Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 8

I Peter 1:13-16 - Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

There seems to be a common complaint among some Christians that there can be too much teaching about grace. If we focus too much on what Jesus has done for us, it is suggested, we will never learn how to live the Christian life. Preachers of grace are blamed for excusing sinful behavior. Too much grace is called “cheap” grace because it does not drive us to talk about what it looks like to lay down your life for Jesus. Sure, the Gospel of Jesus is great, we all love it! But, what we really need is guidance and direction. We really need the laws and rules of God to show us how to live! So, maybe we need to hear about God’s grace a little less.

I had a professor in college who told our class that if such comments were ever made to a pastor, he was on the right track! Too often, preaching about the death and resurrection for sinners (aka the Gospel, grace) seems to get in the way of what we are really interested in: ourselves. In which case, we need to hear of our sin and God’s mercy all the more!

Peter is a preacher of grace. Today in our reading he calls us to holy living and obedience. But, he doesn’t do so by saying, “Enough on God’s grace. You all understand Jesus just fine. Now we need to get down to the real business of your holiness!” No, to drive them to holiness and obedience, Peter puts the bloody cross and empty tomb right in their faces! “Therefore (because of all the grace we’ve been talking about)…set your hope on…grace!” Look to Jesus for your hope. By fixing your eyes on Him, by tuning your ears to His gospel, you will be set apart from this world so full of evil desires and ignorance. You are holy, for you are sprinkled with the blood of Christ (1 Peter. 1:2). So, be holy! Obey God! And do so by turning your gaze from your holiness and obedience and setting your hope on the grace of Jesus for you! His grace is not cheap at all. In fact, it’s free!

Father, forgive me for not taking your gospel seriously enough. Forgive me for being more concerned about my holiness than Jesus. Forgive me for not seeking my holiness in the wounds of your Son. And I thank you, that in spite of all of this, you forgive me again. I thank you that you’ll do it tomorrow, too. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob


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