Worship Theme: The Gifted Life Imitates Jesus’ Love for the Lost
Sermon Theme: Crazy Love
Crazy can mean being out of one’s mind or something extreme. As we look at Hosea 3:1-5 and the love that is portrayed, you’ll see that it is both extreme and it would seem that to love in that way, a person would be out of their mind. “Crazy love.” September 11, 2022.
Love can make a person do some crazy things. You find yourself thinking about someone else other than yourself! You go outside of your comfort zone to get closer to the one you love – a girl might go to a football game with her boyfriend even though she really doesn’t care for the game or a dad might dress up in a pink tutu to attend a tea-party with his daughter. A person might pick up their life and move to a new place because of love, whether a boyfriend to be closer to his girlfriend or a child moving to be near aging parents in order to care for them. Love makes a person stand outside of a house holding a boom box over their head while it blares love songs. What kind of crazy things has love moved you to do?
I once heard a story about a guy who went back to his ex even after she cheated on him, multiple times and with multiple guys. Crazy, right?! True story! You actually just heard the story a few moments ago. The guy was Hosea, the Old Testament prophet to the people of Israel. In fact, God commanded Hosea to show that kind of crazy love to his adulterous wife because it would model the even crazier love that God has for disobedient, unfaithful sinners like you and me.
Maybe just a word about the word “crazy.” Crazy can mean being out of one’s mind or something extreme. As we look at this account from Hosea and the love that is portrayed, you’ll see that it is both extreme and it would seem that to love in that way, a person would be out of their mind. Crazy love.
In order to best understand situation that Hosea found himself, let me take you back to the beginning. In chapter one, even before Hosea was called on to preach, God called on him to proclaim a message with his own life. Here’s how… God told Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman. Her name was Gomer and she was most likely a prostitute possibly even a temple prostitute giving her body to the immoral acts of pagan idol worship. They were to have kids and quite possibly the kids weren’t even Hosea’s because Gomer continued in her adulterous ways. The kids had some interesting names – a son named Jezreel (reminiscent of the ungodly bloody overthrowing of a King), a daughter named “not-loved,” and another son named “not my people.” Can you imagine, “Hey, not my people, come play catch!”? Eventually, the marriage between Hosea and Gomer is broken apart by her unfaithfulness.
What’s the deal with this crazy family life that Hosea was to take on? This real life-sermon that Hosea proclaimed represented the very real relationship between God and his people. Israel had become the promiscuous, unfaithful, adulterous Gomer in their relationship with God. They didn’t love the Lord, they chased after the pleasures of the world, and gave themselves over to false gods. The Lord’s time of grace was up for Israel and they were going to be punished for their unfaithfulness. Like Gomer led an adulterous life and left her marriage to Hosea, Israel lived a spiritually adulterous life and left their commitment to God.
But it’s in today’s reading from chapter 3 that things get really crazy. The Lord said to Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress.” Now come on! Seriously God?! What kind of advice would you give to Hosea if he was your buddy? “Hey, God told me to go get Gomer back.” “No way man! She’s a [insert a whole bunch of choice adjectives that describe her adulterous life]. You need to drop her like a bad habit!” You know what’s crazy? Hosea does it. He gets her back. Know what’s crazier? He paid to get his wife back from whatever guy she had shacked up with. He paid the price of a slave. He bought back his wife who had already belonged to him. Talk about doing crazy things for love.
But again, this real-life-sermon proclaimed the crazy love of God. “Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes (a part of Canaanite idol worship).” God should have dumped unfaithful and spiritually lost Israel. He should have chosen a new nation. Start over. But he didn’t. He sought out them out to restore their relationship with him. “The Israelites will return and seek their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.”
You know what’s crazier? That picture of Hosea and Gomer, God and Israel, is the picture of you and God. Maybe you were hoping I wasn’t going to go there or knew that I would and were cringing inside. The reality is that your relationship with God is adulterous. That’s an apt illustration. You’ve cheated on God plenty, every time that you disobey him. You’ve looked lustfully at the temptations of the world. You’ve questioned God’s love for you and wrapped your arms around something else that you thought would love you better. You have left the Lord to chase after a relationship with the world. For many of you, on your confirmation day, you stood before a congregation of witnesses and made promises to love God and remain faithful to him all your life. How have you upheld those vows? It’s true that we are all a bunch of unfaithful, promiscuous, adulterous people in our relationship with God. It would be crazy for God to want to have a relationship with you and me.
Jesus told a couple of parables in today’s gospel about finding the lost. In one he described a shepherd who had a hundred sheep and lost one that wandered away. You and I might have said, “Forget it. I can’t risk losing my other ninety-nine sheep to go find the one that wandered off. Just chalk it up to typical losses and move on.” But Jesus described that shepherd leaving the other ninety-nine sheep in the open field, not even getting them back to the pen showing how urgent and important this was to him, and he went out to find the one lost sheep. Crazy! Then came the raucous rejoicing over that one lost sheep that was found and restored.
When the world says not worth the time, not a good enough person to help out, that person doesn’t deserve this, too horrible, too sinful, too worthless, God says, “Mine.” When you feel too lost in the depths of your unfaithfulness, like you should never be welcomed back into the loving embrace of God’s love, he says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). God wants to break down the door of the room of your adulterous relationship with the world and pull you out of the bed of sin and shame and buy you back. That’s exactly what he did. God loves you so much that he did something crazy! Jesus, God’s true son, lived a perfectly faithful life and never gave into the licentious temptations of the world. In the craziest display of love, Jesus offered up his holy, perfect life, to pay the price for all of your adulterous ways. Because of this, because of Jesus, God forgives you. He loves you.
The Lord describes his love for you in this way. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
From our perspective, God is out of his mind! But you see, God is completely sane and just loves you that deeply. We call this kind of crazy love, grace. Grace is a husband loving an adulterous wife over and over again. Grace is paying the full price to bring her home, even after she runs off with another man. Grace is loving the unlovable, the undeserving, the adulterous. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves you with a crazy, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. It’s crazy, I know! But that’s grace. That’s God’s crazy love for you!
We aren’t told the end of the story with Hosea and his rocky marriage to Gomer. Did she finally change her ways and see the crazy love that Hosea had for her?
I don’t know about her, but what about you? Know how deeply God loves you and now live in a loving relationship with God. Forsake the adulterous relationship with the world. Be content in an eternal life-long commitment to Christ. Grow in your relationship with God through the Word where God whispers his loving promises to you and in his Sacrament where he wraps in his loving embrace of forgiveness.
Love others with the same kind of crazy love. God often calls on Christians to do some truly crazy things… like, give up certain things in this world, or to connect with people who maybe no one else will, to love others without expecting anything in return, to be selfless, to forgive those who wrong you again, and again, and again, to turn the other cheek. Who can do these kinds of crazy things?? The person who knows the crazy love of God.
Why? Because love makes a person do some crazy things. Thank God for his crazy love for us! Amen.
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