Pr. Eric Swensson

13 June 2012

photo of Pr. Eric SwenssonHow would you like a new career? My wife has worked in Human Resources at a very large institution, and I can assure you that not only are people trying very hard to get in, the people who are there hope to get a better position. You know LinkedIn? Their home page says, “Get the most from your professional network. Power your career.” Discover new business opportunity.” Did you hear they got hacked? If you are a member, you need to log in and change your password because the hackers are able to get 80% of the 160 million LinkedIn users personal information. Someone said “Why would anyone hack LinkedIn, these people don’t have jobs so they wouldn’t have any money.” That was just a bad joke; most people are on there not to look for a job but for a better one. Don’t we all want something better? Seriously, even if you aren’t actively looking, would you turn down an offer for a more lucrative position? What if I told you how to get into an excellent professional career, one where you might travel the world and get all kinds of rewards? Are you interested?

Scripture makes you a much better job offer than anything you can find on LinkedIn. Listen to the offer in the fifth chapter of Second for a job out of this world:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened - not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage [confident], and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others… For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

If it isn’t clear that this is about a new career or what your job is it should be soon:

“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

This is your mission, possibly. Jesus says you who have heard the Word passed from the old life into the new. Paul says in this new life you will find that you have been given a new career. You have been made an ambassador. Your task if you chose to accept is to tell people to come to the waters.

Yes, in a world full of convenience stores with long rows of refrigeration units filled with an array of dozens upon dozens of different brands and kinds of bottled water and juice, soft drinks and hard drink, people are still thirsty. Why? We can drink and drink and drink of it, but soon we are thirsty again. Why? This world is transitory. Temporary. Fleeting. What we see that everyone takes for reality is not real life in the sense that all these things are some day going to break or die. Decompose. What we commonly call life is temporary, or in fact a false offer within it. This whole material world is passing away, to be replaced with a new one. And that is OK because we were made to spend eternity with God there. This world is not your home. Paul addressed this in opening of today’s text. The words he chose about tents and clothing can be a little confusing, but he is comparing the inadequacies of the natural to the splendor of the spiritual, eternal life with God, a life that begins when we realize that we are a new creation. Paul’s words here are yet another illustration of our inadequacy. We use combinations of words to try and make a picture that people will recognize. We used to hear the expression “The clothes make the man” and by that it meant that dressing up makes a good impression. If I am wearing my nice blue suit with a red silk necktie I get one sort of treatment as I go around; if I am wearing a T-shirt and jeans I get another. Many careers have people wear a uniform and the uniform itself already confers respect upon those who wear it. However, for this particular job, being an ambassador for Christ, the clothing Paul is talking of is a metaphor. Christ uses a similar metaphor in a parable about a wedding banquet in the Gospels and again in the Revelation to John. These also are metaphors. This clothing is not ordered online from a church supply store, no UPS driver is going to ring your doorbell and drop it off and go, no, it is clothing worn on the inside as it were, a baptismal garment, a wedding suit, a spiritual thing we struggle with metaphors to describe, a reality we have to struggle in prayer in order to understand. Indeed we do moan as think about our inadequacies and the difficulties we have in our new career, and can’t help but think we have to be the very worst ambassadors ever, but we take heart when we hear the Word. We have courage when we hear that in Christ we can do all things, we become confident and walk by faith and not by sight. Knowing the awesomeness of life with God and the danger of being without this grace and mercy, as Paul says, we persuade others. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

And so, the mission is not impossible when we find ourselves at the foot of His cross. As ambassadors of God, we plead that people return to God not with our cleverest words, not as some would think, telling people what we think they want to hear, but with the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and if we believe in him. Remember you are not alone in your mission, there are a bunch of us miserable sinners with you in spirit whenever you try and speak this word to a world dying in its frantic indifference, a veritable communion of saints standing there at the cross, but even if you were to find yourself ambushed and alone, rejoice if it seems that they want to crucify you, because there at the cross you cannot be alone.

Power for a new career? God has it in abundance. And God doesn’t need hackers to get your personal information. He has it already and still nominates YOU for the position of ambassador. Will you accept?