May 22, 2016: Trinity Sunday

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED, HOLY, TRINITY!

TEXT: Romans 5: 1-5

Dearly Beloved By The One True God:

I know a strong Christian who prays each day: “Lord, protect me from myself!” The point is: more often than not we bring our own problems upon ourselves. Yes, life throws curve balls at us. Yes, accidents in which we were totally innocent can occur. But, the bulk of our troubles in this life are a direct result of bad choices and stupid mistakes that we make. We don’t have, or stick to, a budget. We spend on the credit card and money troubles occur. My bad. We eat poorly and consume too many calories. Suddenly our joints ache and arthritis sets in.—Look to yourself! We offend others with our thoughtless speech. The list is endless. Lord, protect me from myself!

The result of our various troubles is: inner upheaval. Sleepless nights occur, the stomach churns, heartburn happens, we’re irritable and stressed. We have no real inner peace. Modern society tells us that there are solutions to this lack of peace. Take a stress reduction class, go to an acupuncturist, or just seek out the local shrink. They will sort it all out. Superficially, that may be true. But, when big stresses happen: really sick kids, the untimely death of someone close, or even your own impending mortality, well, hardship and trouble seems to multiply and all that old “junk” comes back. The point is: human “peace” is not Godly peace. Godly peace is real. It is lasting. It sustains us no matter what. Because when we’re at peace with God it means we’ll be at peace forever—no holds barred.

St. Paul was no stranger to troubles in life. Recall that he had enemies that followed him literally to the ends of the earth throughout his ministry and raised a ruckus against him at every turn. Paul could have easily blamed God for all of this. We all do, or are tempted to think: “If God really loved me, none of this would happen, so He must not care about me.” And yet, Paul never did that because He knew what real Godly peace was. He knew where it came from. And he knew that nothing could ever separate him from the love God had for him in Jesus Christ! So, here the Apostle says to you: “Therefore, since we have been justified (declared forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross) through faith, we have peace with God our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

Humans cannot achieve real inner peace, let alone peace with God, on their own. We’re sinners. We’re born with the negative power of inner evil and thus so corrupted that we cannot stamp it out on our own. We need God’s help to do so. We need to Trinity, our Creator God, to make peace with us and thus work lasting peace in our hearts. The Father planned all this out. The Son put that plan into action. And the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of that plan to us. So, the entire Trinity, the One True God, is operative when it comes to giving us true peace. And remember: God never makes mistakes and so when He gives us such peace through faith in Christ, it is real, perfect, and lasting. And His gift of peace is born of grace: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!

Suddenly, your life takes a turn for the better! Now you can cope with troubles. Now you have perspective so they don’t seem so overwhelming. Put your bills, or your medical issues, or your problem relationships up against eternal life with God. They are but momentary blips on the radar of existence, aren’t they? “And we boast in this hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame (or disappoint us), because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Looking back on my heart surgery one year ago, I can see God’s hand in action. I suffered with a bad valve for many years. The last couple of months were tough on my psyche. I just wanted it done so that I could start my recovery. And if it didn’t work and I died on the table, well, I’d be free and in heaven. Such suffering reinforced my faith and my perseverance. It gave birth to a more well-rounded and compassionate character. And it helped solidify my hope, my certainty, that God is in charge, the Trinity is in my corner, and God has given me life to do more work for Him.

Most people don’t look at big troubles that way. But Christians do. We know our lives are not in our hands, but in God’s hands. Our hands are small and weak. But God’s hands are almighty. Knowing that makes us fearless. Knowing that causes the best part of us to even glory in our sufferings because we know that God will be glorified in and through them.

Today a little Ella has begun her journey of Christian faith through her baptism. She has been baptized not in the name of some generic “god” that may or may not exist and may or may not have any tangible power to help her. No, she has been baptized in the name of the blessed, holy Trinity—Who made heaven and earth. She has put on Christ’s robe of perfect righteousness because He put it on her. And in her small little body, she thus possesses the power of God, Himself. It is the same power you have. It is the awesome power to glory in life’s sufferings knowing that from suffering comes perseverance which breeds strong character leading to Godly hope which never, ever disappoints.

This is the real meaning of having “peace with God.” This is the backstop for a life of true joy and inner contentment. It begins with God, it comes from God, it is put into action by God, and it finds its culmination with God. The only thing standing in the way of a blessed, peace-filled life is: you and your sinful side. But God has also given you the power of your baptism to turn away from your sin and turn into His loving heart. My Christian friend knows that. And that’s exactly why that person prays each day: “Lord, protect me from myself.” Amen