Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent I Romans 13:8-14 How Do We Behave as we await the Lord's Return?

To no one, nothing do you owe, if not the love of others. For the one who loves the other (with God's love) fulfills Law. For this: "Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet," and if a certain other commandment, in this saying it is summarized, "You will love (with God's love) your neighbor as yourself." God's love to the neighbor does not work evil; God's love, then, fulfills Law. And this, knowing the season, that the hour already (for) you from sleep to awaken; for now nearer is our salvation than when we believed! The night is far gone, and the day is near. Let us remove (as filth), then, the works of the darkness, and be clothed in the armor of the light! As in daytime let us walk decently, not in excessive feasting and in drunkenness, not in sexuality and in debauchery, not in quarreling and in jealousy. But be clothed in the Lord Jesus Christ and in foresight you do not proceed into desires of the flesh.

Each year as the season of Advent rolls around, it gets almost forgotten amid all our holiday preparations. Some of us fall into the trap of thinking that it is already the Christmas season. It isn't. It's Advent. It's a time for some rather serious reflection on the Advent of Jesus. Not the first one that happened as He came to Jerusalem. It's the Advent we now await, Jesus' return on the last day as Judge of all people, both the living and the dead. He's coming back soon, and we should be ready!

The Advent season is a "wake up call" for us. It's a time for us to pause from our holiday planning and look instead at God and what He's doing! The night has already come. Satan and the minions of darkness are working overtime to tempt you because he knows that his time is short. The Day of Jesus' return is imminent! He's coming as your Judge. He may be coming sooner than you think. And He's coming back to judge you based on the criteria of your *works*, whether they are good or evil!

"Say what?! I thought we Lutherans were the church of grace & mercy, love and forgiveness? Are you saying that God cares about what we do?" You better believe it! God expects you to be rid of all the filthy works of sinning, and for you to walk in such a way that loves your neighbor just as God's Own love does. "Wow! That's a tall order." Indeed it is. Your works are not to do evil, but they are to fulfill God's law perfectly. But who among us can claim to keep all of God's commandments without fail?

Truth be told, you have failed miserably in this regard. Some have brought about strife by dwelling on problems, and offering their own ideas as solutions as though they are the gods of the universe. Others have acted out of envy, desiring to do things that God has given as tasks for others. Still others of us over-indulge in any manner of activities in ways that cross the lines of decency. Not one of us can claim to have always walked in the light of day as God bids us to do.

So what is the answer to our dilemma? Well you need to have the filth of your sin removed from you-- those works of darkness forgiven. You can't do this to yourself. God does it for you in your baptism. And He makes that baptism your daily bath to cleans you from sin's filth when, by daily contrition and repentance, your Old Adam drowns and dies with all your sins and evil lusts. God offers absolute forgiveness for you in that same Name in which you were baptized when you come to Confession.

Then God clothes you with the protective armor of Jesus! You now wear Christ's Own holy righteousness, which is credited to your account by faith. You are holy in God's sight, but not because you've acted that way, because you haven't. His strong Word, Christ Jesus, bespeaks you righteous with His Own holiness! The righteous works of Jesus are now your very own good works. And He is the One Who will come back soon to judge you based on your righteousness.

That being said, it is a very good thing that Jesus' holy righteousness is not a dormant thing. It clothes you outwardly so that it can actively shine brightly to love others. Not your love. For it is God's Own agape love with which you are called to love your neighbor! Although you have not loved others with your own brotherly-love as you should have, God finds a way to succeed where you have failed. For it is Jesus Himself who loves your neighbor through you with His Own perfect agape love!

That's why those who foolishly address Jesus at His return with "Lord, Lord, look what we did for you!" will be harshly rebuffed for thinking it was their own works which make them righteous. You know better. You are blessed with Christ's righteousness as a garment-gift so that He can shine through you upon others with good works about which you may not even be aware!.

For Jesus alone is able to fulfill the Law with His agape love. He did that for you as a perfect sacrifice at the cross, when He gave up His body for you unto death, and shed His blood for your redemption at Calvary. From there He has made you His Own workmanship, a new creation in Christ Jesus, given to walk in Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Light. His righteousness blessing you unto your salvation, and continuing to bless others through you that your neighbor too may be saved! Amen.

Hymns today from LSB:
#331 The Advent of Our King
#341 Lift Up Your Heads You Mighty Gates
#332 Savior of the Nations Come
#350 Come Thou Precious Ransom Come

No comments: