Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The sadness found in the rest of the story

I had a very surprising response to writing my sermon for last week. Balaam was the first non-sympathetic character to be the main focus for me. I've done sermons on other characters that were acting badly before but overall these characters still remain sympathetic. For example Jacob cheats his brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing but is still the father of the nation Israel. He does some bad things but is still considered a man of God. King David commits adultery, murder, lies and does a bunch of things that make him a real scoundrel. But he is still considered a man after God's own heart. 

Balaam on the other hand has one positive story about him but overall is a bad guy. The problem that I ran into is my experience with Balaam had always been that one positive story. Who doesn't love a story with a talking donkey

I had no idea of the rest of the story

It turns out that Balaam ended up getting killed while fighting against the Israelites after he taught King Balak and the Moabites how to lead the Israelites astray through sexual immorality and idol worship.

That one positive story makes me want to like Balaam. I really want Balaam to turn out good. I would love to sit down and hear him talk about his experience with the donkey. It would be like being able to talk with one of the Pevensie children. But from the way that Balaam is treated in other scripture references, it seems that it is a long shot that he died having a right relationship with God.

And that saddens me greatly.

It also makes me realize the importance of sharing the Good News of the forgiveness found in Christ. Without that forgiveness we are all lost. We have all done things that we know are wrong and those things separate us from God. The Apostle Paul does a great job of pointing out this fact in the first nine chapters of Romans. His argument can be summed up in two verses:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

After this nine chapter argument Paul states:

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved...For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"

We as the church have as our number one priority–over everything else that we do as a church–is to share that good news with others. Yes we should be helping those with physical or mental needs but if we don't share the Gospel then we are seriously neglecting the greatest need of all of humankind. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Michael, I enjoyed reading the "Rest Of The Story".