Yesterday I had an idea for a sermon illustration involving our Prime Minister, John Key, and the leader of the ACT Party (and cabinet minister), Rodney Hide. This morning I can improve on the illustration due to a development in last night's news! In yesterday morning's sermon the initial illustration was used in a sermon on Hebrews 9:24-28 (Jesus dying once for all for our sins). Here goes ...
Our Prime Minister is definitely the most relaxed Prime Minister in our history. Nothing seems to trouble him, and he is very generous and accommodating when people make mistakes. Recently Rodney Hide, at a fund-raising breakfast for his party made some remarks about John Key which were unfair and untrue: that one year into his role, he had achieved nothing. The media got hold of these remarks and there was a bit of controversy about them. John Key himself responded by saying that Hide's remarks were no big deal, and Rodney Hide explained that they were jokey remarks not intended to be taken seriously.
I think many Kiwis are hoping God is like John Key, and our situation before God as sinners is like Rodney Hide's. On the one hand we are hoping that when we appear before God to account for our lives, God will say, 'Nothing you have done is a big deal!' On the other hand we would like to explain that nothing we have done to apparently offend God was intended to be serious.
The reality, of course, is that our sin - our rebellion against God, our behaviour to other people - is very serious and we need help ... Christ as our Saviour ... etc.
Later yesterday another twist in the tale offers an improvement and extension of the illustration, or, on second thoughts, perhaps a whole new illustration:
Rodney Hide has been involved in another media story in recent weeks, concerning claims that he inappropriately used taxpayer funds to fly his girlfriend overseas. This story has had a particular edge because Hide, when in opposition, was ruthless in exposing politician's misspending ways. Last night on national TV, Hide apologised to the nation for his actions, said he would repay the funds involved, and (I think I read this correctly) vowed never to spend taxpayer funds on overseas travel again.
In this situation New Zealand and its people are like God - the God who takes wrongdoing seriously and is intolerant of misbehaviour. Initially Hide was like a sinner who hopes God overlooks certain sins. But then the light of the Word (i.e. the media) confronted him with the reality of the need for atonement of his wrongdoing and a real repentance in which the direction of one's life is turned around with a resolve not to offend God again. In this case Hide was able to make atonement for his sin in a straightforward manner (by writing a cheque), but in our case as sinners before God, things are not so straightforward, and we need help - the help only Jesus our Saviour and High Priest can give ...