Letting God be the God He is
by PASTOR MARK W. LOVE
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones,” Proverbs 3:5-8.
If my understanding is correct, of Luther’s understanding of God and man’s relationship to God, it is set down for us like this: Let God be the God that He is, and let me and all mankind be what we are, creatures and not Gods.
Sin is our attempt to be other than we are—God. We do this because we do not trust our creator and thus proceed to make decisions and take actions that are not ours, as creatures, to make or take.
In Jesus Christ we find a man without sin. Why? Because Jesus did not assume a role that was not His.
He was perfect in His manhood because He lived the life of a man, as man was to live it, and died the death of a man. Just like everyone else who was created in this flesh, Jesus lived by the rules of the flesh and lived them so closely that as all flesh must die, so Jesus also died.
In the cross of Christ we find God in man, living, suffering and dying like all men and women do, not to take it away, but to give and fill all suffering and death with purpose and blessing.
In baptism, God the Holy Spirit comes and by the grace of God, puts to death the power of our sinful nature, with all its desires to be other than what God created us to be, and created in us a new life that is pleased and rejoices to be the creature that God created in Jesus Christ. This new life rejoices to be a creature of God in Jesus Christ, but this life is lived by faith in God, faith that believes and knows not the outcome of each day, but faith that believes God is being God to the fullest in our lives. This faith assures us all of a good outcome, whether for life here or death.
The way of living this new life in Christ is found in the Word of God, the law of God. The law then becomes not rules and regulations, but they show us the way to be what God created us to be, both at the beginning of Creation, and in the new birth of faith in Jesus Christ.
The goal then for life here is not first and foremost a moral code, but it becomes for us a goal of being the creatures God originally intended us to be at the creation of the world. By the grace of God we are given new life and enabled to be the creatures of God’s creation. It is by faith in God being God, and being God in us through Jesus Christ, that we live out our new life in the day-to-day activities.
Our sins occur when we stop being creatures, created to serve God and all of creation, and start attempting to be God. This begins in the heart that is not satisfied with being a mere creature, in the heart that isn’t satisfied with others doing more, the heart that isn’t satisfied with how others do things, the heart that isn’t satisfied to let God be God and accomplish His will through other creatures. Such a heart proceeds to seek its own satisfaction. How does this work itself out in the life of a person?
Let’s take worship for example. The heart, and thus the person who isn’t satisfied with God being God, seeks things that will satisfy themselves rather than God. Summer is coming and it’s “going up north” season. Such a heart will justify their absence in worship by their desire to get away to the lake or the cabin. Going to the lake or the cabin isn’t a problem as long as, while there, the believer takes the time to worship the Lord. In letting God be God, we let ourselves be the creatures who need Him to feed and nourish us in worship. When you and I let God be God, He and His will fill everything we are and thus everything we see and do. We understand ourselves to be the instruments, the means through which He carries out His divine acts of love and mercy.
By the grace of God, a believer is brought into a faith relationship to Jesus Christ. In this relationship, our Lord Jesus brings us God as He really is and makes us as we are to really be through baptism. In this relationship, we live by letting Jesus be Jesus who daily saves and leads, and we, by faith, live by following, so that together we may follow Him who is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life.