Do fathers still tell children “Once upon time” stories, like once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks, who came to a house in the forest where she saw three bowls of porridge on the kitchen table. Since Goldilocks was very hungry from her walk in the forest, she tasted the porridge in the first bowl. “This porridge is too hot!” she said. So she tasted the porridge in the second bowl. “This porridge is too cold.” Finally she tasted the porridge in the last bowl. “This porridge is just right,” she said, and she ate it all up. And then Goldilocks sees three chairs and three beds before the three surprised bears who owned that home come back to see an equally surprised Goldilocks. Hopefully they all lived happily ever after…
I don’t know if this story is commonly told any more, but I would think it’s possible that many of you kids and adults have known the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears for many years, since this story has entertained people for many generations. What perhaps some of you also know from your study of science or engineering or psychology is that scholars sometimes refer to what they call “The Goldilocks Principle” when it comes to what they are studying or trying to build. The Goldilocks Principle basically says for things to work out well, there can’t be extremes – things can’t be “too hot” or “too cold.” Everything must be “just right” so the project can go forward.
Wouldn’t it be great if everything were “just right” again in our world right now or in your life right now, because, obviously, things haven’t been just right for quite some time now – and maybe some of you have felt that way for a very long time for whatever reason in your life. As we think about these words from Romans 4 let’s see if we can look at life in the “everything is just right” way from God’s point of view as we talk about The Goldilocks Principle and The Christian Faith.
Today’s key word in our Back to the Basics sermon series is Righteousness. Righteousness is a word that means that everything is “just right.” But it really means more than that. It means everything is just perfect. And it is being just perfect that is at the heart of everything the Bible says about God and about you and me.
In our lesson for today the apostle Paul says that was very true about the man of God named Abraham, who lived about two thousand years before Jesus was born. Abraham had received promises from God that from him and his descendants would come the promised Savior of the World, who would make everything just right. But everything was not just right for Abraham. In fact, everything seemed just plain wrong. Do you remember why? Abraham had no descendants from whom the Savior could come, and there came a point in time when the possibility of having children became impossible because he and his wife were very old. What did Pastor Casmer read in the middle of verse 19 of our Lesson: “… he (Abraham) faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.”
But there was more that was not “just right” in an even more important way. Abraham and Sarah, like all of us, were not just right in their hearts. Two quick examples: Years before, Abraham and Sarah had tried to keep God’s promise for him when they conceived the plan for Abraham to take another woman who was not his wife to have a child for him. If you want to read about how disastrous that turned out to be, you can look at Genesis 16 when you get a chance. And Example 2: Years later Sarah laughed and scoffed at God’s promise that within a year she would give birth to the promised son, who did truly end up being born – the son named Isaac, who did indeed continue the family line of the promised Savior of the world.
You and I are part of the same family line of all sinful people, and therefore you and I need that promised Savior of the world. And if you or I don’t think that is that big of a deal, then here is where we really need to emphasize that when God says he wants everything to be “just right” – when he says he wants everything in our lives to be “righteous” – he is not talking about just kind of being in the middle of too good or too bad. There is only one “just right” place before God, and that is to be totally right all the time – totally perfect all the time – totally without sin all the time. Just taking a brief moment of time in our minds to think about how many times we have been like Abraham and Sarah — thinking we can be God for him, or how many times we have been like Sarah mocking God or other people God has placed into our lives – just taking a brief moment to think about how not just right we are every single moment of every single day has to make us realize how just and perfectly right it would be for the just and perfectly right and righteous, holy God to want no part of us. That would be just right and fair.
But there is more to God being just right. He not only demands that we be just right. He has promised a way to have us be just right. Remember, Isaac was actually born in a humanly impossible way. And centuries later as the descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob went on and on, the Son of God was born in an even more humanly impossible way, when the virgin Mary gave birth to the One who was just right in every possible way.
And throughout all those years up to the present time with you and me, God did another humanly impossible thing. He put into your heart and mine – hearts which wanted no part of him – the faith to believe that we are part of him. We are part of his family – his holy family – his holy, righteous, just right family. And what he gave us the faith to believe is that we became part of his righteous family through the work of his righteous Son. This is how Paul says it in our Lesson in verse 22: He says of Abraham, “This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words ‘it was credited to him” were not written for him alone, but also for us to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”
Do you want things to be just right – to be perfect — in your life? If so, then please know that things are just right – things are perfect – in your life with God, because God our Father did raise Jesus our Lord from the dead. Yes, if you want things to be just right and perfect in your often chaotic, often mixed-up, often confused and confusing life, then imprint on your heart the last words of our Lesson in verse 25: “(Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” All you have ever done wrong is gone because Jesus died. “He was delivered over to death for our sins.” And you can be sure God has justified you – he has declared you not guilty – he has declared you righteous and holy and just right – because your Savior who died is no longer dead. “He was raised to life for our justification.” He came out of that tomb and is preparing a just right and perfect home in the holiness of heaven. That’s where nothing will ever make you wonder if things will ever be just right again.
Do you know what temperature the just right porridge was for Goldilocks? Those who study food temperatures tell us that the right hot food temperature is different for everybody, but I guess it ranges from 140 to 160 degrees or so. With God we don’t have to worry that life being just right will be different for everybody. For ourselves – and for those we love – and for those we do not know but want to see in heaven with us, as well, The Goldilocks Principle of the Christian Faith means there is nothing else in life we need to try to find the just right temperature to make things better for us. No matter what is happening in this world or in your life, everything is totally and perfectly just right when you know God’s promise that you have the same righteousness as Jesus Christ, your Savior and Lord, precisely because Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord. So taste – “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” That is how we truly will live happily ever after – and happily and joyfully right now!