That’s Random! Or, The Names of God: Sovereign Lord
Acts 4:23-31

Pastor Todd BuurstraThat’s random! is a comment that I often hear among youth these days. It’s a fun, harmless comment that seems to translate into old peoples’ language as something like:

Oh my, what a surprise! Or, That’s coming from left field!

Now taken to it’s adult, logical extreme that’s random could lead us to believe that the heavenly throne is empty. 150 years ago Frederich Nietzche popularized the God is dead philosophy. By this he meant, not that God is laid out in a coffin, but that the idea of God can no longer order life and morality. Nietzche took life to be, well, random. Without a divine center life becomes meaningless. Nihilism, Neitzche called it. However, his own philosophy drove him mad so he spent much of the last 11 years of his life in the German version of Carrier Clinic, never recovering from a mental breakdown.

So, what does it mean for believers to call God, Sovereign Lord—especially in the common situations of change, suffering, meaning, and mission?

CHANGE. Trin, Trin, denkt daroom wat je doet! My grandmother heard Trin’s mother yell from across the road as Trin was about to enter Grandpa’s church. What did Trin need to think about before entering, not a bar but, the sanctuary? She needed to consider whether God would not toss a lightening bolt her way because she was entering an English service to sing hymns—rather than the inspired psalms that they sang in the afternoon Dutch service. Dutch psalms sounded like funeral dirges, Gram said. 75 years ago Grandpa weathered the last major worship music change from psalms to hymns.

Worship music change is tough. We get anxious about such change, to the point that we may exaggerate the other side: Contemporary-Blend (he’s a Baptist pastor’s son) or Traditional-Blend. Which do you think is best for our congregation and community? When we get to a more unified proposal we’ll come back to talk and listen.

Until then, we need to get off the throne, remember whom we call Sovereign Lord, and pray for the Lord’s guidance for the benefit of all. Just like the apostles prayed to their Sovereign in the face of changes to persecution. A hymn comes to mind:

Change and decay in all around I see: O thou who changest not, abide with me.

SUFFERING. As the decay the hymn talks about sets into our body we can get depressed. Movement becomes harder, pains appear where they never were before, what will happen to me? The chorus of that classic gospel song This Ol’ House comes to mind:

Ain’t gonna need this house no longer, ain’t gonna need this house [our body] no more;
Ain’t got time to fix the ceiling, ain’t got time to fix the floor.
Ain’t got time to oil the hinges, nor to mend the window pane,
Ain’t gonna need this house no longer—I’m getting’ ready to meet the saints.

Enjoy the Cathedrals rendition a moment…

As the King gave the apostles hope in the shadow of threats so we find hope in suffering.

MEANING. Why can we find hope through suffering: because a sovereign Lord gives life meaning! I think I know why Britney Spears has been self-destructing. I think that when adoring fans worship you for so many years of a young life, you lose a sense of any ONE greater than you. As your own god you become anxious for meaning.

Heidi and Bob in their church plant have created a T-shirt. It says this:

There is only one King—and its not you!

As the King of Kings gave the apostles meaning in their persecution so our Sovereign Lord tells us why we’re on this planet—to serve God by helping others. Meaning.

And lastly, MISSION. So you’ve taken upon yourself the sovereign Lord’s purpose for your life—to serve God by making the world better. And, like the apostles who took on the purpose of evangelizing the whole world, you’ve taken on a big purpose: global warming, let’s say. But you can’t persuade your family to go solar. Your advocacy has not persuaded any candidate to make fuel cells the major part of their agenda. Your friends don’t agree that just diverting a fraction of Iraq money to fuel cells would make us safer by undercutting terrorist funding. It’s too big. I can’t make a difference.

But like the apostles who called God sovereign and received boldness, in the same way we call God Sovereign and receive power to make our difference one step at a time.

So is life random? Or does the sovereign Lord reign? It’s the choice between Neitzche’s babbling drool, or a confident smile. We only need to get off the throne.