Our Place With God
Tuesday of Pentecost 5
11 July 2017
There is a hierarchy of being in the world. What is it based on? In Darwinism the hierarchy of being is one based on power. For those who are able to enforce their will upon others in the "survival of the fittest," have a claim to a higher rung on the ladder of being. This theory, called social Darwinism was greatly discredited by its being put into ruthless effect by the Nazi Party of mid-twentieth-century Germany. Those who were susceptible to liquidation were simply presumed to be inferior beings, much farther down the hierarchy of being than their oppressors. However, this demonic theory has not quietly faded away, but rather has had something of a revival in more recent times. For example, the application of power for social purposes has a naked use in the "right" to abortion, in which the powerful liquidate the powerless, by evacuating those weak persons from the womb. Weak persons are assumed not to be persons at all and thus are under the absolute control of the powerful. So if you wonder how the Germans tolerated the Nazis and their Darwinistic liquidation of the weak, maybe you have a clue when you are confronted by our toleration of the genocide of abortion.
 
In Christianity God establishes a hierarchy of being through His gracious creating of all things in such a way that the created beings are more or less like Him. The hierarchy of being begins with the simple confession that the earth is the Lord's and all that is in it (Ps 24:1). Because all created things are God's they must be used and conserved as gifts from Him. The world is a huge workshop in which we care for the creation of God. We are not free to use the world in a way that does not comport with its original purpose for, and God's meaning for, the world. At bottom, everything is His.
 
Those who are more like God, that is, humans, have a responsibility to care for those creatures, which are less like God, such as plants and animals. The difference between humans and animals can be summarized by the fact that animals do not have souls and humans do. Our creation was different from all other creatures by reason of its intimacy with the Creator (Gn 1:26-31). Life came directly from Him. We are the foremost created beings, even more dear to Him than angels, who although they are immortal, are God's servants for our sakes. They serve us.
 
Despite having been made by God to be the foremost of His creatures, Adam and Eve fell into sin, by setting the contemplation of their souls upon the things of this world, seeking in created things what could only be theirs through the Creator. Sullied by worship of the creation rather than the Creator, they became subject to death, both temporal and eternal. From this they were rescued by the promise of the Seed, who would take their flesh of Mary and cleanse it, fully restoring that broken relationship between God and man in His own person, who is both God and Man by reason of that incarnation. The soul, once focused upon the things of this world, Christ raised to the proper contemplation of that for which it was created. Christ completely restores us to our proper place in the hierarchy of being, now both most like God, because God has become most like us, and also immortal again, through the conferral of immortality in Christ. Only God restores our place with Him.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"The nearer one is to God the more like Him he is. There is no greater distance from God than unlikeness to Him. The soul of man is unlike that incorporeal and unchangeable and eternal essence, in proportion as it craves things temporal and changeable. Because the things beneath, which are mortal and impure, cannot have contact with the immortal purity which is above, a mediator is indeed needed to remove this difficulty. However, not a mediator who resembles the highest order of being by possessing an immortal body, and the lowest by having a diseased soul [as the evil angels], which makes him rather grudge that we be healed than help our cure.
 
"We need a Mediator who, being united to us here below by the mortality of His body, should at the same time be able to afford us truly divine help in cleansing and liberating us by means of the immortal righteousness of His spirit, by which He remained heavenly even while here upon earth. Far be it from the incontaminable God to fear pollution from the humanity He assumed, or from the men among whom He lived in the form of man. For, even if His incarnation showed us nothing else, these two wholesome facts were enough, that true divinity cannot be polluted by flesh, and that demons are not to be considered better than ourselves because they do not have flesh. This, then, as Scripture says, is the "Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus" (1Ti 2:5), of whose divinity, by which He is equal to the Father, and humanity, by which He has become like us, this is not the place to speak as fully as I could."

Augustine, The City of God, 9.18
Hebrews 9:11-24

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent ( not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
 
Therefore he is the mediator of a new testament, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first testament. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first testament was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the testament that God commanded for you." And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
 
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 
Prayer
Lord God, You graciously created all things. Help us to respect what You have made by using it in the ways that You have intended. Continue to give us grace in Christ that we might focus upon that for which we have been created, and so honor and worship You. Through the power of Christ's mediation lift us to our proper place with You in the fellowship reestablished by His suffering, death, and resurrection. Amen.
 
For Susan Bomar, that the Lord would watch over her and give strength to those who serve her needs
 
For President Trump, that he might be supported in his office by God's care for him
 
For all those suffering from slavery to drugs or alcohol, that God the Lord would send them the help they need
Art: Albrecht DURER,  The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2017