It really is about us.
JANUARY 30, 2023
It really is about us. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We are dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. Steve is an author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, I wrote a book, I’m going to keep doing this until I get it right, and the name of the book is called Laughter and Lament, The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. And whenever a book is published that I’ve written, I take some time on the broadcast to spend on that particular book. It’s a shame to waste all of the months that I took putting this together, if I can’t get some extra out of it. And so, you are the one. So, we’re going to, we’re taking time, we’re breaking in our study from Acts. And by the way, this book is Biblical study, it’s just a different kind of form. I didn’t make these ideas up. I got them from Scripture. So, we’re looking at that and last week we got started on this and started talking about the surprising laughter and lament of God. We saw last week that we’re created in the image of God. And because he laughs, we laugh because he weeps, we weep. And we’re going to talk about that. But first, let’s pray and then we’ll study. Father, we come into your presence, so glad to know that we are in your image and that some of the things that we feel and experience and go through are things with which you identify because you created us like you. We praise you for that. We praise you that you entered time and space and you loved us that much. We praise you that you promised to get us home before the dark. Father, you know everybody who’s listening to this broadcast and you know the hard places and the soft places, remind us that you’re the God of both, and that we can trust you to be sufficient for every need. And then Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast that you would forgive him his sins cause there are many. We would see Jesus and Him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. You know, you hear, and it’s become a cliche in Christian circles. It’s not about you, it’s about God, dummy. It’s not about us, it’s about him. Well, I get that, I’m a Calvinist, I’m reformed, I understand the sovereignty of God, I understand that he’s large and in charge as Pete Alwinson puts it, but there’s another side to this. When you start looking at Scripture, it really is about us too, isn’t it? The Incarnation is about us. Forgiveness is about us. Love is about us. Heaven is about us. And a relationship with God is about us. And so, it’s important to see that the laughter and the lament of God is also about us. It feels spiritual as well as somewhat self-righteous to say that, but while partially true, that statement misses a very important Biblical truth. It is about us. Paul wrote this, and this is I Corinthians 3:16.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple.
Now, that is in the plural, the you is. And so, he’s saying, do you not know that y’all are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you. That, by the way, isn’t a verse you can use to get your husband to quit smoking. It is in the plural, and it’s talking about everything that was created was created for us. I know, I know it’s about God, but it’s about us too. Listen to what Paul goes on and says in I Corinthians 3:21 through 23.
For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—it’s all yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
In other words, while it’s about God, it’s also about us. The reason for Creation is us, before God hung the stars in the sky, before he hollowed out the valleys and created the mountains, before he created the world and the sun and the moon, he thought about you and he thought about me and he knew our name. Love does that, you know, real love is focused on those who are loved.
For God so love the world.
Of course, John 3:16. That means it is about us. I’m often asked how one can sense the presence of God. Waiting and watching in the silence is of course, always appropriate. The Bible and prayer are a part of it, and the Christian means of grace and fellowship with God’s people, that’s helpful too. But did you ever think that sensing the presence of God happens when you laugh at a good joke or cry at a great loss? What if, what if that is the place where we hear the soft sound of sandaled feet more than at church? When we get the amazing message of God’s identification with us by creating us in his image, it becomes a real game changer. When we go through periods of great sadness and loss, mature Christians tell us to just grow up and deal with it. When we get to frisky and laugh, they tell us, just calm down and be serious. But what if both the sadness and the laughter are gifts from God? And not only that, what if that in every place where we encounter God is the place of our laughter and lament because of his own laughter and lament? What if that is the very definition of what it means to be human? Our laughter is free and joyful, our lament is deep and wrenching because restoration and the knowledge of it is what it means to be created in the image of God. It is a reflection, believe it or not, of the laughter and the lament of God himself. The Bible is full of God’s sadness and gladness, for instance, in Genesis 6:6, in Psalm 78:40, God is grieved, and in Hosea 11:8, there’s great pathos in God’s heart at the thought of giving up his people.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Oh Israel? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.
There’s also laughter and joy everywhere, Zephaniah 3:17 says this.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
And there are several passages in Jeremiah, where God weeps, Jeremiah 8:23, 9:9, 13:27. And it goes on and on. Listen, God’s gift to his people is the freedom to be real, and there is great power in that. Not only is it a gift, it’s also a reflection of God himself. When it hurts deeply and the tears flow, the tears of God are mixed with yours. When you laugh at a good joke, dance at a fun party and delight in a friend or someone you love, you can hear his laughter intermingled with yours. Do you know why the cross and the resurrection are so powerful and at the very center of the Christian faith? It’s because the cross is the place of God’s greatest sadness, pathos, and tears. And when Jesus a dead Messiah got out of the grave, it’s because the place where God’s laughter spilled over into a sad and broken world. The power of the cross, his and ours’, and the joy of the resurrection, his and ours’ is where we meet God in the most profound way. We’re often not what we appear to be. I have a friend who knows me well, who says I’m the most intense and inhibited friend he has. You seem loose and laid back and easygoing, but you’re not, he said. I asked Jesus and Jesus said, Bingo. So, I’m going to let Jesus change me. When I feel like laughing, I’m going to laugh. When I feel like crying, I’m going to cry real tears. Jesus said I could. And not only that, Jesus said that he would show me how, and I’m going to show you. Hey, you think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown resuming his exploration of the Biblical themes found in his latest book Laughter and Lament. And today we discussed the surprising idea that some of this is about us. We’ll continue from here tomorrow. Sure hope you will join us again then. My favorite Bible teacher said something recently that made me pop an ear bud out and press pause. How dare he. I mean, here we were just swimming along through the book he’s currently teaching and all of a sudden he decides to voice his political opinion, which just so happens to not coincide with my own. What was I gonna do with that? Well, that little excerpt is from an article by Kendra Fletcher, and you could find that article in the 2023 edition of Key Life Magazine. It’s new, it’s fantastic, and it’s free. So, claim your copy right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, just go to key life.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. Finally, would you prayerfully consider partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t even matter. Just text that to 28950 then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.