I must admit this is the first time I’ve ever been at an F.C.A. meeting. Well actually I think I crashed an FCA when I was in High School because I saw free Chickfila nuggets. But I don’t think I stayed around. So FCA as far as I know is the Free Chickfila Assembly. That being said I was asked to speak today. As they said my name is Devon and I am a leader for Lincoln Young Life. If you have no idea what that is then I need to be doing a better job.
Since my understanding is many of you are athletes I was trying to think of what to talk about. If my gut doesn’t show that I haven’t been athletic in a decade than perhaps this story will.
When I was a freshman in High School my parents gave me the very troubling news that we would be moving from Tallahassee to Sarasota, Fl. My two closest friends were both rowers for Leon and I figured if I joined a rowing team in Sarasota I’d get to see them most weekends.
So some things about this experience. I absolutely hated living in Sarasota I was constantly longing for my friends in Tally. The one thing that I loved was rowing. I spent every single day out on the ocean in a boat with the same dudes. A very family sort of relationship of burps, farts, and curse words and driving our coaches insane. Only these weren’t the coaches you wanted to irritate. It was this Romanian family and our head coach was this like seven foot tall bald yoked Romanian guy with this incredibly intimidating accent. Like the perfect Die Hard villain. His favorite catch phrases were “What are you DOing man?” and “Stop looking pretty my man.” Now since we were new rowers we were taught mostly by his son George. Just an insight on how well coached we were. On average we would win our races by four to seven boat lengths. I have pictures. So on weekdays we would roll in and we would put together our boat and George would then tell us what to do.
Only one morning we showed up and the coaches weren’t there and so we weren’t sure exactly what we were supposed to do. That was when one of our assistant coaches came up and told us that early that morning George was killed in a car accident.
And just like that a 23 year old great and awesome person was taken from the world.
I’m 23 now and to think that my last day could be today is no pleasant thought.
You hear these things and they make you think “What the heck God?” “Why would you do that?”
I think God’s answer to the question is “that’s not what I want.” “that’s not what I created.”
It didn’t have to be like this.
There’s an amazing poem that starts the bible that tells this story about creation and the insistence that all that was created was good.
When we look around and watch our news it sure doesn’t look that way so what happened in between now and then?
There is this ever so complicated word that gets thrown around in religious circles. Often accusing or meant to strike fear or to force you to turn away from that bad thing you are doing. The word is sin. And despite whatever interpretations or baggage you think comes with the word. THAT is the thing that happened between now and then. This story it tells us that the first humans created by God (Which by the way that weren’t just good creations…they were “VERY good creations) were living with him. Hanging out with God, walking with God, talking with God. Free from knowledge of what was good and what was bad. A perfect reality where humans could live forever in relationship with God. No death and relationship with the creator of everything. I’ll take that.
But then these humans got curious. And chose to do things their way over God’s way. Punishment and consequence of these decisions was to be cast out of the Garden and a barrier got between man and God. Sin. Since God is the source of life to be removed from the relationship of life is to bring death. Which is why in Romans it tells us the wages of sin is death. Doesn’t matter how good of a person you are. Doesn’t matter how often you go to church. How often you read your bible. How smart you are.
The book of Romans really explains this in detail but ultimately it comes down to the verse “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
All. Every single one of us have sinned therefore every single on of us chose death. Whether aware of it or not. Our sin is the reason we will all die. And there isn’t a single thing you can do about it. This is paramount to understand. Many people like to cite John 3:16 as the ultimate verse in this whole book. And it is. It’s a perfect verse. But just two verses later is a tragic truth. It talks about those who are without Christ “stand condemned already”.
Man in our sinful state stand condemned. To paint that picture more clearly. Every single human being that has ever existed deserves and has invited Hell. And there is not a single thing you can do about it.
When I talk at Young Life about sin I like to leave it here. Just so we all can understand how much we suck. And sit with that for a bit.
There was a reality where my coach George didn’t have to die…EVER. There was a reality where people would have never been massacred. Where terrorism never existed. Where death never happened. And we chose against it. Because all have sinned. All have lost life with God.
That creation story that tells us all of this is revisited in the gospel of John. The word Gospel is very important when talking about this word sin. Because sin and death and hell that is very and viciously bad news. But then this man lives on earth. Builds up a group of followers. Is executed for claims he made and words he taught. And then this group of followers decide to tell the world that there now is good news. The Gospels which means good news tells the story of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. So how in a world destined for bad news is there now a good news story to be told?
John 1 starts as Genesis 1 starts but it makes a clarification and a claim greater than any that preceded it.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were created; without him nothing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God moved in to the neighborhood.
So when we look at the world around us and see how messed up it is. How broken it is. How painful it is. How much we suffer. How much we hurt.
If anyone get’s it, it’s Jesus. God who had every reason to turn his back on us. To say I’m done with you. Entered the world that WE messed up. That we brought pain in to. That we brought hatred into, suffering into murder into. That God entered THAT world. Lived in it, experienced it, and died for it. Gave his life for it. Was killed. Buried. And then defeated death when he rose from the grave. Defeated the sin problem we could never defeat. Because when you read the bible when you see the problem we created when you see the story progress you see a God who didn’t want people to be forced to obey him and follow all of these rules and follow some false idea that they had to be perfect to be accepted but you see a God who wanted people to be reconciled back to his intent for Creation. Relationship with him. Because this great and powerful story is about The Creator of everything loving you. And caring about you. Despite your flaws. Despite your issues. Despite your rebellion. Because we could do nothing about it. We couldn’t fix it. So he did.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
And this is very GOOD. NEWS.
I’ll leave you with 2 Corinthians 5:21
That if you see the problem or understand it in a new way and you want that change:
Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. So that in him we could become the righteousness of God.
That in him we could have relationship restored.