Devotional Thought of the Day:
51 When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determined to journey to Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers ahead of Him, and on the way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make preparations for Him. 53 But they did not welcome Him, because He determined to journey to Jerusalem.54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”
55 But He turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village. Luke 9:51-56
2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. Ephesians 4:2-6 (NLT)
15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter.14* For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour.15* They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities
But as the words of this decree show, the apostles did not want to impose an ordinance on the churches. For they say that no one should mind if his brethren do not correctly compute the time in celebrating Easter. The text of the decree is preserved in Epiphanius: “Do not calculate, but whenever your brethren of the circumcision do, celebrate it at the same time with them; even if they have made a mistake, do not let this bother you.”…. 44 The apostles wisely admonished the reader neither to destroy evangelical liberty nor to impose a necessity upon consciences, since they tell him not to be bothered even if there has been a mistake in the calculations.
I have had to walk a few people through the same question in the last few weeks and to be honest, I have struggled with it as well.
If they are in error, do we separate ourselves from them (i.e. kick them out)? Or who are we “in fellowship” with, and how much should that concern us. For that matter, is fellowship something that is able to be constrained within a man-made,, man-defined organization?
And into that equation today is thrown a few more things to consider. Two scripture passages, a quote from Vatican Council II’s Lumen Gentium, and a quote from the Lutheran Confessions.
All point to something we need to remember, fellowship is defined by God, as being united, first and foremost with God. There is only one church, one body of Christ. Paul is explicit in the quote from Ephesians, as he is in First Corinthians. We are united to Christ, that is what defines us as the ecclesia, those called, those drawn into Jesus, and united to Him at the cross.
That’s why the Roman Catholic Council notes that there are many ways we are linked, including in our baptism, that we are honored by being called Christian. Even though we don’t agree with all they profess, and we don’t recognize the Pope as the successor of Peter. That’s why the Lutheran Confessions clearly point out a time when the church chose unity over what had been declared doctrine, and praise and encourage loving our brothers enough to celebrate God’s grace, even if they are mistaken about the day and date.
Can we be comfortable with error? Is there a point where the links are no more, where what binds us together is severed? I suppose that if what bound someone to Jesus were severed, then the link between would be cut as well. But the work of the church, even then, is to reconcile the one severed from Christ because of sin back to Christ. There is still a link there, just as there was with the prodigal, though the prodigal didn’t know it.
And the Lutheran Confessions make it clear, there are some errors that seem extreme at the time, (i.e. food offered to idols, the dating and celebration of Easter, even the use of the spiritual gifts i 1 Cor. 14) that should not divide us, but that we can overlook those minor errors for the sake of the church, His church.
This means in the caring process, we may not commune together for a season, but it doesn’t stop us from praying for them and with them, it doesn’t stop us from talking, it doesn’t stop us from having the goal of being united in Christ Jesus. Of making every effort to be united in the Spirit. These times, where discipline is broken, where unity is hindered, the goal is still that unity, unity found in the grace and forgiveness and restoration that is the reason Jesus came in the first place.
So next time you look to win the argument, consider whether winning gives you the idea that you are the better or the more orthodox or Biblical believer…and consider whether your actions are conciliatory, or divisive…..
And then, do what builds up the body of Jesus….
Catholic Church. “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
1 When I came to you, my friends, to preach God’s secret truth, I did not use big words and great learning. 2 For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross. 3 So when I came to you, I was weak and trembled all over with fear, 4 and my teaching and message were not delivered with skillful words of human wisdom, but with convincing proof of the power of God’s Spirit. 5 Your faith, then, does not rest on human wisdom but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (TEV)
It is, therefore, an inherent right of the Church to have at its disposal and to employ any of these media insofar as they are necessary or useful for the instruction of Christians and all its efforts for the welfare of souls. It is the duty of Pastors to instruct and guide the faithful so that they, with the help of these same media, may further the salvation and perfection of themselves and of the entire human family. In addition, the laity especially must strive to instill a human and Christian spirit into these media, so that they may fully measure up to the great expectations of mankind and to God’s design.
