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 […]
Pastor Mark W. Love
The omnipotent vulnerability of God by PASTOR MARK W. LOVE St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Rockford “Christ helps us,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from his prison cell, “not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering… Only the suffering God can help.” (Letters and Papers from Prison, pp. 360-61, Trans. R.H. Fuller-Macmillan New York 1972) When it comes to loving mankind, God does not need to be pushed into the full consequences of living out His love. It is in living out the fullness of His love that God is being who God is. Such love, in its willingness to suffer the full consequences of that love, is judged by fallen human reason to make God too weak and too vulnerable. Such love would seem to deny His omnipotence. Yet it is in such weakness and vulnerability that God demonstrates the true omnipotence of His love in that He freely empties Himself and suffers for the sake of those He loves. Such love does not consider, and never regrets, the price it willing pays for being so vulnerable. Such love sees only the need for such weakness and vulnerability and the blessed benefit of it. It is through such vulnerability that the Son of God willingly comes to meet mankind and save him. Such vulnerability for the sake of another is the perfection of love. Inasmuch as we have been united with Christ in baptism, Christ is with us in all circumstances and conditions of life. In all these conditions, the love of Christ sustains and upholds us so that we can in faith dare to love and live with the risks of being so vulnerable that others might be touched by the love of Christ-through us. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations,” Psalm 100:1-5.