The Elephant in the Room
How do you avoid talking about the elephant in the room? If you have a visual imagination it's a fun thing to imagine. Just a big elephant sitting in the middle of the room, and everyone just pretending like its normal when it's obviously not. The elephant that is in the room for us today is the health and safety of our world, country, family, friends and ourselves. It’s a big elephant. One that dominates most conversations that I have had for the last two weeks. One that has caused us to cancel many events, take many precautions, and for many, to worry about many different scenarios that seem to be out of our control.
What we do every week here at our church is we read the word of God. We have the readings that we follow that have been planned years in advance. And our job as Pastors is to preach to you what God’s Word says. We don’t use the word of God as an oar to push our own agendas. Or just to talk about whatever is topical. We simply say this is what the Lord says. This is what the Lord meant as he was talking to the people of that time in the context that the original hearers heard it. This is what the word of God means for you.
We aren’t avoiding talking about the COVID-19 virus. But the truth is, there are more important things to talk about for us today. Talking about our status with God. Talking about our Savior. Talking about the peace and the comfort that he gives to us, even though all we deserve from him is punishment. That is something that we need to talk about all the time.
And with that understanding, we have some beautiful Words today that help us deal with whatever elephant is in our room that is in this room, and in the room wherever you are watching or listening to this sermon today. Whatever is going on in your life, if it is fear if it is another disease. If it is guilt, or pain or loss, if its just uncertainty, God’s word speaks to you. Because God’s word is timeless. It applies to us today even if it was written thousands of years before. Look what the word of God encourages us to do.
6 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
Now the context of this verse he is talking to Hosea to deliver a message to the children of Israel. They are God’s chosen nation. When they strayed away from God, God punished them directly. When they went off and worshiped other gods. He sent his prophets to let the children of Israel know that they were about to be taken away into exile, and they had real consequences for their actions. God told them that specifically. But God wanted his people to know if they turned from their ways. If they followed God’s laws, if they turned back to the Lord and began to worship the one true God he would turn from his judgment upon them and heal them and help them.
It’s different for us. Yes, we still live in a world of sin. And Yes there are still people that fail to acknowledge the one true, and insult him and do many evil things. But we do not have a prophet sent from the Lord that says to us, this is a direct punishment to certain people for certain sins. We live in a world of sin. We live in a world that has sickness and plague. Where COVID-19, Ebola, SARS, Swine Flu, Polio and the Plague rip through countries and cause sickness and death. And when all of those things happen the question that is on many people’s minds is why? Blame is thrown on anyone possible. Because something within us wants to assign fault for this suffering.
That’s a rabbit hole to go down that we don’t need to go. God doesn’t tell us why in his word the COVID-19 virus was released, or what the cure for it is, or how we should deal with a global pandemic of an infectious virus. He doesn’t tell us if there is always a direct correlation between hardship and action that we take. But he does tell us the ultimate source of all of this. “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men”
We can really blame different people all day long about this, we could even blame Adam and Eve for eating that fruit in the garden of Eden, because ultimately that is the source of all sin and evil for mankind, falling for the trick of the devil.
But how does that make us better today? What does that do to calm our troubled souls? What does that do to cleanse our guilty consciences? How does that cure the real disease of sin that has infected all of us?
We have a wonderful section from Romans today. Romans chapter 8.
8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:1–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
This is a powerful section from God. And there is a stark contrast between flesh and spirit. Flesh and blood, being human. Being in a world where all flesh is affected by sin. Where the virus’ can spread. Where lives can end. Where people can be hungry or in pain. All of that is flesh. And the desires of the flesh. The things that this body craves, being comfortable, satisfying urges no matter what it takes, looking out for numero uno. Survival of the fittest, I am going to get stronger, I am going to get smarter so that I can benefit from all of the great things that I have done! That’s flesh. Look at what I can accomplish. Look at what I can tame. Look at what I can control. Look at me. That’s flesh.
Well, all of that pride starts to slip away when we see what God really requires me to do. When I look at the law and realize that he wants me to be perfect. When I realize that a single sin makes all of my other work like filth rags. When I realize that my sin makes me patient zero and has a 100% mortality rate. When I realize that my actions might be impressive to other people around me, but compared to the standards of my God I am falling so short. That is a burden. Naturally, that causes fear. We think we are so strong until we approach something that so much stronger. Maybe that’s a virus, or another disease, or just age. It all makes us realize just how fragile our lives can be.
This is what it is like to live in the kingdom of the world. To just focus on flesh. To just look at human leadership to help. To just rely on yourself and your drive and your ambition to conquer the world. You can do amazing things. But somethings are not possible for you.
Which is OK. Because all things are possible with our God. He asks you not to focus flesh. He asks you to focus on the Spirit of life. Instead of waking up every morning and checking how many more positive tests are in our country and what the death toll is at. Before you look at your phone and check your computer. Think about what your God has done for you today. As verse 6 says
6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
The Holy Spirit has created faith in your heart to believe in the promises that God has declared to you in the Bible. Some of which have been fulfilled, and some of which he continues to fulfill every single day to you.
You wake up in the morning. Heres what you know for sure. Today, you are a child of God. Today you can wake up knowing that Jesus Christ has died on the cross and paid for all of my sins with his life and death on the cross. Today your God asks me not to worry because he is watching out for you. Today no matter what I hear on the news, you know that my God is in control of all things, and he asks me to pray to him in times of trouble and he will answer me. Keeping these truths of God’s Word in our hearts, in the front of minds and on the tips of our tongues, these are the things that bring us life and peace.
Just a few minutes of focus in the morning setting your mind on things above.
Every day we have a lot of work to do. It seems that there is going to be waiting in line at the grocery store, delays getting into doctors, offices, shortages on different things that we have grown used to being at our grocery store, adjustments in our budgets, and daily routines. All of these things are going to take our time, they are going to take our attention, they are going to take careful thought, and discipline to work through this difficult time. And all of them can make us focus only on what seems to be a whole heard of elephants that are in the room. But they are just matters of the flesh. Look above those elephants and foes on God and his love and his mercy and see life and peace.
But the Lord will heal us. The Lord will bind us up. He will raise us up and we will live in his sight. He will give us life and peace. Because we live our lives focused on the spirit of life. Focused on our gracious God. Looking above the hardships of this world, above even the biggest preverbal elephants, to the God of grace and mercy who is in control of all things.
God has forgiven your sins. God has cured you of that infirmity of which there was no cure except for Jesus Christ. God has brought you his word and created faith in your heart to believe this message. God has promised you everlasting life through this gift of faith that he has brought to you. God has promised never to abandon you and to be with you even when you feel lonely or in pain, he will hear you. Call on him. Read his word and listen to his answer. God will help us. God is with us. God has saved us.
You might not be able to avoid talking about the elephant in the room. But don’t forget to share the peace that your God gives you. That there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Because there are many people out there whose only focus is on the flesh, but you whose minds are set on the spirit to have been given life and peace. Share that life and peace with others.