+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.
Text: Matthew 28:19-20
Theme: His Ever-Present Love
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
God is a compulsive lover. To say that God loves compulsively is to say that He is driven to do so as an expression of His true nature. Because God is giver; it is His nature to love. His nature and love are expressed in His activity towards us. God creates, sustains and redeems. He does these things according to His nature as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is nothing more relevant to all people than the intent and activity of God. It is His intent to love people until the end. Christ is the end; just as He is the beginning. The activity of Christ is the definitive expression of the love of the triune God.
God loves us concretely and not abstractly, so the expression of His love connotes His presence. God is present everywhere, but He desires to be present with human beings in a saving manner. When Christ said to His disciples, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,”1 He didn’t mean He was merely with them in thought or in some abstract way. He meant He would still be with them in a definite manner with power to act. The specifics involve the Holy Spirit, the word and the sacraments. Through these means, and because of the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ, the fullness of God is communicated to believers.
From the original creation, through the believer’s spiritual resurrection in baptism, to the final establishment of the new heaven and earth, the Trinity shares His life with the world. It’s a life that’s often rejected as people prefer to make their own way in the world. The mind held captive by selfishness and unbelief will always do what the heart desires. The heart that is not regenerated, not enlightened by the gospel, will always desire to be sovereign. And that is the epitome of sinfulness; the arrogance that makes one’s self, one’s master. Now, that can be pursed in a most civil manner, mind you. The perpetration of evil against others is not necessarily the intent. Yet, self-autonomy always has as its consequence estrangement from God and lack of love for the neighbour. The Holy Spirit’s task is indeed a monumental one. He must not only bring life and light where there is spiritual death and darkness, but He must also continually sanctify and renew us believers who, nevertheless, remain sinners. He is up to the task.
There could hardly be a more fitting occasion than Trinity Sunday for a baptism. Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”2 In baptism, the Holy Spirit makes entry into the lives of those who were spiritually dead in sin. And He doesn’t just pass through. He accompanies God’s word at all times. He takes you again and again through the cleansing waters; each and every time your sins are laid at the feet of the Crucified and you receive His mercy. Your age or aptitude don’t matter. The promise of God’s grace is the same for the infant as it is for the mature person. Jesus was crucified and He rose again for all. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This same Saviour feeds us with holy food from His altar.
The blessings we participate in here should not be taken for granted. Christianity is quickly falling out of favour with the culture at large. Values that used to be shared are being abandoned or overturned. And these aren’t simply matters of politics or philosophy. Humility in the face of an Almighty Creator and Judge is thought by many to be a quaint vestige of a faith system that’s had its day. The orderliness that God instituted for the wellbeing of church, government, and community is being rejected in favour of the supreme right of the individual. Anarchy’s history is not pretty but the lesson must be learned again, and again.
Dear friends, we must understand, clearly, for example, what some in our society are advocating for in matters of sexuality and marriage. Our culture has long since given up the view of sanctity in marriage. Casual sexual relationships have been the norm for some time, even among Christians. And now the agenda is pushing right past the question of homosexual unions to question of gender identity. Should children not only be allowed, but even encouraged to choose their own gender! It will do no good to bury our heads in the sand. These matters affect us all. The truth of God’s created order is at stake and this pertains to the secular society as well as the church.
Satan cultivates the soil deeply, scatters the seed broadly, and waters the ground frequently. But we are wise to his intentions. He seeks to part us from the truth. Underlying these matters is the question of what is true and how value is assessed. Do humans at any place and time make a collective judgment, or is there an unalterable truth that transcends ages, epochs, and cultures? Does everything change of necessity, constantly morphing into something else? Or does the unchanging God restore to permanence and perfection that which had become corrupted? A collision of worldviews is in motion. The attendant circumstances are different, but the struggle is the same one that always confronts the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”3 The Bible promises the oppression of Christian truth, not acceptance. It speaks of persecution, not privilege. It calls for sacrifice, not selfishness. Only the narrow road reaches the destination. Living by God’s grace isn’t about popularity, but integrity.
But Christians aren’t defeatists. We know God is with us. How do you know that Christ is with you when the results come back from the doctor and the diagnosis is cancer? How do you know Christ is with you when the phone rings in the middle of the night because there’s been a tragedy? How do you know Christ is with you when your marriage seems to be falling apart? How do you know Christ is with you when you are depressed, or feel lost and despairing? How do you know Christ is with you when you are overcome with anxiety and uncertainty about the future? Jesus came in the flesh. He suffered, conquered death, and He will come again. He knows us intimately.
We so easily and sometimes eagerly draw false conclusions. Don’t conclude that because some crisis in your life didn’t work out to your satisfaction that God wasn’t with you. Don’t base your understanding on some apparent sign, perception, or feeling. Rely on what you know of the nature and will of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. We are all by doubters by nature. But God is trustworthy. Even His chastisement is for our good. He will not abandon you. He cherishes your very soul.
Not only is Christ with you, He is in you, and most importantly for you. He is “for you” on the altar of sacrifice. He is “for you” in the midst of Satan’s accusations. He is “for you” when you are drowning in your sins. He is “for you” in the face of death. He is “for you” before the judgment seat. The triune God is with us and that as a compulsive lover. Today is Trinity Sunday. Rejoice that you bear His name! “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”4
+ In nomine Jesu +
11 June 2017
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt
1 Matthew 28:20
2 Matthew 28:19-20
3 John 18:36
4 2 Corinthians 13:14