Bethany Lutheran Church, Bigfork, MT


Pastor Christopher's sermons are available in three formats.

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Sermon 6-17-2018

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

2 Corinthians 5


Pastor Christopher Miller


Some of you know how sore I am today. Yesterday, just outside the eastern edge of Glacier Park, I ran my second half marathon. This race was unique for me, though, not just because of the distance. This is the first race I've had to camp out for. The organizers set up a campground for participants to stay the night, and then we would be shuttled to the start line in the morning. I decided that because I was going to be with you this morning, I wanted to make this as labor-averse as possible. So, I created a tent out of the back of our van. I could drive it like usual, then thanks to a couple tarps, some velcro, and some duct tape, I transformed it into my own private world. It was definitely nice to be protected from the elements in this way.

In the beginning of 2 Corinthians 5, however, Paul has a different sort of tent in mind. He speaks of the tent of our body. But this tent is different. I took my tarps down at the end of the race and drove home, after a good nap. If someone had torn a hole in one, it really wouldn't have been a big deal. The hard sides of the van still exist, but if something happened to them, I might still be OK. Our tents, our bodies, are much more important than that. Paul uses the words "we groan" to describe what happens when our bodies go through trial. I know that there are many people in this room who understand exactly what Paul is talking about. Like me, you may groan just standing up. But knowing what Paul has been talking about in the previous chapter, we know he's not just talking about physical pain, physical groaning. He's talking about that groaning from the pain of this life, especially the pain that comes our way because we are doing the work of the Lord.

But that pain is going to come, in this flesh. Because unlike my van tent, I and my tent are one. There is no separation between some sort of spiritualized "self" and my body. We like to talk about body, soul, spirit, but to be frank, that's a notion that comes from Gnosticism, those who believed the body was bad. From the earliest parts of the Bible, God has declared that the body, the creation, was good. That's why we hurt, even in our "soul", when our bodies hurt. They are nothing but one and the same. And Paul knows that we need to be clothed. If we were to be found naked, we would be separated from everything. And look at verse 4: our groaning does not come from the fact that we want to be naked, that we want to be spiritual but not religious, it comes from the fact that we want God's clothes to cover and change our clothes. We want the mortal to be swallowed up by life. Deep down, our body knows that what it thinks is life is not really life. Deep down, our body aches to have the real life, the resurrection life, the life from the Lord.

And we know that life is coming. We know that one day we will be, as Paul puts it, "away from the body and home with the Lord." That's where the confidence comes from. That's where the ability to do the work of Christ comes from. If we believe that the work that God wants us to do is coming from inside of ourselves, that we are responsible for any results that come, and that we are going to be destroyed because of it, most of us would probably not take that risk. In fact, Grace and I watched a show that talked some about risk this week. Your brain is always trying to manage the risks around you, but we don't do a very good job of measuring that risk. The classic example of this is our measurement of the difference in risk between driving your car and flying in an airplane. When I was younger, I was a terrible flyer. I would get off the plane, and my legs would be sore with all the tension I had been carrying. I was so scared of dying. Your odds of being killed in an airplane crash are 1 in 9,821. Your odds of being killed in a car crash are 1 in 114.

Now, apply this to the work that Paul was called to, and that we are called to. Well, sort of apply it. If we were "walking by sight", if we were in that fleshly brain, if we were analyzing this like anything else in the world, the chances of death by following Christ would be 1 in 1. Something in us always dies when we do the work of God, up to and including our very selves. But, when we walk by faith, the odds of death by following Christ become astronomical. And there is one very important reason for that: he already died the death. He already died our death for sin, so that we can receive his life, that we can be clothed in his righteousness, that our tents can be covered in immortality. And we have received all this through his work for us already. That's why the goal is always to please him, not manage risk. He's put all the risk on his shoulders. He's taken all the failure on his shoulders. He's taken your very death on his shoulders. And he uses it to give you your eternal house, your eternal tent, which can never be destroyed, and is right next door to his. And in that promise, we have faith. AMEN.



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Audio Sermon - 6-17-2018 - Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 2 Corinthians 5

PDF Sermon - 6-17-2018 - Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 2 Corinthians 5

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Audio Sermon - 6-10-2018 - Third Sunday after Pentecost - 2 Corinthians 4

PDF Sermon - 6-10-2018 - Third Sunday after Pentecost - 2 Corinthians 4

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Audio Sermon-6-3-2018 - Second Sunday after Petecost-2 Corinthians 4

PDF Sermon-6-3-2018 - Second Sunday after Petecost-2 Corinthians 4

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