lives we’re confronted with the reality of John’s sermon. Our world and our lives are not as they should be, as they can be, as God wills them to be. We could each name the sinful or broken places of our lives and world: anger, violence, greed, poverty, homelessness, war, lives controlled by fear, years of guilt that have crippled us. The list could go on and on.

John’s cry of repentance is the call to turn away from our indifference to engage, at a life-changing level, the coming kingdom and the way that kingdom reorders our relationships and priorities. John’s words are words of interrogation. Do we care enough to change our lives and the world in which we live? Do we love enough to get angry about the suffering and plight of other human beings – even if we’ve never met them?

God does. That’s why divine wrath, axes, and fire are good news. God loves enough to get angry. The good news is that our God is not indifferent. God is not indifferent to creation. God is not indifferent to the evil and suffering in this world. God is not indifferent to God’s people. God is not indifferent to your life or my life.

God’s concern and love for creation are the source of God’s anger. Anger is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. The last thing we need is more indifference. The last thing we need is to hear from another that our very existence is meaningless. And God forbid that we should ever say or act as if another’s very existence is of no consequence to us.

Wrath, fire, and axes are God’s calling us to turn away from, to repent of, our indifference. Where does indifference rule our lives? How have we become indifferent to ourselves, to others, even to God? In what ways does indifference deny you the Kingdom of Heaven?

Wrath, fire and axes are not about destruction or punishment. They are about life, love, and relationship. The unquenchable fire of God’s love burns away our indifference. The healing axe of God cuts away all indifference. The wrath of God reminds us that God cares and we matter.

Hebrews 11:1-10 is the Bible’s great chapter on exemplified faith. We are told that people behaved the way that they did due to their beliefs. We find a strong correlation here between what we believe and how we act.

In today’s religious world there are many who say, it doesn’t matter what you believe. They will firmly proclaim that it doesn’t matter what one believes and then expect certain correct behaviour.

1, Our beliefs will determine our actions

1. We act according to our beliefs.

Matthew 12:34 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.”

2. If we believe the right things we will act correctly.

Matthew 12:35 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, ….”

Matthew 6:22 ““The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light..”

3. If we believe the wrong things we will act incorrectly.

Matthew 12:35b “…an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him..”

Matthew 15:18-19 “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”:”

3. Different beliefs determine different actions.

1) Some beliefs determine what we trust.

2) Some beliefs determine how we worship (Matthew 15:9).

3) Some beliefs determine how we personally behave (1 Corinthians 13:5).

4. Christians who know what they believe will be able to choose actions accordingly.

Romans 13:7-10 ” Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law

1) Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet,

a light on my path.”

2) Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.”

3) Psalm 119:9 “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?

By living according to your word..”

5. Correct belief brings us hope.

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit..”

Take a look at the core beliefs in our Covenant. What we believe determines how we behave.