In my devotional reading this morning, I came across the following, which is Luther speaking from the perspective of Jesus regarding John 15:16:
“It is not given to you to destroy sin; that is for you too lofty a thing, and it belongs to My calling alone. But you should bear fruit, first, that God thereby be honored and praised, and that you may show your obedience; therefore to the good and betterment of your neighbor, so that it can be seen that you truly believe in Christ and belong to Him.”
Two phrases in particular stood out for me in this paragraph. They were: “It is not given to you to destroy sin…” and “…so that it can be seen that you truly believe in Christ and belong to Him.”
The first one hit home because it brought to mind the fact that for many Christians, they believe that their faith means policing the world and everyone in it—that as Christians, we must be out and about like super-spiritual vigilantes crushing all those who would oppose Christ and His Church. And while there are times when we must do all that we can to impair or crush the sinful world’s efforts—some of those things being precisely what we as a congregation are doing as we interface with the Kingdom of the Left on issues of Abortion, Marriage, and Religious Liberty—it’s impossible for sinners to actually do all that would be necessary for winning the war being fought against the devil, the world, and the sinful flesh. Only Christ can do that.
With that, the second phrase gathers some momentum. It reminds us that Christ does indeed call for us to step up, to be steady and faithful in the combat—to show forth the fruits of faith so that the world will be able to see who we are and to whom we are obedient. As I mentioned before, sometimes that obedience means marching off and into the war to crush enemy strongholds in sin, but more often than not, it may not be that exciting. It could just mean being who you are as a Christian right where God has placed you—as a mother, a father, a student, a teacher, a business owner, a grandparent, a giver, a helper, a speaker, and so many other things. Believe it or not, it’s right there that your witness is often most potent. It’s in these daily regimens of faithfulness that so many challenges are met head on and the devil is frustrated. He hates diligently faithful Christians. He hates Christians who, as it has been said, “believe loudly.” This means not only those who are willing to stand up and speak for truth, but those who live it each and every day right where they live, breathe, and have their daily being.
I suppose that’s my encouragement to you today—to know that this congregation, as she exists in her mission to seek and save the lost, is not one requiring that all involved in the efforts be all-stars. Many of you have heard me say the following before: We don’t need all-stars, but rather we need people who know the fundamentals and come to play hard. The “playing hard” means not only knowing what you believe and why you believe it, but simply showing forth the fruits in a way for the world to see and know that you have a Lord, His name is Jesus, you trust Him, and you’d give up your life before ever forsaking Him.
That itself is a powerful witness that can and will happen no matter where you are, and in my experiences in places where the heat has been turned up, the Christians emitting such substance were the ones the opposing forces knew wouldn’t roll over in the face of challenge. And those same Christians served as beacons that led others to Christ’s hopeful deliverance in the face of a world that’s coming undone.
That’s a picture of the kind of people who comprise the ranks of Our Savior in Hartland, Michigan. I say that unreservedly, and with that, I am so incredibly proud… and blessed… to serve here.