Sermon 1.29.17 Epiphany 4

Micah 6:1-8    Epiphany 4.   Pastor Kenneth Frey    1/29/17

Would you take God to court?

1.  What is your case against God?

2.  What is God’s case against you?

3.  What is the solution?

I went to see my parents between Christmas and New Year.  They are getting older and I thought I should go see them when I can.  Besides a daily dose of several episodes of Gunsmoke, at 5:00 every afternoon they watch Judge Judy.  Any of you watch that show?  Judge Judy tells it like it is.  People come in with all kinds of lawsuits.  A guy sued his former girlfriend for taking the car and nor making any payments on it.  Brothers-in-law sued each other because one got stuck paying for a rental truck that the other drove without a license.  Some crazy stuff.

Would you ever take family to court?  It would seem like a sad day to me if things got so bad that family would be taking each other to court.  And over what?  Almost always it’s money.  

Would you take God to court?  I’m sure you are all thinking that you would never do that.  But I think people do that a lot.  Whenever they complain that God’s not fair or when they get angry with God, they are really taking God to court in their hearts, challenging his love and his plans.  

Micah was a prophet in Judea at the same time as Isaiah.  He saw the people of his day acting like they had a case against God.  Through Micah God said to them, “Rise. Plead your case to the mountains.  Let the hills hear your voice.”  2Hear, O mountains, the complaint of the Lord.  Listen, foundations of the earth, for the Lord has a case against his people, yes, with Israel, he will argue his case.  3“My people, what have I done to you, and how have I made you weary? Answer me!   God calls on the mountains and hills to hear the case.  They have been around since the beginning and they couldn’t be bribed like their corrupt judges.  The case begins, God starts.  He says, “Go ahead, bring all your evidence of how poorly you have been treated.”  

God says the same thing to us.  “God’s not fair,” you say.  Okay, bring your evidence.  You are angry with God?  Okay, why?  What has God done to you?  

Life’s not fair?  You’re right.  Discrimination happens.  Disease happens. Poverty happens.  Accidents happen.  War happens.  Plants close and people get laid off.  Two people work equally hard.  One oversees the loss of 6 billion dollars and keeps his job; the other gets fired for being late because he missed his bus.  Our daughters are so precious we would never let anything happen to them, but in Niger, Africa, of 10 girls between the ages of 11 and 15, 7 are married and 2 engaged because their fathers had too many mouths to feed to keep them around.  What’s fair about that?  

Life is not fair.  Is that God’s fault?  Really? Oh sure, you might find a few places in your life when God didn’t seem to show up, when things didn’t go as you thought they should, when you feel like God wasn’t doing enough or keeping his promises.  But has God really not done enough for us?  Has God really not done his part?  

What we are really saying to God is that he owes us.  We have done our part.  We have tried to be good Christian people so now God owes us.  That’s the attitude the people of Micah’s day had.  Listen to what they said to God:  6How will I meet the Lord?  How will I bow down to the God of heaven?  Will I meet him with burnt offerings, with one-year old calves?  7Will the Lord delight in a thousand rams, in tens of thousands of rivers of oil?  Will I give my firstborn for my sin, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  

Do you hear what they are saying?  They are bargaining with God.  They are implying that God demands too much from them, but they will do what ever is necessary because they are great people of God.  

That’s what we imply to God whenever we complain, whenever we say God’s not fair, whenever we get angry with God.  We are saying that God owes us.  Like the people of Micah’s day, we are transforming our relationship with God into a contract.  We do this and God owes me that.  And if God doesn’t pay up, then he’s cheating me.  God’s not fair.

In Judge Judy’s court, quite often the person who is sued, counter sues the other person.  God is doing that in our text.  My people, what have I done to you, and how have I made you weary? Answer me!   What case does God have against you?  

He had a case against the people of Micah’s day.  Corruption at the courts and among the priests was common.  Prostitution and incest was rampant.  The rich were getting richer at the expense of the poor.  Worship had become a mere formality, a ritual that had no bearing on the way they lived their daily lives.   In fact, they were willing to do extraordinary acts of worship as long as it didn’t really interfere with their lives.  A few more calves, a few thousand gallons of olive oil, even sacrificing a child would not be too much for them if it would buy God’s favor.  Just as long as it didn’t interfere with their lifestyle.  They were treating God like one of their corrupt judges, trying to buy him off with bribes.  

What case does God have against you?  Is our Sunday morning worship a mere formality?  Do our lives reflect our worship?  Sunday morning worship is intended to be a microcosm of our lives.  Is our worship of God restricted to this building or do we sing his praises the rest of the week?  Do we confess our sins to God daily?  Do we pray to him regularly?  Do we list to his Word often?  Do we give our lives as living sacrifices?  Or are we just as guilty as the people of Micah’s day of letting worship become just a formality that has no bearing on the rest of the week?  Have we tried bargaining with God, turning our relationship with him into a contract?  Does God have a case against you?  Yes, he does and we know it.  

What’s the answer?  How do we overcome this attitude that God owes us something?  By remembering all that God has done for you.  He said, 4For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and from the house of slavery I redeemed you.  I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam before you.  5Remember, my people, what Balak king of Moab planned and what Balaam son of Beor answered him from Shittim up to Gilgal, that you may know the Lord’s righteous acts.”

God had brought his people out of Egypt and out of slavery.  He had given them spiritual leaders.  He had turned Balaam’s curse into a blessing and protected the people from Balak’s schemes.  God had been very good to them.

If we want to get past the sin of thinking God owes us, then we need to remember all that God has done for us.  We have just celebrated Christmas and the gift of God’s Son to the world.  We have seen how our Savior humbled himself to be born in a Manger.  We will soon follow him to the cross and suffering and death.  We will see him bear our sins in our place.  We see the font and we are reminded that the Holy Spirit brought me into God’s family purely by grace and we have done nothing to earn it.  

God not only rescued us from the slavery of sin, he provided spiritual leaders like our parents, Sunday School teachers and pastors to guide us.  He has protected us through many dangers, many of which we will never see because God kept them away from us.   Remember all that God has done for you and listen to what God really wants.  8He has told you, man, what is good.  What does the Lord require from you but to carry out justice and love mercy and walk in humility with your God?  

Someone paraphrased Micah here by saying “Do things right and do the right things.”  We can also say that our relationship with God should be one of humble repentance.  Let us say with Luther that before God all we are is beggars.  

When his mother had a stroke I had someone say to me in the hospital, “You get angry with God, don’t you?”  I thought about that for a little bit and said no.  I explained that I haven’t had any real big tragedy in my life, but I couldn’t think of a time when I was angry with God.  I also explained that I don’t think in those terms.  See, God owes us nothing.  Yet, he has so richly blessed me.  He has adopted me into his family of believers, forgiven my sins and blessed me with family and so much more than I deserve.  Now, if God chooses to take one little part of that blessing away, how can I complain about that?  He is still giving me so much more than I deserve, the sinner that I am.

Instead of arrogantly complaining that life’s not fair, let’s remember just how much God has blessed us and let us walk humbly with our God in repentant faith.