24 April 2014

Repentance and Faith in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ Jesus

How you feel about Jesus may be up for grabs from time to time, but there is no doubt or question about His love for you.  He has but one desire for you and all His sheep, that you have life with Him, both now and forevermore.  To that end, He has suffered and died for you, and risen again, and, even to the close of the age, He preaches repentance for the forgiveness of all your sins.

His love for you is clear and consistent and certain.  Your love for Him, not so much; not always.  Your good intentions do not always translate into faithful loving words and actions.  When push comes to shove and you are put to the test, you sometimes deny and disown the Lord who loves you; sometimes actively, by what you do and say, and sometimes passively, by what you don’t.  Instead of taking up the Cross to follow Him, you sometimes run away and try to hide.

But now has Christ arisen, and it is high time for you to repent.

Do not get defensive or defiant, but recognize where you have done wrong, where you have fallen short and failed.  Confess your sins, believe the Gospel, and, living by such faith, do better.  Become altogether other than you have been.

Are you grieved by your sins?  It is right that you should be.  But do not simply weep and gnash your teeth about it.  Go and sin no more.  Stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again.  Stop trying to pick and choose your own way, your own life.

It is not for you to decide and determine the way in which you will serve and glorify God.  Your self-chosen pursuits and bold promises are likely to crash and burn, anyway.  But, whatever may become of you and your efforts, you are not actually your own man or woman; you are the Lord’s.

Do what you are given to do, and follow Jesus in your God-given calling and place in life.  Confess His Cross and Resurrection by your words and deeds, and care for your neighbor as you are able.

Do so for Jesus’ sake, and for your neighbor’s sake, and not as though your life and your salvation depended on it.  Worry and anxiety stem from the false assumption that your life is in your own hands, and from the lie that your righteousness and holiness are achieved by your own works.

But that is not how it is.

Your life is in the hands of Christ, who is your Righteousness and Holiness by His divine grace.  Whether you live or die, you are the Lord’s, who lived and died for you, and rose again for you.  What He calls you to do for others, He has already done for you, and He continues to do for you.  And it is Christ Jesus Himself who is at work in your vocations to serve your neighbors, as well.

I know that it can sometimes feel as though everything were out of control and falling apart.  But it’s not.  Not really.  If it is taken out of your hands, that is for the best, but it is not outside the scope of Christ and His Cross.

Life and death and everything in between have already been fulfilled and worked out in His Cross, and beautifully resolved for life everlasting in His Resurrection from the dead.  That’s where you are, too, even now, and forever and ever, by your Baptism into Him, by faith in your Baptism.

The One who calls you to repentance is the One who loves you.  He calls you through His death into His Resurrection and His Life.  He does call you to feed His sheep entrusted to your care within your own proper office and station, but He is no less determined to feed you, Himself, by His own ways and means of grace, and by the shepherds whom He gives to you in His Name.

Indeed, He governs and directs all things in heaven and on earth for the sake of serving His Church, His flock, His lambs and sheep.  And so He does for you.  If you have fallen, wherever and however it is that you have failed, rest assured that He has risen for you.  And in His rising from the dead, you also are raised up to live in Him.

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

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