Mar 292014

What are you sure of? Finish this sentence- “As sure as ____”

The legendary quote by Benjamin Franklin goes like this: “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

“As sure as the ground I’m standing on!” Well, that worked until I felt my first earthquake!

In what to we place our confidence, our assurance, our hope for the future? Let’s look at a couple of examples.

A Buddhist story, used to encourage the faithful, shows  some shocking similarities to the Christian parable of the Lost Son. Here’s some excerpts:

The father, knowing that his son’s disposition was inferior, knowing that his own lordly position had caused distress to his son, yet convinced that he was his son, tactfully did not say to others, “This is my son.”

the father noticed that his son’s ideas had gradually been enlarged, his aspirations developed, and that he despised his previous state of mind.

Today the World-honored One has caused us to ponder over and remove the dirt of all diverting discussions of inferior things. In these we have hitherto been diligent to make progress and have got, as it were, a day’s pay for our effort to reach nirvana. Obtaining this, we greatly rejoiced and were contented, saying to ourselves, “For our diligence and progress in the Buddha-law what we have received is ample”.

The real parable from Luke 15 in Jesus’ own words:

I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

Religions are based on man striving to improve, to elevate himself…..except one. Christianity only religion based on what God has done.

The Buddhist story is truly the story of the Lost Son. Luke’s parable, spoken by Jesus, is NOT the story of the Lost Son,  it is the story of the Redeeming Father. Contrast the faltering journey of self improvement in the first story to the confidence-building acceptance in the second.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners [not after we improved], Christ died for us. –Romans 5:8 NIV.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know [not hope, or wish] that you have eternal life. –1 John 5:13 NIV.

We spend our lives hoping, thinking, wondering. Living in the Buddhist parable. Doubting our ability to do, to succeed, to elevate. Wondering about becoming acceptable. Hoping we are good enough.  And why not.. if I am focusing on my ability, my achievement, I have a lot to be worried about!

But it’s not about me, It’s about Who God is. Whenever He looks at us, He sees flashbacks of His Son bleeding and dying on the cross for us. How can He not love us… for whom His Son died?

Becoming Buddha’s son is dependent on elevating one’s self to higher plane, striving to achieve a higher state of mind. Exhausting and futile.

Becoming God’s son, now that’s a solid. Why? because it is based solely, entirely, completely on Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Listen to this now-classic rendition of a famous gospel hymn.

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My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground, all other religions, all other life plans, all other gods… are sinking sand.

Friends, if you are not feeling solid about your future this morning, if your salvation is doubtful, stop looking at your own failings and count on something Solid.

excerpted from sunrise sermon Ukiah, March 22, 2014
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