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Matthew

10:34-42

  

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

 

"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."

(ESV)

 

We Have Become One

The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession

25 June 2015

A Nigerian friend of mine who lived in Houston, Pastor Charles Wokoma, seemed to be related to half the people in Nigeria. Although he now lives back in Nigeria, when a Nigerian came to Houston, he went to the airport to pick up his "cousin." He went to the airport so often that he must have had thousands of cousins. Blood ties are extremely important to him, as they are to most people. "Blood is thicker than water." Earthly relations seem to overcome many other relations, that is, we prefer our own kin to anyone else. That's hardly surprising. It is a "dog bites man" story.

 

In a case where we prefer those who are not related to us over those who are, then we have a "man bites dog" story. This is unusual in human affairs. But this is exactly what happens in the life of the church, in which those who share in the name Christian are as closely tied together as humans can be. Christ Himself is the connection. He ties together with His blood those who are in the church, and therefore have been cleansed by that precious blood. At the altar we partake of the blood of Christ together so that we cannot be anymore more closely united. I certainly feel closely connected to the community of Christians that I am privileged to serve as a pastor. In many ways, though I love my blood relations, the people of my parish are my family. God often overturns our human expectations in which we would exhibit a preference for those of our earthly family.

 

John Chrysostom is right to point out that in the last analysis we are all relatives through the line of Adam. I baptized an infant named Eve Noelle some years ago. When I asked if she were named for anyone in her family her father indicated that she was not. In response I said that she bears the name of the mother of us all and that upon being baptized she was placed into a better relationship with our heavenly Father than her primeval namesake, because she was placed into the life and death of the promised Seed, Christ our Lord. And that changes everything. She gained lots of relatives that way. She is now a sister of Christ Himself and all the rest of the people in His blood-bought community.

 

One of the joys of serving a vibrant urban church is the remarkable diversity of church members our church serves. Africans, East Indians, Asians, Americans, Hispanics, and even a Canadian (a pastor) all serve and work together in one community under one Christ, through one baptism. When I suggested to Tanzanian members of our church that we could start a Bible study group for them, they chided me saying, "We are members of Memorial Lutheran Church. We will come to the events held for the members of Memorial Lutheran Church." This was music to my ears. They understood very well that our status as Christian folk supersedes any other issue of human ancestry. In Christ we have all become one (Gal 3:28).

 

John Chrysostom

 

"Let us imitate the Apostle Paul, and glorify God in all things, by a vigilant way of life, and let us not feel confidence in the virtues of our ancestry, knowing the example that has been made of the Jews. For this is certainly not the relationship of Christians, because theirs is the kinsmanship of the Spirit. So the Scythian becomes Abraham's son and his son becomes more of an alien to him than the Scythian. Let us not then feel confidence in the doings of our fathers. If you have a parent who is a great Christian, do not imagine that this will be enough to save you, or get you honor and glory, unless you share that Christian character with your parent.

 

"So too if you have a bad parent, do not think that you will be condemned or put to shame because of this. For what can be less honorable than the Gentiles? Yet, by faith they became related to the saints. Or who were more nearly connected to God than the Jews? Yet by unbelief they were made aliens. For that relationship is of nature and necessity, in which way we are all relatives. For from Adam we all sprang, and none can be more a relation than another, both as regards Adam and Noah, and as regards the earth, the common mother of all. But the relationship worthy of honor is that which distinguishes us from the wicked. For it is not possible for all to be relations in this way, but those of the same character only. We do not call those brothers if they perform the same labor with us, but those who display the same zeal. In this way Christ gives men the name of children of God, and so on the other hand children of the devil, and so too children of disobedience, of hell, and of perdition likewise. So Timothy was Paul's son and was called 'my true child' by goodness (1Ti 1:2), but we do not know even the name of Paul's nephew (Acts 23:16). He was related to him by nature, and still that did not matter. Timothy was by nature and country unrelated to Paul since he was a native of Lystra (Acts 16:1-2), and yet he became most nearly related. Let us then also become the sons of the saints, or rather let us become even God's sons."


John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans19
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, bind all hearts together through the blood of the covenant. Keep us united in the truth which you have granted to the church through Your Word. Amen.

 

For the District Convention of the Pacific Southwest District of the LCMS, which is meeting today and tomorrow, that the Lord's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven

 

For John Meyer, that the Lord of the church would strengthen and build him up in his holy faith

 

For the gift of rain in California, that falling to water the earth we might receive bread for the eater and seed for the sower

Art: D ?rer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)  

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