Is it a bad thing to believe in God?

Who has forgotten to trust

(2 Thess 3: 1-5)

It's about relationships

Dear Congregation,

today meeting between neighbors. How beautifully gathered ...

"Relationships are half of life" - I think: relationships are all of life.

Wrong and bad people

Someone is fed up with our sermon text. He writes of "wrong and evil people" who surround him and from whom he would like to be redeemed.

There are such people. If you talk to them, they are nice and nice, and they break their mouths when they talk around the back.

Or you speak up, get along, and afterwards they take it after you and tell half the village about it.

Whole families fall out just because of the money, or because of a house

or because someone got something down the wrong track, parents and children haven't talked to each other for years.

Belief is not for everyone

You could get angry about it until you go black, or you could get depressed about the wickedness of people. But unfortunately that doesn't help.

Why are people wrong and evil.

Sometimes it is the case that other people behave differently and that a little understanding is the solution.

But of course there is also behavior that is simply wrong. You can't shake anything about it. You know the Ten Commandments. When someone lies, or goes to bed with a strange woman, or steals and so on. That’s just wrong. This is objectively wrong, simply because it harms - and God has forbidden it.

But the Bible understands that too. People just don't do what God wants. Those who believe in what is good in people are surprised. But those who know the Bible are not surprised. Already in the first book of Moses it says: The poetry and striving of man is evil from youth. Man is a sinner. Everyone, deep down - and only faith can save us from it.

The question, why are there wrong and bad people, is answered here just as simply as it is surprising: "Because belief is not everyone's thing."

First of all, this is a word of tolerance and understanding. Anyone who talks like this is not surprised if someone harms them. He expected it anyway. He knows: people are like that. And I'm only human too. I am no better

And he also knows: the one who harms me is the one who is actually to be regretted. Because he does it because he lacks something important. I am no better than him. It's just that I have a relationship that usually saves me from the worst - myself.

Relationship: Faith - Trust - Be Faithful

Because belief is a matter of relationship.

Believing does not mean "holding true". It's called: trust. The believer is the trusting, the trustworthy and the faithful at the same time. Faith, trust, and fidelity are one thing to the Bible.

Why do we humans sin? - There are many explanations, but I think there is actually one thing behind what we put so nicely into the saying: "Everyone thinks of himself - only I think of myself." We fear for ourselves, that's why we're so vulnerable, that's why we talk back and forth, that's why we're so greedy, that's why we don't forgive, that's why we shift the blame into other shoes.

Only one thing can tear us out of this vortex: trust. Whoever trusts in God doesn't need all the lousy tricks to gain an advantage. God cares for me. I don't need falsehood or malice to get there - that's how he speaks who believes.

the unbelief of men and the faithfulness of Christ

"Faith is not for everyone, but the Lord is faithful." - in the Greek original this is a play on words, because faith and loyalty are one and the same, and here is the same word: "Trust is not everyone's thing, but Jesus is trustworthy," one could translate. I think the author intentionally put it this way. Because our unbelief is always opposed to God's faithfulness. His trust in our mistrust that he gives us again and again.

On our part, the relationship with God may be disturbed, marked by mistrust. Then distrust also shapes our other relationships. - It's somehow related. Trust God and be trustworthy to people.

But even if a person doesn't believe in God at all, there is no question mark at all from God's side. God's faithfulness is established. Even if we are unfaithful, he is faithful. And we are unfaithful because we don't trust him, don't believe him.

I have said that the phrase "belief is not for everyone" is a phrase full of understanding. Anyone who speaks like this knows that he is no better than the people who do him harm. Because he knows that they are driven by their distrust.

but: Faith is for everyone

"Belief is not for everyone" - a phrase of understanding.

Now there are people - including many who belong to the church themselves - who say: Well, faith is just not my thing. It's like a hobby for you, and that helps you, but I don't need it, it might be for the faint of heart. "Somebody has probably already given you this or something like that to understand. Perhaps he didn't say it, but we have often felt it: leave me alone with your religion, that's not my thing.

But is that really true? Is that what this sentence really means here in the Bible?

No he is not! God is one God for all people. Either we believe in him or we don't.

