Morals or Healing and Fellowship?

Thoughts that pull me toward Jesus, and to His cross!

Those left in the land were the five Philistine cities, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived in the Lebanon Mountains from Mount Baal Hermon as far as Hamath Pass. 4They were to be a test for Israel, to find out whether or not the Israelites would obey the commands that the LORD had given their ancestors through Moses. 5And so the people of Israel settled down among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 6They intermarried with them and worshipped their gods.  Judges 3:3-6  GNT

People (and particularly people who come to church and put themselves in touch with pastoral ministry) see themselves in human and moral terms: they have human needs that need fulfilling and moral deficiencies that need correcting. Pastors see people differently. We see them in theological terms: they are sinners—persons separated from God who need to be restored in Christ.

Everything depends on seeing how absolutely God has succeeded in having mercy through the cross. The old being who is bound to its god projects, insistent on controlling its own destiny, is put to death. There is nothing to do but await the actual and living Word of proclamation summoning to life, to faith in the God who does not stop until indeed carrying through concretely in the proclamation on the promise, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” And now it is for you.

Whenever I read the first seven Old Testament books, I wonder about those people whose faith was fickle, who would easily fall away from the God they experienced, the God in whose presence they dwelt. They would abandon Him, and struggle with life.

Such an example is found as they do not complete the process of moving into the promised land. They want all the appearance of being the people of God, but they have a struggle hearing His word and following through on it. They set themselves up for more challenges and trials and tribulations by doing what was right in their own eyes.

The more I read these books, the more I see today’s church. Not the society, the church. We try to behave as if we are ethically and morally pure. Peterson gets to that, in his analysis of how people and their pastor view them.

We can’t justify their actions (or our own), and we know it.

We can only declare them justified by the blood of Christ, which covers their sins.

They need to be restored, we can show them God doing that restoration. As Forde put it, “summoning us to life… ”

Restoring us from immorality, towards the day when our body casts off mortality  for immortality, the day when our “conversion” is done. (Phil. 1:6)

This is the goal of Christ, not just the church, or its pastors. It is why the death of Jesus must be proclaimed, so that we have this life!





Peterson, Eugene H. 1989. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction. Vol. 17. The Leadership Library. Carol Stream, IL; Dallas; Waco, TX: Christianity Today; Word Pub.

Forde, Gerhard O. 1990. “The Preached God.” In Theology Is for Proclamation, 126. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress 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 March 3, 2023, in Devotions. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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