07 September 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

If we use the lives of God's great heroes only as examples, we end in discouragement.  The comparison crushes us to wonder what is the use or hope of a feeble Christian like me.  John the Baptist is most for us when we hear and heed his message - a message of repentance and, above all, a message that points to Christ.  Follow the hand and the words of John as he points to Jesus.  "Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  So your sin and mine, all our failures, our doubting God's plans and promises, our insistence on our own way instead of His.  Christ answers for our sins, the Lamb slain for our forgiveness, our liberation, our being included in God's company of people among whom we know who we are and what we are for.  He associates with such unlikely people as you and me, and with us He would do His wok in the world.  Forgiveness, acceptance, liberation from all our slaveries, a life that is shaped and shines with His love, even in prison and through dreary days. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 273.


Anonymous said...

I assume that in the first sentence “only” modifies “great heroes” rather than “as examples.”

It troubles me to read that I should be crushed by that which does not crush me. Does that mean that I am not a “true” Christian, as has been suggested in so many sermons I have heard during my life? It reads “we”; am I not of the “we” because I am not crushed? God in His mercy and forbearance saw to it that we would learn of the shortcomings of all of the “great heroes”. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Elijah and many more one could name committed grievous sins, in spite of being truly “great heroes.” Scripture does not record these so that we could either gloat about our own righteousness, or be crushed in our hope, but so that we would be confirmed in the knowledge that every human being lives by the grace and mercy of God.

If we want to heed John’s message, we will settle for something far less than what we have already received. John, himself, said, (Matthew 3: 11) "I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” We repented in the waters of Baptism, in which we drowned and were brought back to life as children of God. This “repentance” is not the same as that to which John called, or by which we confess the sins we commit daily as children of God. Otherwise our Lord would have taught us, “And bring us to repentance,” rather than, “And forgive us our sins.” (The English version of The Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article III. Of Repentance, Of the False Repentance of the Papists, “And in Christians this repentance continues until death …” is a mistranslation)

And it begs the question, “What Christian would reflect on the example of God’s great heroes without knowing the greatest hero, the Valiant One, whom God Himself elected?” The straw men who have been destroyed in Christian sermons could fill many large barns.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

William Weedon said...

Dear George,

I think the "only" was intended to modify "as examples." His point being that when we regard the great saints solely as examples of the heroic virtues that they demonstrated we miss out on the saint's greatest joy for us - which is not to be a mere example, but to be our brother or sister in the fight and a testimony to what the grace of God can accomplish in a life.