We Need Faith

Good Sunday Evening!  The thought just crossed my mind that I never posted my sermon last week.  I ended up sick and out of the office for three days!  I’ll post it sometime this week (I don’t have it on my laptop otherwise I would post it tonight).

Here is this morning’s sermon – enjoy!

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
March 9, 2014

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Romans 5:12-19

We Need Faith

Oh, the story of Adam and Eve.

Original Sin.

The fall of man.

Judgment brought to nature and humankind.

The apparent reason childbirth is so painful for women.

This should be fun to preach on.

I struggle with this passage. I think many of us grew up with a very black and white understanding of this story. Adam and Eve at the forbidden fruit (okay, okay, I guess technically it was Eve’s idea), became mortal and a new reality fell upon the earth where humankind was subject to sin and death.

Because of what happened in the garden, we are all sinners, born that way and plagued by the devil that taunts us daily. This is why God needed to send Jesus to save us. This is why people must accept Jesus into their hearts and into their lives in order to be saved.

These are not easy things to talk about.

In fact, this is the kind of fire and brimstone type of preaching that I try to avoid.

But I think that there is a real truth to what happened in the garden that is unavoidable. And actually I think there is real truth to what happened in the garden that strengthens our faith in a beautiful and overwhelmingly powerful way.

Let me put this on the table right away. I have not completely wrapped my head around the concept of Original Sin. I do not know if human beings were originally created to be good until it all fell apart in the garden. I do not know if human beings are born into each new generation as sinners. I do not know if there is some precise theological equation that must be used in order to achieve salvation.

Even if you look – really look – at this text from Genesis, these questions are not necessarily answered, either.

What do we know from this story? We know that God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and told them that they were allowed to eat off of every tree in the garden except for the tree of knowledge. We know that the serpent came and tempted them to try something off of the tree of knowledge. We know that even though Eve told the serpent that God told them not to eat from tree of knowledge that she ultimately gave in to this temptation; that she ate the forbidden fruit, gave some to her husband and suddenly their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked.

We know from this story that humanity is – and has always been – broken. We know from this story that even thousands of years ago, human beings were imperfect. We know from this story that when men and women are given two choices, they often know which choice is right and which choice is wrong, but sometimes they still do not do the right thing.

In many ways, this story does not sound very different from the world that we are living in today. We make mistakes – all of us do. We are not perfect. We may know the difference between right and wrong, but sometimes we do not live that out. We are – like Adam and Eve – broken.

We are human.

But despite this fact, God does not give up on us.

Hear what one author has to say about how God responds to our brokenness:

Despite the brokenness that results from our defiance of the good and gracious limits that make for the flourishing of life in community, there is already in the story a note of gospel that echoes throughout Scripture. As the narrative unfolds, God does not carry out the threatened sentence of death “in the day that you eat of it” (2:17). In God’s sovereign freedom, God responds to human disobedience, not with the full weight of judgment, but with unexpected mercy. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). {Allen C. McSween, Jr. | Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 2, Page 30}

The passage from Romans that we read this morning reminds us that sin does not have the final answer. Our failings as human beings – our shortcomings and our wrong decisions – do not have the final answer. God has the final answer – always.

In this passage from Romans, Paul takes an opportunity to draw a comparison between the sin of Adam and the salvation of Jesus. The implication is that because of one man – Adam – all humans are sinners, but because of one man – Jesus – all humans are also saved.

I got to thinking about the argument that Paul is making here and I started to visualize a scale that is trying to find balance. One on side of the scale you have the sin of Adam (okay, okay, I guess technically Eve should also be put in the scale, too) weighing down humanity with original sin. In order for balance to be reached, in order for human beings to be lifted from this sin that weighs them down, they need something. They need Jesus.

In a similar accord, we are also weighed down. We as human beings – we as individuals, we as spouses, we as parents, we as children, we as employees and we as community members – we are weighed down. You could say that we are weighed down by original sin, but I think that it is actually a lot simpler than that. I think that we are simply weighed down by being human. We are weighed down by our impulses and our desires. We are weighed down by our imperfections. We are weighed down by our frustrations and our jealousies. And we need something – something – to be lifted from these things that weigh us down.

{Play the first few stanzas of Help!}

The Beatles said it best: “Help, I need somebody, Help, not just anybody, Help, you know I need someone, help!”

Guys, we need faith.

It’s not enough to just live our lives, we need to live our lives with faith. We cannot always seek balance through material or earthly things, but we need to seek balance through God. We cannot try to fix our imperfections and our failures and our mistakes in human ways, but we need to let grace make us whole. We cannot just read and believe the Gospel, but we need to live out the Gospel.

Faith does not exist to move the Christian movement forward, it exists for us! We need faith in our lives.

The passage from Romans that we are looking at right now begins on the 12th verse of the fifth chapter, but the first verse of chapter five really says it all:

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” {Romans 5:1}

Friends, if there is one thing that the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden teaches us, it is that we cannot do this alone. This – life, relationships, rules, balance – is not something that we should try to do without God’s help.

Whether we are weighed down by the sins of one man or simply by the challenges of being human, we need something in our lives that will lift us up and carry us forward. We need faith.

We need God to be active and working in our lives, to always be available and accessible to us. We need God to be able to know our prayers, even when we cannot find the words to speak them ourselves.

We need the love and the support of a church community that is going to encourage us, support us, love us and remind us that there is good in the world.

We need good relationships that are grounded in faith and stabilized by grace.

We need faith in our lives.

Carry your faith with care in your lives. In good times, in bad times and everything in between – you will need that faith. Let us give thanks to God for this wonderful gift to us in faith.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

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