Our Bishop's latest sermon...
Does God believe in you?
That wasn’t a slip of the tongue. I didn’t mean to ask, “Do you believe in God?” Admittedly, that is the more common question. But I want you to consider this one instead.
Does God believe in you?
My reason for asking this question is simple. A distressing number of people labor under the misimpression that God does not believe in us unless and until we believe in him.
They think that God is just assessing whether or not to believe in us. Deciding whether or not our behavior and our beliefs warrant heaven or hell, divine blessing or neglect, answered prayers or wasted breath.
The message God sends us in Jesus is precisely the opposite. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection show us that God believes in us because that’s who God is, not because of what we’ve done or might do.
That’s precisely what Jesus teaches us in his debate with the Sadducees. The Sadducees want to show Jesus just how wrong he is about the resurrection of the body. But Jesus quickly shows us—even if he doesn’t convince the Sadducees—that the real issue is their, and our, concept of God.
Let’s briefly recall the exchange. The Sadducees present what philosophers call an argument ad absurdum. If you believe something that leads to an absurdity, then what you believe is itself absurd. In their view, the resurrection is just such an absurdity.
Here’s how they argued. The Old Testament law required a brother to marry his brother’s childless widow. Now imagine that a man died and his brother did his duty, marrying his brother’s widow. This brother in turn dies, so his brother marries the woman. And this gets repeated four more times.
Does the woman have seven husbands in heaven? Of course not, they argue. It’s absurd. And the same thing goes for the idea that leads to such an absurd conclusion. So, the Sadducees conclude, there cannot be a resurrection of the body.
Jesus initially points out that resurrection life is an entirely different order of being. Since you can’t die, you don’t need to have children, so marriage as we know it doesn’t apply. But that’s just his initial response. Jesus is just warming up.
The central argument revolves around the identity and character of God himself. Jesus reminds his listeners of God’s conversation with Moses from the burning bush. When Moses asks God what he should tell the Hebrews in Egypt, God says, “Tell them I sent you.”
God gives his name this way, “Tell them that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sent me.” Now these patriarchs were long dead by Jesus’ day. But in some fundamental way, they are still living. They are living because of who God is.
Jesus said, “He is God not of the dead, but of the living.” (Luke 20:38; emphasis added)
Or, to put it in the terms we’re considering today. God believes in them, just like he believes in you and me. And that makes all the difference.
Let me explain.