Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Response to the Gift

Response to the Gift


“For God so loves the world that he gave his one and only son so that those who believe will have everlasting life”


I want you for a minute to think about these words. It is a familiar verse and one we have all heard and most of us have memorized. Even people not associated with the church know this verse - which is really sad if you think about it.
I want you to look closely at this verse and really consider what it means….
It starts out with God. Whatever we believe about ourselves, our relationship with God starts with God. God made you. God knows every hair of your head. God knows every thought you have. God knows every action you take - and the ones you think about and don’t take. There isn’t a thing about you God doesn’t know. And still - God loves you.
And God thinks so much of you that he formed this community for you to be a part of. Because he knew that this particular group of people would be perfect to love each other, to care for each other and to be able to work together to maintain this church and to help this church be a light to the world….
That is God’s love. He chose you to be a part of his work; his mission; his people. Often we get caught up in thinking that when we think of God’s choosing us it has to be something grand…. That God chooses people to save the world; and that is far from the truth. God chooses people who will be obedient enough to be willing to do what God has gifted them to do. Paul’s great words that he repeats in several of his letters - some are teachers and some apostles and some are administrators and so forth. Paul says the church is like a body where some are the ears and some the fingers and some the ankles but everyone is a part and everyone is valuable and everyone has a purpose. That purpose may be to lead a committee or to serve a committee or to clean or to teach or to preach or to lead worship or to work on bushes or to send cards or to be a faithful example by just being here every Sunday or by praying for those in need each day. Nothing grand - pretty much just ordinary stuff but all the ordinary stuff is essential for God’s church to be able to do the work God has laid before it.
One of the churches I use to be a part of had a shut in who every Monday morning would call the church office and ask for all those who had been named that Sunday who needed prayer. She was home bound, but she was still a valuable part of that congregation and she did what she was able to do - to spend time each day in prayer.
Everyone has a part and everyone can play a part and I guarantee that if you are willing to be obedient and fulfill the role God has for you, you will be the one who is blessed.
But lets continue with that all important verse…..
So we know that it all begins with God - us, the church, our part in the church - it is all about God.
And we know that God loves us - regardless. Regardless. No strings attached. No heavenly checklist we have to complete. No medal for good behavior we have to earn. God loves us just as we are - the good days and the bad days. And you know what - you can’t even make him not love you….
How much does God love you? God loves you so much that he gave his one and only son for you. What that means is that the most precious thing that God had - he was willing to give it up for you. I want you to just think about that for a minute. And we really need to individualize that thought. God gave out of the love of his heart, not from any obligation; not because he didn’t have a choice; not because you asked him to; not for any other reason than the fact that he loved you. Each of you. All of you. Everyone of you.
God loved you…. loved you so much that he not only willing gave his son - but sacrificed his son for you. Think of that word sacrifice and think about what it means.
I know in the Bible Study classes I have mentioned this a couple times but if any on you have seen the movie - The Passion. Mel Gibson’s version of the crucifixion. And I have to admit that that movie really changed my life. Mel Gibson did a lot of research into what a Roman crucifixion was like during that time period and so the depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus was as accurate as was possible. It was hard to watch. But what it does is really help us understand what God did for us. We can talk about how horrible the crucifixion was - but seeing it brings it to a whole new level of understanding. This horrific act of sacrificing his most valued possession is what God did for you.
And so many people want to shove that aside because it is painful and uncomfortable and we don’t like to feel either one of those.
But really realizing the cost of our relationship with God just does something to the way you think about yourself and the way you think about God.
You know some days we don’t like ourselves very much. Some days we don’t feel loved or worth much or necessary to even exist in this world. And that is when you have to stop and say - but I was so valuable to God that he gave his son for me. That is how much God thinks of me. That is how much God loves me. Wow. Does that not put your life in a new perspective?
And what do we have to do to earn that kind of love? Believe it happened. That’s it. So you don’t have to earn that kind of love - it is a gift. You don’t have to accept you - you just have to believe you already have it. You don’t have to go get it or reach out and grab it you just have to believe that you have it already. That’s it. Nothing else. Nothing else.
And what do you get out of it - a personal relationship with God forever. What a remarkable gift that is. There is no other gift in the world as great as that one.
And you didn’t have to lift a finger to get it. God just loved you and gave it to you - at an extreme expense to himself.
Stewardship is the response to that remarkable gift we have been given. Not out of guilt, not even out of a sense of responsibility, not because we have been given something so remarkable that we want to give something back, not because we think we have this holy gift we have to repay……
But because we understand what God is trying to do - because we understand that as recipients of God’s amazing love, we can be part of this great life changing, world changing movement; a movement that can help others come to experience that same love and grace that we have realized in our lives. That in small little increments we can make a difference through God’s love of us…..
And we make that difference through this tool that God gave us called the church - a community of people who come together and see the possibility of what can happen through the love of God - because we have experienced it ourselves.
That is really what Stewardship is all about.
Amen