Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:
*While Joshua was near Jericho, he raised his eyes and saw one who stood facing him, drawn sword in hand.h Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you one of us or one of our enemies?” 14 He replied, “Neither. I am the commander* of the army of the LORD: now I have come.” Then Joshua fell down to the ground in worship, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 The commander of the army of the LORD replied to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Josh 5:13–15
“..what difference is there between philosophy and the teaching of Christ? If we merit the forgiveness of sins by these elicited acts of ours, of what use is Christ? If we can be justified by reason and its works, what need is there of Christ or of regeneration?” (Apology of the Augsburg Confessio; Article IV
I have a friend who still contends that the Dallas Cowboys are still America’s Team. I will concede that in his presence, noting that Bill, Tom and the rest of the New England Patriots are God’s team. Another friend declares that God is surely a fan of the Nebraska Cornhusker’s while demeaning the Oklahoma Sooners to be cheered on by someone a bit south of God’s abode.
Most of the time, I think such revelry and rivalry is fun, as we claim which side of a battle is holy and righteous. Except around the college bowl season – or the NFL playoffs. It is then that such discussions take on a more serious form.
We do this in other arenas as well, such as the political arena, as those who are pro-gun rights seek a verbal “trial by combat” with those who are for taking care of refugees and immigrants seeking solace. Or those who are pro-life take the field against those who want universal healthcare. Republicans versus Democrats, Tea Party versus something called being progressive.
We also do this in the realms of philosophy and theology, as if who wins in the public debates of blogs and podcasts determine where there is truth, and who is correct. Lutherans versus Reformed, Catholics versus Protestants, Pentecostals versus Baptists, Liberals versus Conservatives, Traditionalists against those who prefer Innovation. Everyone, absolutely everyone attacking the Muslims. Oh, and we are all on the defense against the JW’s and LDS.
Even within denominations we see this, and it tears the church apart.
Listen, folks, Melancthon nailed it. You are not saved by your pure theology or the logical supremacy of your philosophy. It is not what you think or what those thoughts cause you to do that saves you. What Joshua realized as he talked to Jesus, was simple.
It isn’t about whether God is on our side.
It isn’t whether your blog or mine has more followers or hits. It’s not whether my Patriots can again intercept a pass on the goal line. There are political positions on both sides of the aisle that need to be listened and heeded.
But what is important is whether you find yourself in the presence of God, with other broken sinners, finding the healing that you need. That the Holy Spirit will bring you to life spiritually, whether you will be transformed, and live in peace.
The desire to win so divides us if our definition of winning is causing the other person to submit to our view. But a desire to see God’s love win is one where humility reigns, not bravado. It is where sacrifice and service take on more meaning than statistics and trophies. It is where hanging in there with that person who others would give up on matters more than attracting the stars, and the crowds. It is where truth matters more than our opinion, and, therefore, the journey is mutual, not combative.
We seek fellowship, with all, based in our relationship with God.
This is life, in Christ.
May we seek it in the next year, and lovingly work with all. AMEN.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 109). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.