People really have a problem with their unbelief. You may not notice that. But that's the way it is. We often let ourselves be persuaded that faith is a matter of taste, and when we build a church, we think of an association that welcomes active members - but we forget what it's actually about: saving the lost souls. Without God we are lost. Whoever does not believe, distrusts his Creator.

It is very clear in the Bible.

What is it like in our daily life? It's not always that obvious. We often wonder how well people get along without God. But we notice it:

First of all with ourselves: We ourselves always act wrong and angry when our relationship with God is rather loose and mistrust has crept in, or we think we don't need God and his commandments at the moment. We know that, we are not immune from sin just because we are here today in worship.

I think it stands to reason that it is no different with other people either. I now know enough family stories from these villages. It makes a world of difference whether people trust God in the way they treat one another. And when relationships are screwed up, then all of life is screwed up, because relationships are all of life.

I am sure that behind people's messed up relationships there is ultimately distrust of God. I think that's true.

An example from politics. Sometimes this mistrust even disguises itself as belief. That actually works: someone thinks he has to wage a war for God and considers himself particularly pious. In doing so, he forgets that God can very well fight for himself. He trusts his own possibilities more than the possibilities of God. Fanatics of all religions think so.

Spreading Faith

If you don't believe, you have a problem. The most important relationship in his life, the relationship with God, is determined by distrust and indifference, and you can tell.

That is why belief is for everyone. Even if not everyone believes, it would be good for everyone to believe.

That is the real thought in our text: An early Christian apostle turns to a congregation in Salonika. He and his co-workers preach faith in God in Jesus Christ. But people are resisting it. They have mistrust, belief is not their thing. Some of them face the proclaimers of the faith as enemies. And it is precisely they who need faith so much.

The early Christian apostle has a wish for his friends in Salonika: Pray for us. It's really difficult what we're doing here, we want to help people believe, but the headwind is so strong. Please pray for us, pray "that the word of the Lord may run and be praised as it is with you and that we may be redeemed from false and wicked people."

Fortunately, he has good relationships. Fortunately, he has brothers and sisters in Christ who are on his side. He's not alone. The prayers stand by him.

Does that sound familiar to you? Who are the preachers of the faith among us?

Pastor Bauer-Marks and I. The children's church service helpers, the employees in the senior circle, the religion teachers, people who make house calls, and many others in our church services in the life of our congregations

But actually we all too. We are all asked again and again to confess God. There are these situations and relationships where we realize we should and we could now pass on some of God's Word. And then how often do we not trust each other because we have the feeling that this does not fit here, because belief is not everyone's cup of tea. Or we don't even think about it in the situation, because all the other topics are much more important at the moment, in the discussions in the evening in front of the TV, or in the pub, or while Nordic walking.

Prayer needed

We need prayer so that we do not allow ourselves to be overcome by evil and wrong people. The greatest temptation is that we should act like them. Because we think we can protect ourselves in this way, because we don't trust in God.

We don't need to be afraid of them. God protects us from them. He cares for us. We can classify their hostility; they cannot do otherwise because they have no trust.

I know there is also this arrogant one: I don't have a problem, you have a problem and I'm sorry for you - it's just an attempt not to let the problem get to you and you are not sorry at all.

Whoever sees his fellow man through the eyes of God really has a problem with it when the fellow man treats him wrongly and badly. He suffers from his attacks, and he has real pity when he understands that not everyone finds support in faith.

I can tell you that it motivates me incredibly for my work when I see how well people can relate to one another through faith. And vice versa, when I see that people destroy each other out of sheer distrust, then I know that our country needs the word of God.

Paul once said that we should not allow ourselves to be overcome by evil, but that we should overcome evil with good. That is the art of relationship. If we live by faith, then we can. Then we can overcome evil with good if the relationship with God is right. That is why we do not want to stop praying that God's word would run, that people would put their trust in God and find new life in Christ.

I wish that to all of us.

I would like to conclude my sermon as the sermon text ends for this Sunday:

"But the Lord direct your hearts towards the love of God and the patience of Christ."

Amen.

Otto Guggemos 2008

 

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