Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost C

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: Luke 18:1-8
Theme: God’s Justice

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

The Christian life is a marathon not a sprint. God deals with us accordingly. The temptation to lose heart, to give up- to concede in the mind and will that God will not intervene- is always lurking about. The perceived inaction of God is easily misconstrued. People start to doubt the certainty of God’s help and search for other measures of security. Even the disciples were prone to this. Today He told them the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge.

The widow’s determination is commended. But the contrast between God and this judge is the main point. Jesus wants us to see the comparison. It is necessary that He constantly brings things into perspective. As sinful humans we are incessantly plagued with self-focused and narrow-minded vision. Even an unscrupulous person in authority may respond to the requests of someone they are not naturally inclined to assist. No doubt this unrighteous judge had no vested interest in helping the widow. He was frustrated and irritated by her. Yet he reasoned it was better to get her off his back than keep hearing her cries for justice. How much more inclined to us is our merciful God than this judge was to the widow!

Jesus says, “And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.”1 What a tremendous promise we have here from God. God acts. And when its time He acts quickly. We only waste time and energy if we fret and worry about when that time will be. It can be a vicious and never-ending cycle. When will the locusts come and how bad will they be? What will happen to the grain prices? When will so and so apologise so our relationship can be reconciled? How will the government accomplish anything worthwhile? Does God not see? Can He not hear?

The Bible bids us to persist in our prayers and wait for God’s will to be carried out in His time. Our energies and resources are to be directed elsewhere. The prophet Isaiah says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, not His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”2 Can we admit that we often try to coerce God into coming into line with our agendas? Dare we act in arrogance or selfishness? Dare we dismiss our sins as insignificant, remain unrepentant and yet demand justice and fairness from God?

How often are our complaints due to ignorance His word? Here is what Paul says to Timothy, “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”3 From infancy! How little regard there is for this truth today. The Bible is treated like an obsolete resource that parents can refer their children to when and if they show interest at some point, rather than the very word of God. Still, where the Word is proclaimed, the Spirit works when and where He pleases. Repentance is initiated. Faith is created and the church is called into existence and enlarged.

When God begins something He promises the means to nourish and complete it. The great importance of infant baptism should be noted here. Baptism is a promise of grace and an actual means by which the Holy Spirit imparts forgiveness in Christ. There is no limit of age. An infant can hear the voice of God, just as it can hear-even before birth- the voice of its father or mother. Who are we to limit the work of the Holy Spirit on the heart, mind, and will of another? God’s work is often hidden to the naked eye, but in faith we trust His activity is taking place.

Trusting that God is both Creator and Redeemer gives us a very different perspective on reality. Our hope doesn’t rest in humanity, but in the hands of Him who was cradled in a manger and had His arms stretched out on a cross. Jesus forgives our sins. He reconciles us to the Father by giving His own life. He resolves the crises of mankind. He finally subdues all forces of evil. He banishes all falsehood, Satan, and hell. He declares sinners to be righteous. Our hope doesn’t lie in scientific solutions. Our reconciliation isn’t in human ingenuity or our justice in perfect government. Christ is Saviour and Lord.

That doesn’t mean the Bible ever calls on us to be na├»ve or gullible optimists. We don’t throw caution to the wind. Salvation is not a given. It is a gift. Knowledge of who we are and what we are capable of –that is, our capacity for evil- drives our need for God. To know yourself is to know you need forgiveness. This reality never changes while you draw life and breath. We are baptized and so live in repentance. In Christ we are secure but never resting on our laurels. We can be content but never lax. St. Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful.”4 Our eternal well-being is hardly a trivial or light-hearted matter. But this never excludes joy, hope, and peace. The Holy Spirit lifts the heaviest loads off the most burdened consciences. He shines the light of Christ into the darkest of hearts.

These same truths are what we mirror to those outside the communion of saints. Our mission to the world should be marked with urgency, but not panic. We have a positive outlook, but not baseless giddiness; skepticism of human ability but confidence in divine truths. These truths teach us to sacrifice for the sake of the disadvantaged, especially spiritually, take risks for the unenlightened, and generally love our neighbour.

Outcomes are left to God. But we have the joy of knowing the church is always growing because the number of those in heaven is never decreased. God prevails for His saints, in their midst and on their behalf. He does bring justice. None will finally oppose Him. Widows will be given a fair trial. The downtrodden will be lifted up. Those without a voice will be heard. Those in bondage will be set free. The crucified, risen and living Christ sees to these things. We look forward to the unhindered enjoyment of His victory as Jeremiah says today, “The time is coming…I will put My law in their minds and write it on their heart…no longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest.”5 Amen.

+ in nomine Jesu +

Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost
17 October 2010
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 Luke 18:7-8
2 Isaiah 59:1-2
3 2 Timothy 3:15
4 1 Peter 5:8
5 Jeremiah 31:31, 33-34