Deepest of Sorrows

I read a portion from Luther yesterday that still rings today. With regard to the Gospel appointed for last Sunday from John 16, he writes: “There are many kinds of sorrow on earth, but the deepest of all sorrows is when the heart loses Christ, and He is no longer seen, and there is no hope or comfort from Him.”

I expect that most Christians would nod in agreement. And why is this? Because by the power of the Holy Spirit for faith through the Gospel, they know things that the rest of the world doesn’t. They know that without Christ, there is no hope. They know that apart from Him, there is the extreme incapability for joy in the midst of this world’s terrors. They know that to separate from Him is to be starved of the nourishing forgiveness and grace that He desires to give in order that we would be His own and live under Him in joy.

When the heart loses this, there is emptiness.

Summer is coming. With that, there will be many opportunities set before each of us to take a break from being where Christ is given through Word and Sacrament for the strengthening of faith and the fruits of comforting hope. As always, I encourage you to remain faithful in worship attendance. Be where Christ is with His gifts. Don’t hide Him from yourself or your family. And if you know you will be away, do what you can to find an LCMS church and be present there for worship. Of course, if you need help with this, let me know. I’ll find a place for you to visit while you’re on vacation, at a tournament, or visiting relatives. It would be my pleasure to do this.

If There Were No Christians on Earth…

I came across a rather straight-shooting, and yet uplifting, bit of commentary from Martin Luther yesterday morning during my personal devotions. The text from the Bible that he was considering was from 2 Corinthians 6:10, which reads in part: “…as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” Here’s what Luther said about this:

“If there were no Christians on earth, no town or land would have peace, yes, in one single day the devil would ruin everything there is on earth. The fact that there is still corn growing in the fields, that men recover from their illnesses, that they have food, peace, and security, all this they owe to the Christians. Indeed, we are poor beggars, and yet we make many rich. In very truth, we possess nothing, and yet we have all things; and whatever kings, princes, citizens, and peasants have in this world, they have it, not because of their fair hair, but because of Christ and His Christians. To them is given the Gospel, Baptism, and the Sacrament to convert the people, to win souls from the devil, to snatch them out of hell and death, and take them to heaven; and again to strengthen, comfort, and uphold the poor and instruct and advise the afflicted consciences in their sore temptation; and again to teach all people in all occupations how to do their work as good Christians. This sort of work kings and emperors, the mighty and the rich, the learned and the wise cannot perform, nor could they pay for it with all their possessions. For there is not one amongst them who could comfort and cheer a single soul when it is burdened and weighed down by sin.” (W.A. 45. 532)

Great stuff, huh? Powerful, too. Luther reminds us that the effort of the Christian Church is never in vain as it works to bring the Gospel into a world in need.

That’s what we’re doing here at Our Savior. The Gospel is at the heart of our efforts. People are being converted, souls are being snatched away from Satan, death, and hell.

Your church is on the front lines of this effort, which means, as a Christian, you are, too. And as you read from Luther, without the Christians carrying this Gospel forth, there would be nothing left to remove the burden of sin from the shoulders of a world in need.

This is how the Lord has structured it. You are a part. Take heart and be courageous in your role by His Holy Spirit to speak the hope that is within you as each opportunity arises. And then direct folks to this church—your church—to enlist and engage in the effort to bring the thirst-quenching peace of Christ and His mercy to a parched and barren land.