Tuesday, August 18, 2015
This is hard. . .
Husbands have roaming eyes. Wives dream of picture perfect husbands. Children wish for better parents. Parents wish for better children. People look for better pastors. We all shop for happiness that comes like a dream in a box. Sin has given us longing eyes but not wise ones. We want what we do not have, what is easy, what meets our wants, what satisfies our desires. It is no different when it comes to matters of faith. We shop for religion the way we shop for everything else.
We fear the Lord’s way is too hard. We are not wrong. In the Gospel those closest to Jesus grumbled just the way we do. This is too hard! Who can accept it? Who can believe it? You want an easy faith with all the right answers. That is what I want too. But you will not find it here. Jesus gives us no easy faith with easy answers but the hard truth of sin and its death, of salvation purchased with blood. But where else can we do?
Faith is too hard. Of course it is. Any time we surrender control and will to God we run the risk of disappointment, of prayers not answered, and of sins that still have consequences. But faith has no other way than the hard path of trust, of repentance, of the mystery of water, bread, and wine, and of the promise of life not yet seen, held or touched.
Doctrine is too complicated. Of course it is. Not all churches offer the same Gospel. Most are manufactured hopes crafted by the words, wisdom, and dreams of men. Christ gives us truth. His truth is the Word made flesh, the Son of God who comes as the Son of Man, of righteousness given instead of earned, and of salvation purchased in suffering and death. The creed confesses this hard truth but does not explain it. We come as those informed by the Word confessing our faith in it.
Truth is too offensive. Of course it is. We want some generic truth that everyone can tailor for personal preference. We want a broad truth that is like an umbrella to cover all our mistaken ideas of God. Instead we get exclusive truth that is inclusive for all people, of all time, of all places. Every one of us wants an easier faith, an easier Savior, and easier church.
But where else can you go? The wisdom of man cannot purchase salvation or cleanse the guilty or tame the wandering desires within. Peter wanted to go somewhere else – anywhere else! But there was no place where sin was paid, where death was defeated, where sacramental food tasted of heaven’s eternity. Where else can we go? You alone have the words of eternal life. We sing with Peter – where else can we go?
You, Lord, alone have the bread to satisfy our hunger for ever. To feed us now and feed us eternity. To restore the fallen. To rescue the lost. To forgive the biggest sin. To give hope to our despair. To heal our wounds. To kill death and bestow the life that cannot die. Where else can we go?
As hard as it is, Jesus it the only God we can know, the cross is the only place where sins are forgive, and His salvation is the only hope to live beyond death. Once the Jews grumbled against Jesus, His own disciples were ready to bolt, and the crowds that had come to feed their bellies at Jesus’ expense were not sure they needed or wanted anything more than a quick meal. But where else can we go?
So come. Eat. Drink. What eating once cursed, this eating redeems. Here is the mystery none can explain. His flesh is real food; His blood is real drink. Here is grace bigger than your sins, life bigger than your death, hope bigger than your fear, promise that will not disappoint. Look carefully how you walk. Walk not as the unwise who reject the promise because it is hard on the mind or the will. Walk as the wise. Be not foolish but wise in faith. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One of God is insight.
It is hard but it offers us the only outcome and answer for our sin, our guilt, our despair, and our death. Lord, where else can we go. You alone have the words of eternal life. Jesus is the Holy One of God. Lord, give us faith that we may endure. Amen