Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NLT)
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 (NLT)
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”
6 What does this mean?
Answer: I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. (1)
For fifteen years or so, I’ve been hearing that we are in a post-modern world, and along with that, a post-Christian society.
Instinctually, I have questioned both claims. Especially the claim that the church, that Christianity is somehow past its course, that it no longer appeals to people. I would contend that it is not the church people have gone beyond, but the presentation of the church that is dependent solely on reason, that appeals to a logical and systematic view of our beliefs.
Nearly a generation after Dobson’s popular book suggesting that we can’t trust our emotions, a new generation is realizing what Luther taught so long ago, that we can’t trust our reason either. We hear it when they talk of not wanting religion but a relationship. We see it when they say they love our Jesus, but not his church. We see it when books like the Case fo Christ doesn’t have the appeal that it had 10 years ago, or Evidence that demands a verdict had 25 years ago.
A generation that bashes an emotional appeal to “come to Christ” is finding out the logical presentation doesn’t create a deeper faith, but often a rather hollow one. Holiness doesn’t come because of reason, or because of emotion. Nor can righteousness be measured by either one. (Maybe we should stop with our generalizations condemning or applauding those options?)
Holiness comes as both our emotions/feeling and reason/logic are sanctified. It is not a Venn diagram of where they intersect, but the entirety of both, as God comes to us, cleanses us of sin and all that is not right, and sets us apart to walk with Him, as He guides us. He is both our majestic Lord, and our loving Father.
It is He who keeps us, guards us, our hearts and minds, in this relationship that is completely dependent, even at the most intimate levels, at the most broken points of our lives, where we realize that both our emotions and reason fail, and are nailed to the cross.
Thye both have to be killed off, and they both have to be raised from the dead, with Christ, in Christ, focused on Christ, in awe of His love, dependent upon Him, cleansed by Him and humbly guided by Him.
It is then that our prayers are alive, that our desire to worship grows, that we aren’t focused on religious things as tasks or obligations, but rather as blessings, opportunities to see what really matters. It is here where revival happens, where brokenness is healed. It is this place where sin is set aside, because we begin to see the glory of God, not just as something distant, but something that we are drawn into by the Holy Spirit. This is repentance and renewal.
This is life in Christ.
Our life. TO love Him with our reason and emotions, with our heart, soul, mind and strength, because He came and loved us.
This is the work of God!
(1) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 345). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.