Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lent 2

Become fellow-imitators of me, brothers, and watch those walking this way just as you have our type. For many walk, which many times I said to you, and now also crying I say, (as) the enemies of the cross of Christ, of whom the end–destruction, of whom the god–the belly, and the glory in their shame, the ones whose mind-set is on earth. For our commonwealth exists in heaven, out of which also a Savior we eagerly await–the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform our bodies of humility conformed to the body of His glory by the work of His power even to submit everything to Him. Therefore, my brothers, loved-by-God and longed for, my joy and victory-crown, so you stand in the Lord, loved by God.  

We are all headed for the very same goal in the end, for we know that our true and lasting home is with Jesus in heaven above. But as we eagerly await the return of our Savior to take us from this valley of tears and sorrow to be with Him in paradise, life here on earth can be difficult. Temptations abound as you walk this way and that in this world. You find enticements along many different sinful paths. So how do you stand firm against so many different, exciting yet dangerous sins at every turn?

The dilemma is a relatively simple one as St. Paul is inspired to spell it out for you. The problem is in the walking. Those who walk this path and that one are the enemies of the cross of Christ. You keep on walking where they lead you, and you’ll end up with nothing but destruction. Their god is their own belly, which means whatever feels like it satisfies them, that’s their goal. Drinking, promiscuity, drugs, gluttony, and the list goes on. The things of this earth which give temporary pleasure is their shame.

No, you might think that since the problem is walking in all the wrong places, that the solution would be for you to walk only in the right places. But you’d be dead wrong! While you remain of sinful flesh, this is impossible for you to accomplish. All your own righteousnesses are but filthy rags in God’s sight. So no, this problem of your law breaking cannot be solved by you striving at better law keeping.

Instead of walking, St. Paul is inspired to give you a different way altogether. You are to stand. Stand still. Stand firmly in the Lord Jesus. In Him you live, you move, and you have your being. So remain in Christ loved by God. Stop trying to walk your own way to heaven without the Lord, and simply stand on His promises. For Jesus walked the walk you never could. He walked the 1st and 2nd days, and on the 3rd day He reached His goal. Having died for you Good Friday, Jesus rose to life that 3rd day for you.

Your walk is in a humble, lowly, really in a humiliating body. For you walk thinking, “everybody fudges on their taxes, so why shouldn’t I?”, or “I could pass off that coupon that expired yesterday as though it is still good”, or “what does it matter if I cuss throughout the week, so long as I watch my tongue on Sunday morning”, or “they put all that ‘eye-candy’ on tv and in the movies so that people will watch, so I might as well ogle them”. But walking in this way is shameful as it leads to more dangerous sins.

Jesus’ walk was nothing like yours! He walked the walk of pure goodness, healing the sick, casting out demons from the possessed, curing the blind and deaf, and even raising the dead. He walked every day loving God His Father with His entire heart at all times, and loving His neighbor even more than He loved Himself. He walked the perfect walk you never are able to walk. He walked it straight to Jerusalem where the prophets were killed, to give His life as a ransom for you and for all people.

Yet there are some who think, “If only I can be more Christ-like, then I’ll make myself into a real Christian!” Hogwash! It is not when you first fix your walk that God loves you, but while you were yet sinners, that’s when Christ died for you. So throw out your WWJD bracelets, because where He went in His walk, you simply can’t go. Instead, if you are looking for an example to follow, look to St. Paul and the other Apostles of old, who realized that all they could do was to stand in the Lord Jesus.

For Jesus walked the walk of the Savior. He walked the only walk which could bless all people, which is why the people welcomed Him to Jerusalem with shouts of “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!” Jesus came filled with blessings in the Lord’s name. Those blessings He came to you, showering you with them at your baptism in the Lord’s name, where He gave you forgiveness of your sins, deliverance and rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation to you who believes.  

So you are left with nothing else to do than to take your stand in the Lord Jesus. You stand in His love as He feeds you His body and blood at His supper table. You stand, loved by God, awaiting His return.


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