Yesterday I watched the some of the Patriots press conferences. It started with the coach, then moved to Tom Brady, then Danny Amendola. They were absolutely hilarious, because the reporters kept asking the same questions over and over again, hoping to get a different answer, some great admission about the state of Tom Brady’s hand, and whether he will play Sunday or not.
As they answered them, the press got more and more frustrated, even to the point of asking the Coach if the decision to play Tom Brady will be a game time decision. The coach shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s Friday,” meaning how will he know if it will be a game time decision, if it isn’t game time. Brady and Amendola both gave similar answers, though you could tell they hadn’t quite perfected the flat affect of the Coach.
As I was thinking about that, I thought about the church. We get as distracted as the press corps did, as we create this moral crusade and that moral crusade, and even crusades against moral crusades! Yesterday I saw some ministers argue about who spoke at a pro-life event with such hostility that they looked like they would take each others life!
We need to learn from the Coach, and from St Paul, and in regards to the media, to a document written 50 years ago during Vatican II. We need to know, and present Christ, our hope,to use what we’ve been given in social media for the welfare of souls. (Or to use another phrase, the cure of souls) To see people know God’s mercy, to receive the forgiveness of their sin, to be cleansed of all unrighteousness, to be reconciled to God.
Reconciliation, the revealing of God’s mercy and forgiveness is our job, much as winning football games is the Coach’s job. It is the word we preach, it is the sacrament we administer. It is the reason we do what we do, and the reason we can do what we do!
To help people have faith in God, to help them depend on His mercy, to count on His love for them. That changes everything, it is at that point, when it is revealed, that the victory happens, when the party, even including heaven begins.
This is what we do, this is what we are called to be, walking with God, sharing in His mission. Whether in real life or in social media.
Lord have mercy on us, and walk with us, as we do our job…. AMEN!
Catholic Church. “Decree on the Media of Social Communications: Inter Mirifica.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
Devotional Thought for our broken days:
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. 7 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. 18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound h in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:15-20 HCSB
228 Be filled with faith and rest assured! The Lord tells us this through the prophet Jeremiah: orabitis me, et ego exaudiam vos—whenever you call upon me, whenever you pray!, I will listen to you.
Over many years, I’ve heard people claim the verses in italics as their own guarantee of what they pray for, what they thought they really needed.
I’ve also known people who have been promised that God will do what they ask, whose faith has been crushed because they do not see their prayer answered, The extreme case of that would be my friend Jean, whose daughter was told by her pastor that if she had enough faith, she would be healed of her cancer, without any medical care.
As I read it this morning, in my morning devotions, I realized something. This well-known passage is connected to another well-known passage, the passage about reconciling those who have sinned against us. It is followed by another passage, where Peter asks how many times he has to forgive Andrew, and is told not 7, but 7 times 70.
So this passage about prayer has a specific context, the impossible task of reconciliation and restoration, the return of the prodigal son, the erring brother, the one we’ve been tempted to give up on seeing in God’s presence.
What a comfort this is, for no one is beyond God’s reach, and no one that lives is beyond being called back, even those who have hurt us deeply. (For if we didn’t love them, how could their betrayal us?)
What peace this brings, knowing that God loves and cares for them, and wants to heal and restore them to us. This is the amazing thing about finding ourselves bath in God’s grace, this glorious love, and peace, that He draws us into at the cross.
He is with us, He is listening,! So let us give Him those who we struggle with, forgiving, counting on Him to draw them back and reconcile us into one body, His. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 980-983). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our Days:
18 Here is My Servant whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom My soul delights; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations. 19 He will not argue or shout, and no one will hear His voice in the streets. 20 He will not break a bruised reed, and He will not put out a smoldering wick, until He has led justice to victory. 21 The nations will put their hope in His name.
1 It is also taught among us that one holy Christian church will be and remain forever. This is the assembly of all believers among who the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.
2 For it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word.
194 Nam, et si ambulavero in medio umbrae mortis, non timebo mala—though I should walk through the valley of the shadow of death, no evil will I fear. Neither my wretchedness nor the temptations of the enemy will worry me, quoniam tu mecum es—for you Lord are with me.
