Roger's Postings

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ezekiel 18:1-4; 25-32.             It’s just not fair !!!!                 25/9/11

 (Ezek 18:1-4)  The word of the LORD came to me: {2} "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: "'The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? {3} "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. {4} For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.
(Ezek 18:25-32)  "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? {26} If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. {27} But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. {28} Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. {29} Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust? {30} "Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. {31} Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? {32} For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

 It’s not fair!  It’s just not fair! This is a cry we hear very regularly isn't it? Our children are continually whinging that parents or their teachers, are not fair: the unions and others groups are crying out for a fair deal: people in all walks of life are grumbling that they are being unfairly treated in all kinds of ways: and it is even a cry that we ourselves make - often - too often perhaps.

 And how often isn't that same whinging complaint made to and against God:  why haven't you treated us fairly? It's just not fair that our young son was killed in that accident! It's just not fair that we who are your people, should have to suffer bad years on the land or loose our job or business! Why should all those people have to suffer and die as a result of the tsunami and the hurricane? Why should I have to suffer hardship and pain when my evil neighbour is able to go about enjoying life? And on and on goes our whinging against God.

 Now sadly this complaint against God is nothing new. It seems that he has always had people complaining about his treatment of them. The Bible is full of it. In our text here we have it: the people of Israel complaining that God is making them suffer for the mistakes of their ancestors.

 Again, how often aren't we hearing the same thing today? Maybe not as a direct accusation against God; but the problems of our young people are the direct result of the environment that they grew up in: it's all in our genes: it's the way they were treated by their parents; the education was not good; they are suffering as a result of the abuses of the past. It's all just not fair - not fair at all.

In this text here however, we have God's reply to all these complaints of ours. Here God himself says to us; “'It is not fair.' Your complaints of it's not fair, are just not fair. You grizzle and say that I'm not fair, yet it is you who are not being fair. It is your ways that are unfair. You sit back and blame everyone and everything else for your problems, claiming that it is all their fault; my fault. Come on, you who are just looking for an easy road through life and not wanting to face the reality of your own life. Let me tell you, it is all your own fault, that you are facing those problems and that suffering: it is the result of the sin of humanity.”

He goes on; “let me tell you, every person; each one you will be judged by your own actions. The person who turns away from me and thinks that they can do as they please and who seeks to do their own thing, without regard for me, will surely die. The so called Christian who thinks that they can sit in church on Sunday morning and then for the rest of the week live as if there is no God; that person had better watch out – they might be in for big surprise.”

 “On the other hand the person who, no matter how evil and rotten they may have been, if they turn to me and seek to do good, then they will be saved. In other words, if they recognise that the way they are living is not right and turns back to me and seeks forgiveness and to live in accord with my will then they will get a fair deal from me.

 So do you think that that is being unfair? No! Is it not you who are being unfair?

Yes, God knows what you and I are thinking. He knows the motivation of our hearts and he will judge us accordingly. You may be able fool me and the rest of the people around you - but not God. And it is no good us blaming anyone else, if our thinking, focus and motivation is wrong. Yet if we are in the right with God we can face up to and put up with everything that comes our way, knowing that God is more than fair in his judging of us.

 So then recognising God is going judge us as individuals we need to heed his call of repentance. Each one of us needs to turn away from our offences and seek to live a God pleasing way of life. Our country may be rebellious and idolatrous; the whole morality of our nation maybe going downhill; but we are called not to follow. Just because others cheat, step on and use others to get their own way doesn't mean we have to. Just because others look after themselves and themselves only, being selfish and self-centred; we here are called on by God not to.

Now that of course doesn't mean that we sit back and do nothing either. Even though our country might be in mess and most people out there are heading down a different track and therefore the task in front us is difficult, we are called not sit around and do nothing. Instead we are to make every effort to live and act in an entirely different way; our focus is to be in a different direction.

 In place of all this rot that is around us, we need a new heart and a new spirit. There is a need for a heart that loves God and that puts him and his kingdom first: a heart that is totally committed to him and that trusts him and his ways. Instead of a heart that looks for the easy way out and that follows the ways of a disobedient world, we need a heart that is obedient to God. We need a heart that searches out what he would want us to do in every situation that we face – all the time - not just on Sundays; whether it be in our business, our sport, or in our relationship with others. In everything God wants a new heart within us; a loving heart; an obedient heart. And that is his call to each and every one of us.

 Here though, we need to remember that this is not something we get or can do on our own: this new heart is God's creation; it is his Spirit working this new spirit within us. This of course was created in each of us at our baptism. There God's Holy Spirit began his work within us, giving us this new spirit. He then continues to work in us wanting to help and guide us through his Word; doing everything he can to help us to live and be the people he wants us to be. So this change of direction that is constantly needed is not something we have to do on our own. We have God's Spirit, through his Word, actively seeking to do all in his power to assist us. Even today in the midst all the difficulties that we face, the Spirit is here to help make the changes necessary in our lives. Each day he seeks to take us back to our baptism where we again recognise that we have been made a new and different people. When we read, hear and meditate on God's Word, as we have it in the Scriptures and as we go to Holy Communion, there the Holy Spirit is at work empowering us and giving us what is needed to alter our lives.

 But when we don't come to worship; and read our Bibles; or think about God's Word, we are limiting his ability to help us and are not allowing him to do what he wants in our lives. We need to remember that it is primarily through the Word and Sacraments that the Holy Spirit works in our lives. So we are challenged to regularly spend time reading and hearing God's Word so making opportunities daily for that Spirit to help, strengthen, encourage and empower us to face the task before us.

 Then with this new heart and new spirit we can go forward with hope and confidence. We now know that through our being connected into Christ we can face whatever it is that comes our way. We know that just as Jesus was given a hard time, so also will we, as we live in this sinful world. Now, as we face these difficulties and tragedies we look to and gain our strength from our Lord and saviour, rather than in whinging. Even when we fail, we again can turn back to God in repentance knowing that in Christ we have forgiveness and the strength to continue on, come what may.

 So in conclusion then, let us turn back to God and live. Instead of griping and whinging, that ‘it is not fair,’ let us seek earnestly for this new heart and new spirit that God has and wants to work in us. And may that same God and Spirit richly bless you and give you that peace that is beyond understanding; and may he enrich your lives as you are drawn closer to him and are being strengthened and encouraged for the task that lies in front of us all. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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