NOTE: The sermon I preached yesterday, “God’s Peace in Our Pain,” is available on our website today. Focusing on three stories of transformation in Matthew 8, I explore three wrong answers and three right answers to the question, “Where is God when life hurts?” I hope the manuscript is helpful to you today.
Prince Harry will reportedly meet with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Prince William today. Meghan is likely to join them by phone from Canada. The meeting was called by the queen to “thrash out solutions to Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back as senior royals.”
News continues to break daily on this evolving story.
It is being reported that royal family members have become increasingly worried about Harry’s mental health since he told a reporter that flashes of photographers triggered PTSD-like flashbacks to his mother’s death. He also said that mental health problems he thought he had beaten had come back to haunt him. Such concerns are said to be motivating Prince Charles as he seeks the best future for his son.
Meanwhile, Meghan has signed a deal with Disney to benefit a wildlife charity. It involves recording a voiceover in return for a donation to Elephants Without Borders. According to one report, the arrangement “offers a hint of the couple’s future life, using their celebrity status to benefit their chosen causes.”
Many have been comparing Meghan Markle, an American divorcée, to Wallis Simpson, another American divorcée who married a member of the royal family. The former King Edward VIII abdicated his throne in 1936 to marry her. However, Harry is only sixth in line to the throne. And no one is discussing the kind of permanent exile into which Edward and Wallis were banished.
Ruling the UK for sixty-eight years
Celebrity comes and goes, but royalty endures. On February 6, Queen Elizabeth will have ruled the United Kingdom for sixty-eight years. Her firstborn, Charles, has been heir to the throne from the moment of his mother’s ascension in 1952.
What is true in Great Britain is even more true in God’s kingdom.
Elizabeth and Charles were born into royalty. Christians are born again into royalty as well: as the children of God, we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). Scripture defines your status this way: “You are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:7).
This status is irrevocable. My two sons will always be my sons—they cannot reverse history and undo their birth. In the moment of our salvation, we “have eternal life” (John 3:16)—not just in heaven but on earth as well. We are God’s “new creation”—for us, “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
As children of the King of the universe, we are part of the greatest royal family in the universe. And we are members of that family forever.
“The deepest craving of my heart”
However, our culture defines us in terms that are transitory at best. Our “possessions” are not really ours (who owns your house or apartment?) or ours for long. Our appearance changes daily, as does our cultural status.
The Baltimore Ravens were the best team in the NFL until they were upset by Tennessee on Saturday; LSU is the best college team in America unless it loses tonight to Clemson.
Henry Nouwen: “The world is filled with ‘ifs.’ The world says: ‘Yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much, and buy much.’ There are endless ‘ifs’ hidden in the world’s love.
“These ‘ifs’ enslave me, since it is impossible to respond adequately to all of them. The world’s love is and always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain ‘hooked’ to the world—trying, failing, and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.”
“There are two ways to be fooled”
Today is a good day to declare our independence from such slavery. It is a good day to decide that our value lies in our Father’s permanent, eternal, unconditional love for us. It is a good day to serve Jesus with passion, not so he will love us but because he already does. It is a good day to serve others with passion, not so they will love us but because Jesus loves them.
In short, it is a good day to take your Savior at his word. Read Romans 8:35–39, then ask yourself if anything can keep Jesus from loving you today. Now ask yourself if anything will keep you from expressing his love to those you meet.
Imagine the impact on our culture when the world’s 2.3 billion Christians embrace our unchanging status as God’s children and unconditionally offer such grace to our graceless world. Imagine the impact where you live when you do.
Søren Kierkegaard: “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
Will you “believe what is true” about yourself today?