Our Lord prayed that His church would be one, as united as God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ are one. Historic churches usually use either the Apostles or Nicene Creed each week, in which they state they believe and depend upon the Holy Spirit to work through the church, which is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
And most of us desire the church to be unified, if by unified we mean that those who disagree with us come to our position, imitate our practice, and bow to our superior, more Christ-like version of the one true faith.
But do we ask why we need to be one?
Do we seek the underlying reason to put our own preferences aside, to work diligently through the different understandings, why we need to humbly listen and work with each other?
It is seen in my devotional readings this morning.
This world is broken without hope. It is walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and it does fear evil, the anxiety seems to be growing at a palpable rate.
Our only hope is in the Lord, who will deal with us with both His incredible power and HIs incredible care. He will nurse us back to heal, like someone tending a bruised plant, the Holy Spirit’s gentle comfort us will take us and kindle in us a roaring fire.
Our unity directly affects that witness, the ability to give that hope. That doesn’t mean we compromise on things critical to having trust in God, but rather, we work all the harder at making it happen. We acknowledge our broken fractured church and pray together, then work to see it become one, for it is one in Christ Jesus.
Lord, give us the desire to see You heal our brokenness, our divisions. Help us to seek you together in prayer, and to work diligently together to give this world the hope it can only find in You. Lord, have mercy on us all, for we are sinners in need of your healing. AMEN!
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 873-876). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
It was an amazing opportunity, a blessing that would have been unheard of at the 450th anniversary of the Reformation. A chance for a Lutheran pastor to explain where we have come from over the last 500 years, and using writings of a Pope, Martin Luther, Vatican II and a leading Lutheran Theology professors, give us hope and urge us on to seek reconciliation.
here is a rough draft recording of the talk…..okay a really rough draft.
May we pray that the Church would be one and that it would be seen as one by us. AMEN.
Devotional Thought for our days….
After the vision of these things I looked, and there was a great number of people, so many that no one could count them. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language of the earth. They were all standing before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. 10 They were shouting in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Rev. 7:9-10 NCV
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:43-47 (NLT)
The goal of the early Augustine, “God and the soul—nothing else”, is not realizable; it is also not Christian. In the last analysis, religion consists, not in the solitary way of the mystic, but in the community of proclaiming and hearing. Our conversation with God and our conversation with one another require and condition one another.
Every once in a while someone will tell me they don’t go to church because they don’t need it. They can worship God in a park, at the beach, in the mountains, by a lake. I almost believe them. After all, they will claim, didn’t Jesus often go away from the disciples to pray?
No, I do believe them. Some of the most intense moments, where I have realized the grace of God, have been those solitary moments when I am still, when I must know that He is God, that He is with me. And it is usually dealing with people that drives me to seek such solitude!
And of course, I am not alone in this. Augustine’s thoughts about this, referenced by Pope Benedict, show a similar desire. Just me and God, just God and my soul, nothing else needed! Benedict XVI sounds similar, if less harsh, to the critiques of Luther in regards to monasticism. Our relationship with God and with each other is the same relationship, it is the same package. Both Paul and Peter describe this in scripture as we are one body, many different parts perhaps, but we are one, and Jesus is our head. The creeds talk about one Church, noted because it is holy ( dedicated and separated to God ) Catholic (universal, across all 4 dimensions), apostolic ( it has a mission, it is sent by God) church ( those drawn together in Christ)
This is the way it was the early church, so in awe of the resurrection of Christ and what it means for us, they couldn’t help but meet together often, to talk about it, to show the love they had for each other. It wasn’t programmed, it wasn’t the result of marketing, it was the joy of being in Christ. Were there problems? Sure, but they worked themselves out as people realized they were reconciled to God.
Ultimately, in heaven, in the presence of God, face to face with Him, we are standing shoulder to shoulder, we are singing loudly together. It is not you, walking in the garden alone with God, We are all His! He walks with all of us, He talked with all of us, and He tells us all, we are His own. That is the way it is.
What does this mean for the church today?
