A few weeks ago, like hundreds of pastors and preachers across the country, Rob preached a Reformation sermon. Our worship was a little extra that day since not only were we marking the 500th celebration of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, we were celebrating paying off a mortgage in less than three years in a joint service with a sister church. Another layer was added to the sweetness of the day as we contemplated the history of two churches that used to be one and how God had gifted friendship and genuine love where before there had been angst and turmoil.
The whole sermon was good and even though the themes of death and Resurrection are familiar to me viewing it as being torn apart and reformed into something else, something more, was beautiful. Rob sent me a copy of it so I could share part of it here.
God loves to tear things apart. We don’t often think about God in these terms, perhaps, but the biblical record (and what we observe in history and in our own experience) shows us that it is so.
If we go back to the creation narrative we can see that God is immediately about the business of tearing things apart – of separating thing from thing. He divides the day into light and dark – day and night. He made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse.
When we get to man, God separated some of the dirt he had made and formed it into a man and breathed life into him with his own Spirit. Then he took the man and put him into a deep sleep – a kind of death – and tore from him through a hole in his side part of his body. And from the rib he took from the man he formed the woman.
He loves tearing things apart. But notice that he doesn’t just rip them apart because he’s dissatisfied with them. Rather, he tears them apart in order to re-form them. The things divided become complements of each other, making a new thing. The one day is made up of day and night. The two humans (male and female) are then brought together and become one flesh.
Even in the case of our Lord who is Life itself, God separated his Son from life and in a sense from himself (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?). But, of course, he was raised from death and was reunited with life in a new, glorified way.
God separated Abraham from the other nations to create a unique people for himself, but even here we see in Ephesians (and elsewhere, of course) that God is remaking from the two one new man.
Even we ourselves are subjected to separation from ourselves (God killing in us that which separates us from him) in order to be put back together, to be human in the way our Lord would have us be human.
Sometimes in the midst of busy seasons it’s easy to get caught up in the finish the thing move on to the next thing moments. But always I want to be mindful of how God is at work and, like the woman at the end of the pregnancy yearns to feel the pain of contractions that she knows will bring about the arrival of her babe, I long to feel the pains of God at work tearing me apart and reforming me more and more into the image of His Son.