Even though we're sheltering at home during this pandemic the world continues to hurry along. Whether we're moving with them or not people are going about their lives as best they can. The world moves at a fast pace. If we don't keep up we'll be left behind. Fast food drive-thru. Curbside pick-up at the liquor store. Microwavable dinners in a box. Swipe our credit card at the gas pump. Twelve minute YouTube videos. Texting on our cell phone rather than a face to face conversation.
But the faster the pace of the world, the more we do to keep up, and the more stress we add to life. Much of the stress and anxiety that we suffer is a result of our choices to keep up, keep moving, and keep pace with other people. We lose sleep over it. We don't focus on our mental and emotional health. We don't eat right. We sacrifice well-being to chase after the next paycheck. We get so caught up in the rat race we don't notice we're not getting anywhere. We're not making progress. We're not winning at life. We've become just another rat in a cage.
More than one hour on Sunday morning is too long for worship. We've got things to do. There's no time for family devotions. There's important stuff that demands our attention right now. We've been seduced by speed. We're bewitched by the pace of the world. We're always moving, but we're not going anywhere. We can't slow down or we'll be left behind by people who don't care about us. They're living in the fast lane. No time to stop and help others. Their stress and anxiety keep them going. Peace and quiet is a dirty word. For them, a stress-free life is a daydream.
But, for us Christians, we need to stop. We must stop or we'll never pay attention to what we've lost. Our stress has cut us off from the Lord. The reason we laugh at people who pray for peace and quiet is that we've turned our backs on God. True peace comes only from God.
For many, many years the Church has called upon the Lord to come quickly and deliver peace to His people. The Church prays that God will rescue them from a world hell-bent on speeding towards its own destruction. Morning and evening, and at all times in between, the Church has prayed that God would keep His people out of step with the pace of the world.
The forgiveness of sin in Jesus' name changes the way we move, and live, and exist. Jesus' death and resurrection won peace for us, a peace the world cannot understand. God's peace is the forgiveness of sin. This forgiveness gives us a calm and understanding about life that others, who can't even be bothered to stop and smell the roses, find impossible to grasp.
Jesus' forgiveness opens the importance of being alive at the moment. Our Savior sends us a preacher to announce the good news that our need is not out there in the future. He's present with us now. Right now, our future is secure. We don't have to rush to meet it. It's come to us with the words, "Be at peace, your sin is forgiven."
Jesus' suffering and death won forgiveness for us. In the present tense this means we're free to step off the track. We're set free from the cage. We're delivered from daydreams. Peace and comfort are given to us through the forgiveness of sin, even if this is the last moment of our life. Jesus won't judge us based on our finishing time. Whether we're amongst the top ten finishers or we come in dead last, Jesus says, "Today you will be with me in paradise."
Today we're free to slow down, to stop chasing what the world chases after. Right now, God is our help and deliverance from self-destruction. At this moment, we're forgiven because Jesus has overcome the world.