That’s a big question. In a world with tens of thousands of different bodies, each claiming to be the church, yet each a broken fractured part of the one Church. But we can’t ignore the rest! Just as an individual can’t separate themselves from the church, neither should a congregation or even a denomination. There still needs to be a desire, a strong sense of this division is wrong and prayer that God would lead us to wholeness, real wholeness. Found in reconciliation in Christ, not in man made compromise. Still- that we would be one, even as Jesus and the Father are One.
May this be part of what we cry out for, when we cry out, “Lord, Have Mercy!” AMEN!
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
2 I want them to be strengthened and joined together with love so that they may be rich in their understanding. This leads to their knowing fully God’s secret, that is, Christ himself. 3 In him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are safely kept. Col. 2:2-3 NCV
- To attribute to God the good one sees in oneself.
- To recognize that the evil in oneself is attributable only to oneself.
- To make peace with an adversary before sundown.
- Never to despair of God’s mercy. (from the rule of St Benedict)
For at first Jerome, when objections were raised against him (e.g. for his statement, “If anyone says that God demands the impossible, let him be anathema”) simply replied in his Dialog. adv. Pel., Bk. 2 [MPL 23.577], “These things are impossible for our nature but possible for grace.” And he understood grace only in the sense of the aid and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Also Augustine in his first argument with the Pelagians said many things like this: “Grace restores the will so that the restored will fulfills the Law.”
The green words above are from the rule of St Benedict. They are critical for us to understand in these days where division is growing, where people are reacting not to what is said, not even to what they think they heard, but how they interpret it.
One friend recently said that he wouldn’t watch football because of the protests of players. He didn’t listen to what they said, he immediately interpreted it through his emotions, and admitted it, bringing into the equation his father, who was buried at Arlington Cemetery.
I wonder if he realized some of those players have relatives buried there as well?
I am not saying the football teams or those who support their actions are any better at listening to people.
In fact, the anger towards each other is simply reactionary. It is done with though, but not thought about the other people involved.
What originally started with one man, concerned with issues far deeper than a meme or slogan, has polarized many in this country, deepening the rifts. Rifts encouraged by some in the media, rifts that are unavoidable according to some.
Rifts that even divide those in the church, those who are united by something more powerful than anything else known, the power that raised Christ from the dead.
A power that we need to see now.
Chemnitz pointed out that what seems impossible for our nature is possible for grace, specifically the aid and renewal tht the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete/Comforter brings into our situation. The Spirit who is responsible for the good we see in ourselves, and overcomes the evil which we must recognize and take responsibility for, only to accept the grace that will redeem it.
It surprised me, as Dr. Webber quoted the Rule of St Benedict, to see #71 – to make peace with an adversary before sundown, But the context is amazing, for in thinking of that task – that discipline, we could easily despair. “I can’t do it”, “it’s impossible” “They will never…” I could easily despair, to which the Rule responds, “Never despair of God’s mercy”
There is our answer, there is our hope for reconciling the unreconcilable, the hope for healing relationships shattered by history, our present, and concern over our future.
It is the hope we see in Paul’s words in red above, the idea that we can be joined together in love, understanding God’s secret – the hope of being in Christ himself.
Heavenly Father, Lord bring peace to our fractured and divided society. Bring the hope and love that comes by Your Holy Spirit. Help those of us who claim to follow you to do so, to hear those who are our adversaries, and to be with them, that we all may be saved. AMEN!
 Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.
4 Meisel and del Mastro, The Rule of St. Benedict, 52–54.
Devotional Thought for our Day:
1 People of Jerusalem, run through your streets! Look around! See for yourselves! Search the marketplaces! Can you find one person who does what is right and tries to be faithful to God? If you can, the LORD will forgive Jerusalem. Jeremiah 5:1 (TEV)
804 That friend of ours with no false humility used to say: “I haven’t needed to learn how to forgive, because the Lord has taught me how to love.”
Unrighteousness is a contagious disease.
It spreads like wildfire, often consuming those who are trying to fight it the hardest.
We find ourselves caught hating those who hate, gossiping about those who gossip, seeking to be unjust to those who presume are unjust. Not forgiving those who do something unforgivable.
