09 June 2019

Speaking Peace and Love by the Spirit of Christ Jesus

If anyone loves the Lord Jesus, he (or she) will keep and cherish His Word.

Do you love Christ Jesus?  Know that His Word speaks Love to you.  And Peace.  And comfort.  And the forgiveness of all your sins.  It is by and with the preaching of His Word that He draws near to you, and God the Father draws near to you in Him.  And it is through His Word that He pours out His Spirit upon you.  So does the Holy Triune God come and make His abode with you.

Keep and cherish His Word, therefore.  Be gathered together in the House where His disciples are, in the City of God, established on His holy Mountain.  Listen to what He says, and remember what He has spoken to you.  Call upon His Name.  Pray, confess, and sing His Word.  And speak peace to one another, in love for one another, counting your brothers and sisters in Christ better than yourself.  Speak forgiveness to those who sin against you, as your Father in heaven forgives you all your sins for Jesus’ sake.  Comfort those who are troubled in heart, mind, body, soul, or spirit.

Speak the Gospel.  Speak Christ Jesus.  That is the language of the one true God, which sanctifies all the tongues of men, Hebrew and Greek, Latin and German, French and Italian and Spanish, English and Swahili, Russian and Chinese.  All the languages of earth are sanctified by the Word of the Gospel, by the Word of Christ, as it is spoken and confessed, prayed and sung in all of those languages under heaven.  That is the universal language of the Holy Triune God, with which He establishes His City here on earth, as it is in heaven, to the Glory of His holy Name.  For so does He save sinners by His grace, and so does He call men and women, young and old, slave and free, Jews and Gentiles from all around the globe, into His one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.

That Word of Christ, that Word of the Gospel, that is the Word that breathes and bestows the Spirit of God and gives life to you and all people, indeed, to all of creation, and makes all things new.

It is not your native tongue or the language of your heart to begin with.  It is a divine language that is taught by the Spirit through the preaching of Christ.  It is the language of your new Father, who has spoken to you by His Son, and who has granted you His Spirit through the adoption of sons.

But you have known a different language before this, the tongue that is native to all men because all men sin, a common way of speaking which knows no borders or boundaries.  You have known the language of selfish pride, of covetous lust, of towering ego, of envy and jealousy, of gossip and greed — the language and law of the jungle, which teaches you to look out for yourself above all.

That is the language that all people share in common by their inheritance from Adam.  And yet, it separates and scatters them.  It sets them at odds with each other.  It is the kill-or-be-killed language of the city of man, with which you strive to name yourself.  With it you contend and compete.  You speak with cunning self-interest.  Nothing bridles your tongue or stays your hand.

There is no genuine or real love in that language of man, but only selfishness and self-interest.  There is no peace, but constant war and strife.  There is no comfort, but endless grief and torment.  There is no forgiveness of sins, but debts that can’t be paid, grudges that are never let go, bitter resentments, angry and hurtful revenge.  Thus are you poisoned by your own venomous tongue.

You know how the words of others can sting and hurt you, but you do not take to heart that your words likewise sting and hurt your neighbor (and then rebound in consequences upon yourself).  You know how powerful ways of speaking are — whether to calm things down or stir things up — and you still speak in ways that tear the house down, that tear your brother or sister down.

When the whole world speaks that language of man, then all efforts fail, towers crumble, and cities fall; nations are divided, and families are scattered.  There is no house or home that provides any lasting safety.  There is no dwelling place of peace, but persistent anxiety and amorphous fears.

But now the Lord has come down to see this travesty which the sons of men have spoken and have made for themselves.  He punishes their sin with their own sin.  He scatters them to the four winds, dividing them by their own common language of selfish pride.

He does so in mercy — that is what moves Him — that He might gather all the sons and daughters of man to Himself by His own divine language of the Gospel.  In all the tongues of all the nations, He speaks the one Word of His Son; and through that Word He breathes the Spirit who gives life.

Consider, then, how near that Word of the Lord is to you — it is in your ears even now — and in your heart — and in your mouth, as well, to confess and pray and sing, and even to eat and drink.

For this Word that God the Father speaks — His own dearly-beloved Son from all eternity — has become Flesh and dwells here with you.  So does the Lord your God abide with you, sharing in your flesh and blood.  More than that, He has also taken your sin and death upon Himself, into His Body.  He has borne the whole curse of the Law for you.  He has suffered the righteous wrath and judgment of God, and the assaults and accusations of men, their cruel mockery and bitter conceit.

