Beloved Saints of Immanuel,
Christ is Risen! LCMS Churches of our size never get to hear a sermon on the seventh Sunday of Easter, because we typically celebrate Ascension that Sunday. But here is a brief “midweek sized” version. Words from the actual text are in CAPS. I am speaking of the LCMS in general, not necessarily of our Church. But if the shoe fits, I’ll repent too. In Jesus’ love, +Pastor
1 Peter 4:7–14 beginning with v 7: THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND
When you read THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND, you get this first Passover in Egypt flavor: Eat with your belts tight for travel, this is going down right. . . now. But as American Christians, we have read texts like this and said, “yeah, THE END OF ALL THINGS, that FOREIGN alarmist part was for those first persecuted Christians, but if we can ferrite out anything useful to apply to our lives here and now where Christians are many and respected, amen. Not anymore.
BELOVED, THINK IT NOT STRANGE CONCERNING THE FIRE PRESSURING YOU, AS THOUGH SOME FOREIGN THING WAS COMING TO PASS ON YOU. Not FOREIGN. Think about it. The FOREIGN THING was happening to us most of our lives, when we were many and respected, when things were inside-out. What do I mean by inside-out? We looked for comfort in the world and for drama in the Church. Inside-out. We had no PRESSURE from the outside world, Christians were tolerated; the only FIERY TRIALS were inside the Church, the drama of the voters’ meetings, and the backbiting, settling for cultural Lutheranism over true Reformation, and consequently the autoimmune diseases of heresy have yanked the Church inside out and diluted the Gospel that we were supposed to give the world.
Outside, we were world-beaters like everyone else, we wove the scarlet thread of redemption into the American Flag like everyone else, looking for “our best life now,” like everyone else, and so we fumbled to bring our irrelevant brand of Jesus to the outside world that already accepted us as their own. That was STRANGE.
While inside, tearing other Christians down, exposing each other’s’ shame is insanity. SOMETHING FOREIGN WAS HAPPENING TO US! Lovelessness. Not only on the inside, but on the outside. Editing our Creed so that the world would be comfortable with us, and we would be comfortable in the world, when we owed them the truth? We were inside-out. We thought that if we just became a little more like the world, the world would like us, and come with us. But it was a mirage: The only way they join us, is the same way we did; we hated ourselves, and ran to Christ. But to our shame, it was the world that rejected our cowardly offer at détente, in order to keep their creed.
So now Bible times are back. Now the outside is out, CALLING EVIL GOOD, AND GOOD EVIL and bringing the heat upon Christians to do the same. Or haven’t you notice the Bill of Rights evaporating? And the Church panics like this was SOME FOREIGN THING not included in the brochure. But it is not STRANGE. Jesus told us it would happen, and St. Peter puts it in the brochure.
Outside, it’s the very trials that we suffer at the hands of the world that are the holy evidence that we are the BLESSED. Now these Scriptures on persecution don’t seem FOREIGN at all. Not anymore.
And neither do the Scriptures on the Church inside. Jesus invites us to the inside that’s in, the sanctuary from the world, and for the world, that was here for us all along, undiluted, a culture all its own, where His divine gifts flow in abundance, WHERE THIEVES CANNOT BREAK IN AND STEAL, where RADICAL LOVE IS FIRST IN ALL THINGS.
Let’s take the grace inside the Church as the Holy Spirit describes it! HOSPITABLE ONE TO ANOTHER WITHOUT BICKERING. Redeemed sinners who have each other’s back, both with our mouths and our wallets. JUST AS EACH RECEIVED A GIFT OF GRACE, now that we’re forgiven, we can afford to SERVE THE SAME TO EACH OTHER AS GOOD STEWARDS that Christ by His strength colors into instruments in His orchestra of grace.
Having had our own sins covered, LET A MAN SPEAK AS THE ORACLES OF GOD, the highest of which is covering sins! LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS. Covering sins means atonement! Atonement is what Jesus did on the cross, and atonement is the talk we talk.
That’s true sanity according to the Scriptures. Using the power that Christ has breathed on us, saying to that sin, “PULL YOURSELF UP BY THE ROOTS from this poor terrified sinner AND PLANT YOURSELF in the cross of Christ and knowing IT WILL OBEY YOU. Cover sins! SANE and BLESSED! Inside-out? Jesus puts it right.
In Christ, in holy Church, BE SANE, BEING SOBER AND CLEAR TO PRAY, IN ORDER THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD BE GLORIFIED THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, whether by love ruling inside the Church, or by the heat of reproach brought to bear on us outside by the world, JUST AS YOU ARE PARTAKERS OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS; BLESSED ARE YOU, FOR THE SPIRIT OF GLORY AND OF GOD RESTS UPON YOU. Amen