We seriously need to send out search parties to find one righteous, just person. Just one!
At least God lowered the standard from the days of Sodom and Gomorrah! Then Abraham got him down to 10 righteous people. Now we have to find only One! If only there was some way to find that person, if only there was some way He could rise above the crowd, so that God could easily see Him!
The man has been found! He’s been lifted up on the cross! God forgave Jerusalem and all who look to Him for forgiveness!
God’s looked beyond our unrighteousness, beyond our betraying Him, beyond our brokeness and forgave us, not because He had to, but because He loves us. He proved what St. Josemaria states, that one who loves doesn’t have to learn to forgive, the love they are compels them to do so. Love will seek the course of reconciliation, it has to, and that means forgiving.
That is what the righteous and just do…
And that is contagious as well.
Lord, help us ot know we are loved, help us to be so overwhelmed by our experience the incredible height and breadth, depth and width of that love that we begin to love as well, and as we do, forgive as we’ve been forgiven! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3319-3320). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
God says, “I WILL BRING…”
Isaiah 56:1-3a, 6-8
I pray that you realize the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ which has gathered you into His presence here and that you would realize you aren’t just invited to be here, God desires your presence here!
Doing Right and Good defined…
In the first verses of the fifty-sixth chapter of Isaiah, we heard this morning that God wanted us to do this,
“Be just and fair to all, do what is right and good, for I am coming soon to rescue you, and to display my righteousness among you. Blessed are all those who are careful to do this, Blessed are those who honor my sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong….”
That’s a great promise, but perhaps a bit vague. What is right and good to do, what is just and fair? We might have our own ideas, but God gives us a great picture of it in the verse that follows us,
“Don’t let the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD say, “The LORD will never let me be a part of His people.”
This isn’t just God commanding us to do this, this work He asks us to do is revealed in the 6-8th verses as His action, as He blesses those who are committed to His care. He pours out the blessings upon them, even as He has on every single one of us.
And so what God is calling us to do is imitate Him, to share His heart towards people He has created, to have His heart and love all those He loves.
It’s not going to be easy… it is, in fact, it will cause us to take up our cross, this call to follow him.
Who are these outcast & foreigners?
This passage shows two groups of people God loves, foreigners and those who are called outcasts. Or as Deacon Bob is preaching about right now, those people who think they can’t be admitted to our club.
And we need to make sure they never, ever think this…. We can’t let them say, “The Lord will never let me be a part of HIS people!”
The first group is simple – they are people who aren’t like us, who don’t share our genes, or our language, or our culture, or economic or social status. Some translations use foreigner, some describe them as alien, some stranger. Given our church’s makeup, I think he’s talking about Australians because we have members from just about everywhere else! Guyana, Germany, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Indonesia, we even love people from places like Boston and Hemet! Yet the command is to make sure they don’t think and say that God won’t let them be part of us.
Some people still struggle to feel comfortable in our presence, and it is our role to help those who God brings here to know they are welcome, that they are part of His people, and therefore part of us.
God is calling us to proactively make sure they know they are welcome,
In verse 8, God adds in another group – those who are outcast.
Back in the days when Moses and Israel left Egypt and were wandering around the desert, hen the Old Covenant was given to the people of Israel, there were a number of sins that could be committed that would require the sinner to leave the camp of the people of God.
Sometimes it was for a day, sometimes it was for life.
Basically, until they served their time, they were outcast, they had to make do for themselves, they weren’t welcome among the people of God. They were the recognized sinners, or those that condoned the sin that was committed. They were the outcasts, the sinners rejected by their own people, who also rejected themselves. Never again would the joy be theirs, or so they thought.
Ever been there? Ever been in a situation where you weren’t in the in group, where you didn’t understand what was going on, or wonder whether you were part of the church?
Ever wonder if you were beyond God’s desire to forgive, beyond His mercy? Either because people treated you that way, or because you simply felt to guilty?
Ever treated people like they weren’t?
Or maybe, like me, you have been all of the above…
Time to hear God, time to make the foreigner and the outcast welcome..