But in the midst of all that He has borne and suffered in your place, He has not blasphemed or cursed God.  He has not reviled in return, nor has He shouted in anger.  Nor has He grown surly and silent.  Neither has He spit venomous ire at His enemies.  But in prayer and confession, He has remained faithful.  He has spoken the Word of His Father and called upon the Name of the Lord.

And to you He speaks forgiveness and peace, such as this world does not know and cannot give.  The Lord Jesus comforts you in His compassion for you.  He loves you with His language of the Gospel, and He has mercy on His lips.  That is what proceeds from His mouth into your ears.

That is the language of love which you learn from your new Father in Christ Jesus, His beloved Son, who is your own Brother in the Flesh and in the Spirit.  For this language is spoken to you in bodily form, but it is alive and life-giving with the Holy Spirit.

The Word of Holy Absolution, that is, the forgiveness of your sins — like the water and the Word of Holy Baptism and the Word-made-Flesh in the Holy Communion — that Word breathes the Spirit of God into your very body, into your flesh, into your blood, into your heart, mind, and soul.  That Word of God breathes the Spirit into you, so that you are filled with the very Life and Light and Love of God.  Thus do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come to make Their abode with you.

This is the true divine Peace of which Christ Jesus speaks, which He grants to you by His speaking.  It is reconciliation with God through the free and full forgiveness of all of your sins.  He sets you free from your sin and death, and He grants you that Peace of harmony and unity in the love of God Himself; for not only does God make His abode with you, but He grants you to abide with Him.

Not only does Christ come near to you, and not only does He bring you into the presence of His God and Father in heaven, but more than that, in His own Body — and with His own Holy Spirit breathed into your body through the Gospel — He shares with you the Life of the Holy Trinity.

So then, speak that same language of divine love to your neighbors in the world.  Forgive those who trespass against you.  Say it out loud: “I forgive you.”  And ask forgiveness for your sins.

Serve your neighbor with your hands and with your feet.  Run to him, run to her, and stretch forth your hands in love.  But in all of that, do not fail to speak.  Say, “I love you.”  Say, “I care.”  Speak forgiveness, and so be reconciled and at peace with those who have been at odds with you, whether you have hurt them or they’re just being difficult.  Be reconciled with them.  Take the first step, and speak the first word.  And let your word be a word of love, such as Christ Jesus speaks to you.

As He comes to you in meekness and gentle kindness and loving compassion for you, so speak with gentle kindness and tender compassion for your neighbors.  Speak peace to them, as Christ Jesus speaks peace to you.  And you fathers and you mothers, in particular, teach your children to speak in this way, to confess and to pray the Word of the Lord, and to rejoice, give thanks, and sing to the praise and glory of God.  For so does God the Father speak to you by His Son, and so does He give the Holy Spirit into your ears, into your heart and life, and upon your lips and tongue.

So it is that, with that Word of Christ, which is the language of God, you bestow the Holy Spirit upon your neighbors in peace.  For the Words of Christ that you speak are Spirit, Truth, and Life, and they convey the grace of God.  Therefore, do not ever suppose that you have nothing with which to serve your neighbor, even if your hands and your pockets and your cupboards are bare.  When you speak of Christ Jesus, you bestow the Holy Spirit on your neighbor.  You build a house and a city of love with such Words.  You raise the tower of the Cross of Christ, by which all men are drawn to Him.  You confess the Name of the Lord, by which you and your neighbor are saved.

For not only does the Holy Triune God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, draw near to you by the speaking of the Word of Christ.  But as the Holy Spirit lays Christ upon your hearth through the Gospel, and as Christ Jesus breathes His Spirit into your body and soul, so does the same Lord Jesus Christ bring you in and with Himself to the Father in heaven, to the very bosom of the Father.

It isn’t a matter of traveling some great distance by planes, trains, or automobiles.  It isn’t a matter of geography, or aeronautics, or space travel.  It is, rather, the true Spiritual Life in communion with God, which is given to you in the Word and in the Flesh of the incarnate Son, Christ Jesus.

As you abide in Him and His Spirit abides in you, so do you abide in and with the Father, hidden with Christ in God.  That is where your life is: Safely and securely hidden with Christ in God, seated with Him in the heavenly places, even while you sojourn here on earth under His Cross.

It is for that life with God the Father, for the sake of His own divine love and mercy, that Christ Jesus keeps on speaking Peace to you, forgiving you all of your sins and granting you His Spirit.

Do not be afraid.  For these Words in your ears are not my own, but those of Him who sent me.  As He has given Himself for you on the Cross, and as He has been raised for your justification, so does He give Himself to you here, together with His Spirit and with all His gifts and benefits.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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