Parents, summer is coming soon and I encourage you to get your kids off the screens and into the imaginative world of reading. Maybe cut a deal with them, for every minute of screen time there has to be a minute of reading time. I say this to recommend the children’s books by the Christian author N.D. Wilson. He writes stories of adventure and danger and darkness because “… every single mortal child is growing into a life story in a world full of dangers and beauties. Every one will have struggles and ultimately, every one will face death and loss. The goal isn’t to steer kids into stories of darkness because those are the stories that grip readers. The goal is to put the darkness in its place. … In the end good wins. Always” (N.D. Wilson). A hundred years ago another great author put it this way: “Fairy tales (stories with scary beasts and dragons) are not responsible for producing in children fear, … fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The [child] has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon” (G. K. Chesteron). Books like that are honest and that’s what our kids need and what will prepare them for the world. Another honest book of course is the Bible. It is filled with violent and dark stories, stories of defeat and victory, death and resurrection. It has the dragons of suffering and sin and Satan. It tells it like it is. That’s certainly what Peter does dealing with fear and suffering and evil.
Last week on vacation our son, Reed, set us up on an open air jeep tour of the interior of Catalina Island. It was four hours over rugged terrain on winding dirt roads. There were steep sections, sometimes climbing to two thousand feet and dropping down to sea level. There were beautiful overlooks and scary narrow cliff hangers. And there were obstacles, like bison on the road. It was a pretty good snapshot of life. Life is a long journey over some pretty rugged terrain. There are flat, smooth stretches with glimpses of beauty and then there are ups and downs, twists and turns, bumps in the road, and unexpected obstacles. Sometimes they are manageable, sometimes overwhelming. Just ask any of our members dealing with cancer or death. Sometimes the challenges come from circumstances, health, finances, personal issues, and sometimes they are from other people. How do we deal with the challenges of life when they are other people, whether strangers, relatives, or even people in our church? Our text is very practical, it’s about how to relate to those around us, especially those with whom we have difficulties, even those who may be hostile toward us, or heaven forbid, toward whom we may feel hostile.
The story is told of a man who wanted his family to go to the great expense of having him buried in Israel because he heard, “Israel has the highest resurrection rate of any nation in the world.” If you want to know anything about resurrections Israel is a good place to start, especially in the time of Jesus, after all He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Our text is filled with weighty truths about weighty matters. Here the doctrine of the resurrection is declared from the lips of Jesus Himself, before His resurrection. Jesus brings to light at least three revelations concerning the resurrection in our text.
Two weeks ago I pushed the pause button on my sermon on I Peter 3:7 about living with your wives in an understanding way. This morning I am pushing the play button and resuming that sermon. But it might help to hit fast rewind and do a fast forward just to remember the highlights. You can also read or listen to that sermon on line at the church website.
The Middle East is in the news all the time. Since the creation of the nation state of Israel 1947 by the United Nations after WWII there has been constant tension and strife. In fact the day after Israel declared itself a Jewish state, the armies of four Arab countries attacked. A month doesn’t go by without some news about Israel and the Palestinians. Israel holds a special fascination for Christians and a special place in our hearts. Our history and heritage is bound up in Israel, our spiritual roots are there. Many Christians love to take trips to the Holy Land, to be where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived, where David and Solomon reigned, where Jesus, Peter and Paul walked. Blaine and Ardelle are there now. But Christians also have very mixed views about Israel and the Jews and God’s plans and purposes for them.