Originally scheduled for May 29
Most people are very familiar with what might be called the
“Smiley Face” view of Christianity. It’s particularly common among
Christians who are raised in the church, but never really thought
very much about it. Here’s how it goes:
We are wonderful people. Just look around at the nearest people to
you at a good church potluck. They are all smiling, you know them
all to be people who do good deeds — in short, wonderful people.
Therefore, we reason, God must love us because we are such wonderful
Being wonderful people, we do good deeds. Whether by what we put up
with or what we put forward, we can see that we are doing good
things. Therefore, we reason, that God must be greatly in our debt —
in short, he owes us.
Thus, if we encounter suffering, it’s obviously something which is
just not fair. What could God be thinking of? We’re the good guys;
we’re not supposed to suffer.
But consider: Christ, the ultimate good guy, suffered and
died on the cross. We are warned that if they did this to him, we
will encounter suffering as well. Perhaps our logic in thinking that
it is not fair might possibly be defective.
So let’s look at the “Frowny Face” view of Christianity.
It’s a little bit different:
Each and every one of us is a sinner. Each of us has a different
set of sins; some of us don’t like the sins of some of the others.
Some sin seems to have social approval, but the truth is — sin is
still sin. And we all have it.
God, in giving justice (pure justice) should quite well condemn us
along with everyone else. We are sinners; we are guilty and should
Therefore, if he doesn’t punish us (for whatever reason) we have
received a favor from God which we did not earn. Unmerited favor of
God; the very definition of grace.
So how is it that God treats us differently than those who
are not Christians? It is by the sacrifice of Christ that God’s
justice is satisfied. God laid the penalty for our sins on His
shoulders. Thus, and thus alone, is justice satisfied and mercy
granted. For this, we should at least be grateful. Indeed, we should
do more than that; we should make it a point to remember this
sacrifice and honor the one who made it. That is exactly why we have
communion — to remember the sacrifice and honor Christ who made it.
Communion is the reminder of the most important thing that could
happen in your life: the change in direction which leads you away
from Hell and towards heaven.
Therefore, when you partake of communion this morning, do
not do it lightly. Don’t take it as a matter of routine; thinking,
“we do this every Sunday.” And most certainly do not take it with
your mind wandering elsewhere. Rather, examine yourself to see that
you take it in a worthy manner. Repent where repentance is required;
give thanks in all these things.