Friday, November 04, 2005

Whole Lotta Leavin' Goin' On!

It takes me a week’s worth of preaching a text, and then I start to get it. Sorta!

We have chapel every day at Good Shepherd Lutheran School. That saves me. All week long, I have to remain in His Word. Otherwise, the little kids come and stare at me for thirty minutes. That would be hard to take, even for an egotist like me!

So, there’s nothing else to do but remain in His Word. That’s what Jesus says makes us disciples. That’s what keeps us in the Truth. That’s what sets us free.

Jesus said that in John 8. We heard it at the festival of the Reformation this past week. “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you remain in my Word, you will truly be my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

To the Jews – who had BELIEVED in Him, Jesus said that. What a scary thing to hafta do! Preach to a bunch of BELIEVERS, I mean!

In John 8, Jesus shows us how dangerous believing can be in the heart of a sinner. Believing, as opposed to remaining in His Word.

Believing is the cause of so much trouble in the Church these days, isn’t it? Or should I say, Be-leaving? As soon as Jesus said the words above, the believers started leaving!

“What do you mean we will be set free? We are Abraham’s descendants and haven’t been slaves to anyone!”

So, these believers said, essentially, “Thanks, but no thanks. We’ll just be-leaving now!”

And it gets worse!

Jesus tells them further, for their eternal life, for their eternal sonship with the Father, for their REMAINING in His Word, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

They should have remained in that, saying, “Amen! We’re slaves to sin! Please, Jesus, set us free!”

Instead, they replied (in effect), “We’ll just be-leaving now. Catch ya later, Jesus!”

But Jesus kept speaking, to save them. He said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free, indeed.” And then He said something about them wanting to kill Him, because of who their daddy is! They departed big time on that one!

“We have Abraham as our Father,” they protested. And, despite all the leavin’ goin’ on, Jesus still wasn’t willing to just have the door smack ‘em in their “buts.” I mean, all the “buts” be-leavers keep putting in the way of Christ’s Words. “But we’re Abraham’s offspring . . . But we’re not slaves to anyone . . . But how can you talk that way to us . . . we BELIEVE!”

The problem Jesus has in John 8 is all the BELIEVING going on – as opposed to remaining in His Word. By the end of the chapter, the Jews who had BELIEVED in Jesus, who had put their FAITH in Him, were calling Him demon-possessed and picking up stones to throw at Him! It’s always dangerous when you’re speaking to BELIEVERS.

Better than our believing, Christ puts forth His Word. THAT’S what sets us free!

Anything going on inside of me won’t do it. Why? ‘Cause I BELIEVE too much!

I believe that I can get away with some secret sin and that won’t do me any harm.

I believe that I can get away with murder – OK, at least with SPEEDING – if I keep a close enough watch out for that car parked on the side of the road facing traffic.

I believe I can go a whole lot longer than Jesus thinks I can without His Word. That’s why I go so many minutes, hours or days without it. Don’t you?

What’s the reason people stay away from Jesus’ Word and Sacraments on Sunday? They BELIEVE they can, that it won’t do them or their children that much harm. They BELIEVE that sleeping in is more important than remaining in God’s Word. Come Monday? They’ll believe they just can’t miss work and their kids just can’t miss school, because Mom and Dad can’t miss work. Sunday? Oh, the kids had the sniffles then. We stayed home. That was so we could all get up on Monday and go to what really counts!

See how our believing goes? It makes us be-LEAVERS! Leaving God’s Word, that is. Not remaining where Jesus says faith is sure and hope is solid, and sinners are set free!

Believing and be-LEAVING too often go together. That’s what turned things sour in John 8. Believers just wouldn’t remain in what Christ was saying. There’s a whole lot of repentance for us in that!

Do we believe that things aren’t working out so well in that marriage God has given us, and so, we’ll just be leaving, thank you very much, no matter what God says?

Do we believe that we just can’t control ourselves, and so, we’ll just be leaving what God says about a godly use of sexuality outside of marriage?

Do we believe we just can’t live without another drink, and so, we’ll just be leaving what God says about sobriety, about self-control, about whatever?

Do we believe there isn’t any hope of reconciliation, of repentance and forgiveness? Do we believe it’s all gone on too long, and there’s no chance – after all that praying, after all those times when we pretended to try – and so, what use is there to go and speak with the pastor, confess our sins, beg God for His mercy and for the strength to carry on and do better in our lives?

Do we believe that? It’s why so many leave, not only marriages, but also the Services of God’s House. A world of hurt is left in the wake of that kind of be-leaving.

Jesus locates believing in this: “My Word.” Remain in it, because it saves you. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” And from that, you may leave all of the thoughts and fears and feelings that say something different. You may leave your sin, your heartache, your trouble behind. “I say you are free. I say you are holy, forgiven! I say you have a Father in heaven who now smiles on you because of Me. Now, remain in that. It’s what believing really is. Abiding where MY SPEAKING says as much as ever will need saying. Where My Word is the beginning and end of things, and of all things in between.”

The kids in chapel got a smidgen of that this morning. They know now, that come Saturday night, their believing may well tell them it’s OK to stay up late, and that may get in the way of remaining safe. It may have them leaving off the Word of God the next morning.

The kids have heard now, come Sunday, Mom and Dad and Junior and Juniorette may believe that other things are far more pressing than remaining where Christ says. So, they’ll just be-LEAVING God’s Good Word, and that won’t save. It can only damn.

The kids know where the Word will be for them on Sunday. It will be in the mouth of a sinner, so that it may also be in sinners’ ears. And that Word is the Son’s, speaking to slaves like us. Pointing us to our Baptisms. Delivering the Absolution. Leading us on to His Supper. It will be pulling us over and calling us to repentance for the be-leaving too often going on, and will deliver, in its place, what saves us. The speaking of God’s Only Son, the Word of God made flesh for our salvation, that sets us free.

Remaining in that is TRUE believing.



Anonymous Anonymous said...
I know what I like and I like it, have a laugh on me.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Xrysostom said...

Welcome to the Lutheran blogosphere, good brother. You'll probably want to go to the setup screen's comments department and set both your blogs to "yes" for word verification. This helps keep the unwanted computer-generated blog-spam away.

Walt +

9:18 AM  

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