Filling us with joy!
I want you to hear the gospel from the Old Testament again,
6 “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. 7 I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations. 8 For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.” Isaiah 56:6-8 (NLT)
These promises aren’t just basic entry, by saying that God will accept their offerings, because God is hearing their pray- the prayer of all people, he’s talking about full membership in this family.
Not half-sister, or step brother, but complete membership in the house of God….
For those who were once outcast, victims of their own sin, and who were once foreigners. They are family, because of the love of Jesus on the cross, the cross where we were all made family.
We need to understand, and we need to share with people – that Christ died for all. For you and for me, for people from every language, every tribe, ever culture. For people of every economic group and from every generation.
Jesus died for them all. Every person in Cerritos, Artesia, Norwalk, Buena Park, Cypress, La Palma, Whittier.
All those who are different, all those who have sinned and belong somewhere besides a house of prayer.
Jesus changed all that, as Isaiah prophesied, as God unites us to him on the cross, cleansing us of the sin that could have prevented us from being here.
We need to know this, we need to understand that God died for us, that we might live, and we need to welcome all who would know this, that would come to adore the God who loves us all.
Which is why we have hope, no matter where we’ve come from, no matter what we’ve done wrong. HE can and will restore us! We have hope because of Christ’s death and resurrection for us all.
Devotional Thought for This Day:
5 “But if the enemies of my people want my protection, let them make peace with me. Yes, let them make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:5 TEV
748 Let us make a firm resolution about our friendships. In my thoughts, words and deeds towards my neighbour, whoever he may be, may I not behave as I have done up to now. That is to say, may I never cease to practise charity, or allow indifference to enter my soul.
It is very possible to misread Isaiah in the passage above, to think that the burden of reconciliation God is placing on those who are the enemies of His people. That are the ones to “make peace”, therefore it is their effort, their work. We hear it as a demand from him, as the thundering voice of God’s law, with the undertones of wrath below it.
We choose to hear it as God’s law – as the prophetic voice that will allow us to thrash them unless they prove their intent to make peace. Which means, of course, that we can then have the same attitude, because the enemies of God’s people are our enemies, because we are God’s people, right?
This gives us full license to be holier than thou – or at least holier than those racists, or those politicians, or those other people, you know, the ones that don’t go to our church but go to “that” church, or no church at all.
I even heard that to preach “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you is law, therefore we don’t have to obey it, just confess it when we fail too! ( We need a refresher in Augsburg Confession Article VI)
St. Josemaria’s words caught my attention this morning. He described a desire to change his attitude toward his neighbor, whoever he maybe! He then describes a life that is charitable, that loves, that has compassion, and never allows indifference to enter his soul.
What if that neighbor was an addict to drugs, or dealt them? what if that neighbor was into porn, or and it was wrecking his life and family? What if that neighbor was a militant atheist or someone who morality and ethics we question. What if they murdered someone, deliberately or by neglect? What if that neighbor was one of those in Charlottesville that was rioting? (It doesn’t matter which side, or whether they were those who just wanted to “amp” up the tension)
Each of those people may be identified as our neighbor, and we need to rid ourselves of our apathy, we need to find the ability to be compassionate toward him or her. We need to invite them to make peace with God, and then perhaps, over time, with us.
Which brings us back to Isaiah, and the question about God’s intent about these enemies. Does He mean they have to make peace with Him, atoning for their own sin, proving their intent? Or is it an invitation to be at peace with God, to be drawn to Jesus, and the cross which cleanses us from all sin?
From St. Paul,
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:8-11 (NLT)
Let them make peace, a peace for which the price has already been paid.
It is an invitation, one that will result in them (and us) being cleansed of all sin and unrighteousness.
It is there, in this invitation, that we ALL can find hope. …
Lord Jesus, help us to shed our apathy, our indifference toward our neighbor, and with great compassion and love lead them to where God reconciles them with Himself. And remind us constantly of the wonder of the peace you give us, as by grace you save us. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3115-3117). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
American Bible Society. The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation. 2nd ed. New York: American Bible Society, 1992. Print.