I get to preach at the Annual Hartford Jamboree Days service in the park today. I was given the freedom to preach on whatever I wanted and eventually decided to preach from Romans 1 and Colossians 1.
Here’s the introduction followed by the outline.
You don’t have to live in the world long before concluding that it’s got problems. You don’t have to experience much of life before you come face to face with the fact that life in this world is imperfect and that it’s probably imperfect because there are so many people in it. As people, we often say, “nobody is perfect” and what we mean is that, as people, we fall far short of perfection, happiness, and contentment. We see the brokenness of our world in every national disaster, every funeral, and personally, in every broken and imperfect relationship. You know this to be true. Deep down we know that we are broken and incomplete because we spend so much of our time wishing things were better and wondering and scheming and fantasizing about how we can make our lives better than they are.
There are all kinds of opinions as to what the root of the problem is. There are all kinds of diagnoses for the root of the imperfection and the brokenness in us as people.
We all have our own ideas about what the problem is and what would make our lives happier and better. One of my favorite authors puts it this way; he says, “My idea of happiness is new roads, paid for by other tax payers who choose not to use them.”
I love that statement because it goes to the heart of how we think as people. As people we are prone to think that our problems are strictly external, that they really have nothing to do with us. Let me try to explain it this way.
How often have you thought or heard something like this.
I would be happy, I would be ok, I would be at peace if…
My father had been nicer to me – if my mother would have hugged me more – if my parents had been more supportive.
If my boss wasn’t such a jerk – if my kids behaved and respected me
If I had more vacation time – if I had a better job
If I had more friends – if I lived somewhere exotic and interesting
If I was as pretty as she is – if I was as smart as he is
If I had that car – that house – that boat
If I was married to her instead of my wife – If was married to that guy instead of my husband
If he was my boyfriend, if she was my girlfriend
If I had more money…
I would be happy.
Whether we want to admit it or not, this is how we think. This is how we define our problems and this is how we seek our own peace and happiness.
However, If we submit ourselves to the Bible today, we’re going to find that our most fundamental problem is not necessarily owing to our circumstances in life but rather the condition of our hearts.
The Bible is going to tell us today that our most fundamental problem and is that you and I have traded the Glory of God for the lesser, temporary glory of the things that God has created. Let me put that another way. My fundamental problem, and your fundamental problem, is that instead of worshiping God you and I have traded the worship and adoration of God for the worship and adoration of lesser, temporary, inferior, created things.
Listen to how the Apostle Paul talks about this in Romans 1.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
The Bible says that we have exchanged the truth for a lie, and that although, deep down, we know that God is real, that he is good and kind to us and gives us what we need to live and breath and that he deserves our worship – even though we instinctively know this – we suppress that truth and we refuse to acknowledge him, refuse to thank him, refuse to honor him and instead give all of our honor, all of our thanks, all of our hearts to the things that he created.
Glory, in case you don’t know exactly how to define it, is basically what is most famous or significant in your life – it’s what ever shines brightest in your life. That’s the Bible’s definition of glory.
The Bible says instead of making God the famous one, instead of giving him the honor he deserves and will actually make us happy – we have turned to lesser pleasures, shady idols and false pursuits to make us happy. We have given fame, given weight, given prominence, and given glory to things that have no glory in them.
Our central problem is that we have exchanged the glory of God for the glory of created things.
Now at this point, you might be thinking, “Well, I’m still waiting to hear why this is a problem. I’m not that miserable. These things that you say God has created are still pretty enjoyable to me and I get enough satisfaction out of them to get by and I don’t really see why, if God is going to give them to us, we shouldn’t enjoy them. What’s the real problem with me, if I’m not that interested in God, exchanging his glory for something I can see, smell, hear and touch?”
The problem with thinking this way is that God didn’t give us this creation so we could thumb our nose at him. He gave you this creation, he gave you breath and food and life and the sun and the stars and the lakes and the oceans in order to point you to Him.
Acts 17 says,
“26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.
He gave us a world that can’t fully satisfy our deepest longings, a world that can’t really meet all of our needs because he is trying to show us that He’s the only one that can full satisfy us, and make us happy forever.
What we’re doing when we exchange the glory of God, for the glory of created things is telling the Perfect, and Holy, and Just, and Wise, and Good and fair, and merciful and amazing God of the whole universe that he is not good enough for me.
My friends, I am here today to tell you this is nothing short of treason. This is nothing short of rebellion against a perfectly Holy and Good and Kind God and his patience will not last forever and his justice is coming and therefore our central problem is that we have told God that he is not good enough for us – we have taken all that he has given us to enjoy and we have corrupted it and made it our god.
We are sinful idolaters and God’s wrath is revealed, as Romans 1 says, against us. God’s justice is coming for us and short of a miracle – we are going to be found guilty. That is first and foremost, our most central problem.
So, what are hopeless, sinful, truth suppressing, glory exchanging idolaters like you and me to do? How can we be saved?
Now that you know the bad news, I want to tell you some really good news. The good news is that in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, you have hope. In Jesus Christ you can be saved and in him you will taste supreme and everlasting joy.
Jesus Christ is your only hope because…
I. He is your Sovereign Creator (Colossians 1:15-19)
II. He is the Reason You Exist (Colossians 1:16)
III. He is the only one that can make peace between you and God (Colossians 1:13, 19-20)