How Many Times Do I Need to Hear This? What About You? The Paradox of Life!

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day
5  Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. 6  He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. 7  Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! 8  Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Philippians 2:5-8 (MSG)

If someone doesn’t care whether they live or die it is hard to threaten them.  If our identity lies in whose we are, and not just in who we are, then even the loss of reputation will only be a temporary setback.  The need to be someone, to have clout, to command respect, to have prestige or position are the shackles every bit as those of materialism. To been seen as holy, o spiritual mature, someone of depth, having a quiet authority, are these not also ambitions or bolsters of our status?
If we can only reach the true poverty and yielded-ness of not “needing to be” anything (even a humble nothing!) then we will truly be invisible.  (1)

For where God’s Word is preached, accepted or believed, and bears fruit, there the blessed holy cross will not be far away. Let nobody think that he will have peace; he must sacrifice all he has on earth—possessions, honor, house and home, wife and children, body and life.
Now, this grieves our flesh and the old Adam, for it means that we must remain steadfast, suffer patiently whatever befalls us, and let go whatever is taken from us. (2)

Nietzsche once said he could not abide Saint Augustine—he seemed too plebeian and common. There is some justification for Nietzsche’s attitude, but it is precisely in these qualities that we discover Saint Augustine’s true Christian greatness. He could have been an aristocrat of the spirit, but for the sake of Christ and for the sake of his fellow men, in whom he saw Christ coming toward him, he left the ivory tower of the gifted intellectual in order to be wholly man among men, a servant of the servants of God. For the sake of Christ he emptied himself of his great learning. For the sake of Christ he became increasingly an ordinary person and the servant of all. In doing so he became truly a saint. For Christian holiness does not consist in being superhuman and in having an extraordinary talent or greatness that others do not have. Christian holiness is simply the obedience that puts us at God’s disposal wherever he calls us. (3) 

I could have included a passage or 2 from St. Josemaria that were part of my devotions over the last few days.  More passages where Jesus laid into the disciples the concept of sacrifice, where setting aside your life is the way to fulfill it.  That anyone who set aside everything will find far more. This even as Jesus mourned as the rich young man couldn’t leave all behind. The words of Paul are encouraging us to imitate Paul where He imitated Jesus.  The words of Stephen as boulders crashed upon Him, giving up even his “right” to revenge, that those who tortured them would be healed, that they would receive mercy, that they would rejoice in the love of the God whom they killed.

All those passages and the ones above coalesced this morning into one message.

It is the paradox of following Christ, to abandon to receive everything.  It is why we are drawn to Christ, to see our Father’s Kingdom come, His will be done – for the world to come to repentance, to be transformed, to be cleansed, to be filled.

As we are emptied, even as Christ emptied himself, there is freedom and peace. Assured that nothing can separate us from God, we are free to love, to be merciful, to share a blessing that is so far beyond anything we know, anything we used to value, including ourselves.  We get to share a blessing that is more than anything that could cause us anxiety, fear, or disturb our peace. We are emptied of all that…

It is simplicity that doesn’t even recognize itself, as we cling to Jesus and know we are His.

It is then the Holy Spirit is free to minister through us, guiding us, helping us love.  This is so subtly done we don’t realize it, for we are at peace…even if it costs us our physical lives like Stephen, Paul and Jesus.  Or, as living sacrifices where we live trusting and depending on God.

This is our paradox… not to think about as much as embrace.  It is our life in Christ.


Celtic Daily Prayer, Devotion for 8/29

Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Large Catechism from The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 429). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 274). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on August 29, 2015, in Augsburg and Trent, Poiema, Theology in Practice and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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