September 5, 2010: Life Lessons

Let us pray: Dear Savior, open our ears and our minds to Your eternal truths! Cause us literally to: read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. Indeed, give us the wisdom of the ages and also the inner fortitude to follow it! Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, IN WHOM ALL WISDOM RESIDES

TEXT: Hebrews 13: 1-8

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

Perusing my “Wall Street Journal” this past week, I came across and interesting article. It was about how younger people are increasingly not listening to the advice of older people. They view it as archaic and out of touch. The demographers have dubbed my generation the “baby boomers.” The next generation, basically running from their mid 30’s to mid 40’s is called Generation X. Then you also have the Gen Y group from 18 to 32. It is this Gen Y group that turns to their peers and the advice they receive on social networking sites for wisdom. To them older folks are just that—old and out of touch with modern life. My first thought, as I read the article was: “Thank you very much!” My second thought was: “What does this mean for preaching and teaching in the church?” My third thought was: My generation has done a lousy job when it comes to their kids and grandkids. We gloried in tearing down social structures in the 60’s and 70’s and those chickens have now come to roost upon our own heads!

It wasn’t always so. Yes, as they grow up younger people of every generation chaff under the constraints of their elders. Yes, they think they are smarter than any one else who has ever lived and they believe they feel their emotions far deeper. Such is the nature of youth—you just don’t have as many life experiences to draw upon as older folks. However, throughout history all societies respected the wisdom that comes with age. We even have a word for it: sage advice. A sage is someone who is old and wise. Put the two together and you’ve got wisdom, which avoids mistakes and frustration. About 75 years ago, modern man began warehousing the elderly in what used to be called: “Old folks homes” and are now called: “retirement communities.” Until then, when you got older you lived with your kids and grandkids, dispensing your wisdom to them on a daily basis. I surmise that this modern generational disconnect can be traced directly to that change. Anyway, it is a tremendous waste of wisdom.

Well, our lesson doesn’t waste any of God’s wisdom. It gives us directives that are timely, practical, and always pertinent to how we should live in order to have blessed lives. And so, today, let’s discuss some of its:

LIFE LESSONS

I

In our day of political correctness where most people talk the talk, but few walk the walk, the writer begins by taking us back in time. He takes us back to Abraham openly welcoming strangers to his tent and giving them a feast fit for a king—not knowing at the time that 2 of those strangers were angels and the third one was Jesus Christ Himself. And so, with this as a backdrop, the writer tells Christians to: “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Obviously these words apply to all our social interactions, but especially to our treatment of fellow Christians. In the age they were written, Christians were under attack from many quarters and persecuted beyond our imagination. Many of the first readers of these words knew of friends or relatives in the hell-hole prisons of that age. Suffering people need our prayers, our words of encouragement, and also our actions backing them up. As Christ says: “whatever you do to the least of these my brothers, you do unto me.” The first life lesson is that Christians should always treat others with love and respect because those people have a soul that Christ has died for. Do you look at unknown people that way? If not, why not?

II

Here comes another timeless life lesson: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Every parent looks upon their newborn for the first time and exclaims: “It’s a miracle!” They’re right. And how did that miracle occur? Well, one sperm cell and one egg cell came together—just right—and a human being was created. And just as a man and a woman were needed to achieve that miracle, so the newborn continues to need a father and mother to foster their development. This is one of the great fruits of marriage. The other great blessing of marriage is the togetherness, the closeness, the unity of purpose that become intertwined between a man and a woman. Human sexuality is a beautiful gift from God that has beautiful results when His wise guidance is followed. When it is not followed huge heartache results. Yes, sex can and does bring people together. But it also tears people apart. It destroys a persons inner self and rips out their heart—when God’s way isn’t followed. The “free love” baby boomers forgot this truth, the divorce rate surged, and now their kids and grandkids are reaping their whirlwind. Perhaps more of them need to say to their sexuality liberated kids: “I was a fool. I was wrong. Dabbling with sex before marriage has hurt all of us. Follow God and keep yourself pure until its time for the marriage bed.”

III

Then there’s this: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'”

All the wealthy people I knew as a child are all dead. And none of them took even one dime with them to the beyond. Some of them, who were Christians didn’t live beyond their means, weren’t showy with their wealth, and appeared quite happy with life. But I recall others who were never content with anything and always chased after more, more, and more until the day they died. It’s almost as if they believed they could outrun death if they had enough money. Well, we cannot outrun death. So why let our fear of it ruin our lives? Better to trust in God’s goodness—revealed to us especially upon the cross. Better to cling to Christ and His promise to never leave us all alone. Better to let Him order our lives—especially those parts beyond any human control—and walk by faith and not by sight. It may sound corny to the modern ear, but wise people have repeated this truism for eons: “You can’t buy happiness.” And the Christian knows that we can’t and don’t have to because Christ already bought it for us on the cross!

IV

Here’s the final Life Lesson: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Heroes of faith: Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, Dr. Martin Luther, even your beloved Christian grandparents in glory today—their faith, their wisdom speaks to us this very day. None of them adopted the modern mindset of the Generation Y which is: “I’m special because I’m me.” No, instead they all were a lot more humble than that. The hard lessons of life kicked their selfish little pride out of them so that God could replace it with the wealth of Christ’s forgiveness. And so, all of them teach us: “I’m special because Christ loves me. Moreover because Christ is the same forever, so is His love for me, and that’s why I’ll always be special.” No matter your age, each of you can learn much from God’s life lessons. And that learning experience will never cease. Meanwhile, above them all, inscribe this motto from St. Paul: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Amen