The pastor of one of the largest churches in the country has said that he doesn’t talk about sin, because it is such a negative concept, it brings people down. He sees his job as lifting people up. It appears to be working because he has so many members of his church. I guess he would never have a service like we just had on Ash Wednesday where I put ashes on people’s foreheads and said, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Of course he is right, no body wants to talk about sin, I don’t either. It is a real downer. But the Bible does talk about it. And then there is evil. Some of the Republican candidates for president are taking a lot of grief for talking about evil in the world. Evil is such a negative concept, can’t we talk about more positive things? But the Bible talks about that too. So is it possible for a Christian to be optimistic and still talk about sin and evil? Actually we Christians ought to be the most optimistic people on earth. We have every reason to expect good things to happen. Because that is in the Bible too. Today St. Paul tells us, LIVE OPTIMISTICALLY. 1. God is for us. 2. Nothing can change that.
Well, which are you, an optimist or a pessimist? Do you see the glass as half empty or half full? Or does it change depending on what you are talking about. St. Paul would say that it doesn’t matter what you are talking about you should be optimistic, because he begins this section with the most optimistic passages of all time. (Read verse 28) All things working out good is a big promise. Since the Arab spring, Coptic Christians in Egypt are being killed. Can God turn that into something good. $4 gas? $5 gas? St. Paul asks the question. (verse 31)
I guess that is where Christian optimism begins and ends, “God is for us.” You wouldn’t really have to say anything more than that. “God is for us.” It really answers all the questions. What will tomorrow bring? God will be for me tomorrow. I worry about my children? God is for them. You can go right down the list. Will I be able to use my talent? Will be able to support myself? Will I meet someone? Will I have a family? Will I make it in school? How will I die? God is for me. I can be pretty optimistic because God is for me.
But St. Paul goes on. (33-34) Who can bring a charge? Who can condemn us? Well that like would seem to be pretty long. Satan would be in that line to condemn us to bring a charge against us. After all we have rebelled against God just like he did and look what he got, the big condemnation. And our sins condemn us. Our conscience condemns us. “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” Has anyone here missed that standard? Society tries to condemn us. We have those who say we walk around with a “better than thou” attitude and another part of society condemning us for being hypocrites. But it doesn’t matter how long the line is because it is God who justifies us.
A guy gets convicted of gunning down 4 people in the street and his mother will always say, “He was a good boy.” Being justified by your mother doesn’t mean to much. Sometimes juries make mistakes. They sometimes condemn the wrong people and probably even more often they declare someone not guilty was in fact guilty. So a jury might say you are not guilty but someone might still question it. So when all these people stand up to condemn you, you don’t have to say, “Well my mother said I’m not guilty.” Or even, “A jury said I’m not guilty.” You get to say, “God said I’m not guilty.” God does that because “Jesus died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Well that big negative thing, the thing no one wants to talk about because it brings us down, sin, God says we are not guilty. And if you want to say otherwise, go talk to Him about it. I’m not sure you can go as far as to say we can be optimistic about our sin but not even sin has to keep us from being optimistic.
God is on our side so that no one can condemn us or bring any charges against us, all our sins are forgiven. Does that sound too good to be true? How do we know that this is true? St. Paul give us the ultimate argument. (verse 32) Everyone knows that the ultimate sacrifice is if I give up my life for you. So if I am willing to die for you why would I hold back anything else from you. There is only one thing higher than that and every parent know it. I would rather give up my life than the life of one of my children. And that is the picture here. God even gives up his son to save us. So we know He is on our side. We know that He will freely give us anything less than His son, which includes a lot, everything. Are we optimistic yet?
I can hear the pessimism coming out. It is like when I’m watching the Antiques Road show and some guy has a vase worth $40,000 and you know what I think. I’d be afraid I’d drop it. It is great to have the amazing thing where God is on my side and my future is bright but what if I lose it. St. Paul is on step ahead of us. (Verses 35-39)
If that doesn’t make you want to stand up and shout, I don’t know what would. Isn’t that something? Talk about positive thinking! Talk about optimistic! All those things. All those things and the list is almost infinite….all the things that can wedge in between you and Jesus. Some of the things you might think would be able to do it, like persecution. In St. Paul’s day it was a real threat. People were putting swords to their throats and saying deny Christ, separate yourself from him. Hardship. I thought God was on my side why am I having all these bad times. Will that cause me to lose my faith? St. Paul gives us some examples of things that you might think would do it. But we could add to that list. Famine and Nakedness, maybe but what about prosperity? Persecution sure, but what about secularism, humanism, materialism.
I guess the somewhat scary thing about this is that St. Paul does not say that you won’t suffer any of these things, that there won’t be danger or hardships. The fact is, there will be these things. He doesn’t say we won’t suffer from them or be tempted by them. What he does say is that they will not be able to separate you from God’s love. Nothing in all of creation will separate you from God’s love for you.
And that is why we Christians ought to be the most optimistic people on earth. It is not because we are Pollyannas. It is not from looking at our world through rose colored glasses. Our optimism is based on a God who gave his son for us, who is on our side because he loves us and nothing can change that. AMEN