The World is a Mess, But We Know What to Do!

A sermon idea based on Deuteronomy 30:9-14.

The world is all a mess. It always has been, but not always to the same degree by all people in all places, obviously. Now, thanks to our technology and connectedness, we’re more aware than ever of just how many problems exist.

The author of this passage in the final few chapters of Deuteronomy was writing to a people who knew very well what a mess the world could be and what exile was all about.

Chapters 29 and 30 are a challenge and a reminder of the promises of God to the people whom he saves. And the challenge is simply to choose life and not death. The author details again the kinds of blessings that will be enjoyed by those who walk in faithful, obedient communion with God.

One thing I’ve always tried to be careful with when teaching from this section of Deuteronomy is overselling the idea of blessings as rewards for obedience. If we’re not careful, we’ll wind up with a theology that ignores God’s common grace to all, even the disobedient. We can also become insensitive to the suffering of those who have suffered, not as a consequence of their own unfaithfulness but as a fruit of living in such a broken world.

There is, however, a general theme that weaves its way through scripture, especially in the wisdom and poetic writings of the Old Testament, that our choices have consequences that are both naturally and supernaturally influenced. I’d put it like this:

To walk in harmony with the wisdom God has revealed is what best positions us to receive the fullness of the joy-filled life God intends for his people. 

And what I love about this passage, in particular (Deut. 30:9-14), is that the author reminds his hearers how to find and honor what God has revealed. To paraphrase,

The revealed will of God isn’t inaccessible! It’s not far away. God didn’t hide it from you. He put it within you (reason and conscience), around you (other people, nature, the church), and behind you (centuries of inspired scripture and tradition). In other words, what you need to do is right in front of you!

We learn how to fix broken things when we hear the stories of how God and his people have fixed them before.

We know what to do because Jesus set the example. We know what to do because of the writings of the prophets, the poets, and the apostles.

Is the world a mess? Yes! But…

As we embody and share the gospel of love, grace, and peace in Christ, the world gets changed!