You, our God, have been just in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. – Nehemiah 9:33
Paul wrote: When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy. – Titus 3:4–5
I want to be more edgy, to have a clearer focus, to be more creative in my writing, teaching, and preaching. There are two factors influencing this desire. One is an encounter with a website, ChristHoldFast. This group are gospel-centered, grace-focused, creative and challenging all at the same time. That’s a combination I particularly appreciate, and I want to up my game in that regard. These desires and inspirations come together with my a focus in 2017 as The Year of Good News.
The Year of Good News
In 1517 a Roman Catholic Monk took a stand against the corruption he saw in the Church of his day, and soon discovered that there was a problem beyond corruption, greed, and power mongering. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was at stake. He railed against the sale of indulgences, the teaching that we must do good works in order to be saved, that the Bible was not the only source of truth, and that only the priests could mediate God’s grace and favor. Speaking out against all these things ultimately got him excommunicated, and made him a hero of the German people. Today millions of people call themselves Lutherans – a term of derision offered by those who sought to shut him up and stop his work. He is famously known for three or four “solos” (as in “alone”):
- grace alone; through
- faith alone; centered in
- Christ alone; revealed in
- Scripture alone.
With all that in mind, these verses from the Moravian Daily Texts offer an opportunity to reflect on the Good News with an Edge. The edge is while God has always acted faithfully, we have acted wickedly. Yet in his mercy, God has saved us. We can claim no cause for God’s goodness, mercy, love, or salvation. That means that we are wicked, evil sinners. It should not surprise us when that leaks out in our relationships with others, or is visited on us in other’s relationships with us. As the ChristHoldFast blog says, “you are a greater sinner than you think (Isaiah 64:6-7) and the good news that Christ is a greater savior than you can imagine (Romans 5:6-11).”
What if we were to embrace both of these truths strongly? It would put an end to hubris and arrogance. It would raise up a paean of praise to God from our hearts – whatever is going on in our lives here and now. Bad things happening? Why would we expect anything else: we’re sinners in a sinful world. God’s grace, love, mercy and salvation given to us? What more could we ask for? An eternal experience of God’s love without the intrusion of sin, sickness, sorrow, suffering, Satan is that which Jesus has won for us.
In the meantime, how do we live? Seems to me that this calls for humility, thankfulness, compassion toward others, and a desire some how to help others experience the blessings of God’s mercy and love.
A Note About These Blog Post Bible Passages
I regularly use the Moravian Daily Texts for these blog posts. They provide two readings every day, which I read, consider, and the write about here. Each day there is an Old Testament which offers some sort of promise, encouragement, admonition or comfort. Then comes a New Testament text which contains some point of Christian teaching to expand on the Old Testament text.