by Daniel T. Kerr
Grace and peace be with you.
This passage from Paul talks about our relationship with our creator. Whether we are to travel that road to glory or the road that leads us to the cross. It gives us hope that we can overcome the issues of working our way to heaven by telling us that we don’t have to be captive to the flesh. And, that if we but turn ourselves over to Jesus and live by His spirit we can live through the spirit into redemption.
Now, Luther will tell us that we must be in utter despair towards our own salvation. that we are in bondage to the old sinful self. The flesh. Luther will tell us that we can only reach that point of our salvation thru utter humbleness in seeking the one Christ who came before us so that we can follow His footsteps to the criminal’s cross. The cross that we find much easier to look through. Look around. Look everywhere except – AT. The cross that we are called to look up and see ourselves hanging there. Seeing that there’s squat that we can do for ourselves. Seeing that all the rituals, all the good order, all the machinations that we have invented, have done nothing, can do nothing, will do nothing to span the vast crevasse of separation between us and God.
So, brothers and sisters, what do we do with the writings of Paul today? Do we just listen passively and go on about our business thinking that this is to negative? That we are somehow made to feel saddened by these harsh words. After all, we just can’t help but try to help ourselves to heaven. It’s human nature, after all, to accept with skepticism the concept that we don’t have to do anything to be saved, that Christ has already done everything for us. Ya know, it just sounds too easy doesn’t it? Sounds too good to be true. But, it really is that easy. That simple. Amen?!
However, and this is a big however, we just can’t sit back and do nothing, now that we know that we are saved by grace thru faith in Jesus Christ, We have been given responsibility. Just as the first man and woman were given the responsibility to care for our world, we are given that same responsibility. Just as we are to use our baptism, as Luther would state, on a daily basis, we must care for that which is around us on a daily basis. And just as we are a creation of the creator, we must care for what the creator has created and entrusted to us. In our passive capacity to do good, we are actively seeking Christ out so that we can work through Him to do good. Amen?!
Now, Paul writes that we are joint heirs with Christ which must, undoubtedly, mean that we have an entrusted stake in this world and all that resides within it. Neglect one part and another suffers. Unintentional consequences crop up all the time. From programs restricting lumber operations in California which have had the unintentional result of raising the numbers of major forest fires. To the pressure on McDonald’s to switch from clam shells to paper shells a few years ago which have had the unintentional effect of increasing our land-fills, to programs designed to save endangered species which have had the unintentional problem of starving or overpopulating other species. Humans, humans have an abundant ability to miscalculate through good intentions, that natural ebb and flow of God’s nature.
My brothers and sisters, if we are joint heirs, truly joint heirs with Christ as Paul writes, then I believe we are called to discern about the long range consequences of our actions concerning social stands that we take. And if our will is in bondage to sin as Luther would state, then I believe that we must not elevate our rather short-term sights over issues that have been around a lot longer than we have.
Sometimes I wonder if we continuously erect our very own Tower of Babels in our haste to solve all the problems of this world. Thinking that we have all the true and good answers. Sometimes I wonder if we continuously neglect to heed the calling that Christ came down off that criminal’s cross to call us to. So wrapped up in our own perspectives and positions that we can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees in trying to make sure our cause gets the attention we believe it deserves over the cause of Jesus Christ. So, I wonder if we, as persons who have very short memories, can truly accept the grace that is ours through faith and remember that this grace is what enables us to live and have true freedom that can only be had through faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes I wonder my brothers and sisters. Sometimes I wonder. I know I come up short myself rather frequently.
In matters concerning the world around us, it may be useful to remember that the world was created, has existed, and will be here long after we are gone. Do we turn a blinds eye towards certain abuses that appear to endanger the creation? Certainly not. But, events in Haiti showed us that the world operates on its own timetable. Its own sense of balance. No human can alter this permanently. Hurricane Katrina showed us that human planning for nature generally comes up short. We can help in preserving what was given to us to serve, we can help in fending off the more flagrant spreaders of waste and abuse, we can help, but the last hurricane to hit Galveston Island in Texas, wiping it clean, shows us that God has put in place environmental keys that alter even the most careful of human planning.
So, brothers and sisters, How do we deal with this whole saved by grace through faith thing that keeps getting in our way to solving the down and dirty, nitty gritty problems of this world? Should we? How do we ride the teeter-totter of decisions as to what we must do as Christ’s followers for this world? Can we? How do we truly look at the cross, and not through it or around it, so we can truly hold it within our hearts and look at the world given to us as stewards in this light? Hard to do in the light of this world. Amen?!
Brothers and sisters, it may be as simple as just letting it all go. It may be as simple as standing still and listening to the sound of the spirit as it tries to speak to us rather than jumping on whatever popular cause might be at any given moment. It may be, my brothers and sisters, as Paul wrote, that the very hope we do not see is the very hope that we can be set free from being of the world and, at the same time, through the hope and the grace of Jesus Christ to be in the world. And it may be, my brothers and sisters, it may be as simple as looking through the lens of that thief on the cross that saw what most did not see. A Jesus that is fully human, a Jesus that is fully divine. A Jesus that went up there and suffered a criminal’s death so that we can have the true freedom that only comes through Him. A Jesus that came down off that criminal’s cross so we could share in the abundance that is freely given to us all. Amen?!
Yes, brothers and sisters, we are called to a special place. As stewards of God’s creation. As intelligent human beings stricken with the awesome responsibilities to make judgment calls based on wide varieties of opinions. As open minded individuals that are tasked with rising above whatever current political and social climate exists so that where we are called to lead, where we are called to serve, where we are called to follow, where we are called, will be for the best interests of those we embrace in the name of Jesus Christ.
Yes brothers and sisters, we are called. We can listen. We can not.
And all God’s children will say, Amen!!