The Validated Soul
Jan. 1, 2017
Rev. Michael A. Trask
As a pastor, you can probably guess that I have a lot of conversations with people about how how one becomes accepted into the the household of God. I mean that’s where the rubber meets the road isn’t it? How can I be certain that I will be among the people on his right hand who are welcomed into bliss when he returns in glory and with all his angels?
Though the details may vary greatly, this is really the question that resides in every human heart. How can my time on earth, my existence, my life, my deeds, my very being be cosmically validated, authenticated, reconciled, Justified? All around the world, no matter their culture, sex, or race, people seek to be justified. We simply cannot feel right unless our lives are justified.
The truth is were all given souls, souls that were meant to defer to God, souls that cannot really be at peace unless they do. Even those who insist that they don’t believe in God, still have souls that were created by him, and therefore still possess this same desire to justify their existence. So they will find ways to rationalize the ill behaviors and attitudes they possess. Maybe they will set arbitrary behavioral goals and good deeds for themselves and in the fulfillment of said goals they can claim the title of “good person” and thereby mollify what desire they might have had for justification.
Trouble is, the definition of good works is constantly changing and getting more difficult Used to be if a person tried to be kind, honest, hardworking, generous, and law abiding he would proudly point to his life and say, …. “Hey I’m good…I have justified my existence.
But the times, they are a changing. The list of good works required is growing. Besides all that stuff I’ve mentioned, now the question is how green can you be? How good at recycling are you? How pure is your food? Are you eating sustainably and locally? Have you stopped smoking…. tobacco that is, other forms of smoking don’t seem to be under scrutiny. Have you gone solar? IF you do all that and more, well then you can relax and call yourself a good person…. your existence is justified. You’re not one of those old school baddies. Your new school, your good.
But you got to wonder, how does this differ from the practice of Judaism? It’s got sacrifice, dietary laws and ritual and many other similarities with the pharisees of Jesus’ time.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not knocking any of this stuff. I’m not knocking seeking to be kind or honest or being careful about what you eat and eating locally…. I keep a huge garden in my back yard…. I love eating locally obviously…I love walking 100 steps into my yard, getting all the ingredients I need for a salad. One can’t get any more local than that! And even in this northern clime when we can go for weeks without sun in the winter, I think solar power is kind of cool in certain applications. I’m not knocking any of this stuff. What I am knocking is using this stuff in a religious way.
What do I mean by using using it in a religious way? I mean using these earthly activities to answer what is actually a spiritual question. I mean using these earthly activities to pacify your soul’s desire to be justified and validated. The truth of the matter is, we cannot be made right with God by anything that we do? Whether we do it in the old school way of being a good person showing up for work, being honest and decent or a new school way of recycling and consuming only correct foods ….. it doesn’t matter. We simply cannot justify our souls by anything we do.
Every single one of the scripture lesson for today tell us that it is God who justifies.
Start with Isaiah 61: Verse 10 it says “He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Who does the clothing and the covering? God does. Verse 11 says “the Lord will cause righteousness an praise to sprout up before the nations.” Who cause righteousness to sprout? God will. How will he do that? Next lesson
Galatians 4 verse 4 “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law.” Who sent his Son? God did. To do what? To redeem. To redeem who? Those under the law….. that’s us. That feeling that everyone has in their heart that tells them they need to be justified, that’s the law of God which he has been pleased to write upon the hearts of all people. so that they might at least long for what he is prepared to provide.
His Son would be born. His Son would grow up and live the perfect life that we have not lived. His Son would die the death for our sins that we could not die. In these way he would redeem us, justify us, validated us before God. By faith in him we are reconciled to God. So the big question that everyone has on their soul is answered by him. And what’s it feel like when it is answered?
Next lesson. Luke 2: In this Gospel we see a man name Simeon, a man who was said to be “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” In otherwords, he was waiting for the answer to the big question. How would Israel be saved? How it’s broken and sinful people be made right with God? In walks Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus. He sees him, and he knows that this is God’s answer, God’s solution to the question of how a soul is set right with God…. And as he held the baby Jesus he says “My own eyes have see your salvation” Which salvation? the Salvation which God has prepared.. Prepared for whom? Simeon says “Which you have prepared in the presence of all people a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” Jesus and the redeeming power of his life and death and resurrection is for everybody…. old school and new school alike. It is the answer to the question of “ how can my existence as a human being living on this planet be justified.”
So to be justified. Is a gift God would give to each of us through his Son. All the stuff he came to experience: his life his death, his resurrection had as it’s goal to answer the question of how sinful human beings like you and me can be justified. He answered it fully and perfectly. “It’s finished” he said. So start there. Seek justification there. And then as you live your life in the world, embrace the new found peace and freedom that you’ve been given and seek to do what is true and right and good…. not to justify yourself…. but because you have been justified and you now get it. AMEN