Saturday, November 7, 2009

Under the Authority of the Word

Often I have people come to me with questions about things in Scripture or Christian life. They know the right answer but they are struggling. They have doubts and fears, worries and anxieties, questions and concerns. Sometimes whey will ask me about these things and wonder if these things might preclude their communing or being Lutheran.

I have found it helpful to make the distinction between those who reject the authority of the Word of the Lord and reject the answers of that Word outright and those who place themselves under the authority of the Word even with their questions or their struggles. It seems to me a rather strange idea that we will at any given time be perfectly in tune with God's Word, without doubt or struggle with what that Word says, understanding and accepting of everything in that Word. Faith is, after all, not your consent to the faith or truth propositions contained in God's Word but your trust in that Word (in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, who is the message of that Word written down).

Lord, I believe... Help thou my unbelief... Surely it is this that characterizes much of Christian life. We come to the Lord with trust and confidence in His goodness, in His grace, in what Jesus Christ has accomplished, and we also come with our doubts and fears, struggles to understand and accept all that His Word says. We come with both to lay both at the foot of the cross, under the authority of the Word (both Christ the Word made flesh and the written Word). We lay these before the Word accepting the authority of our Lord and of His grace even while we struggle to understand and accept all that is in it.

A child squeezes the hand of the parent as they walk into the darkness, still filled with fears and worries, and yet content to place them all in the strength of the parent's presence and grasp. For most of us and for most of the time, life is a journey into darkness. We do not know the future, we do not see objectively the present, but we walk there hand in hand with the Savior. In the grasp of His hand is both our trust and confidence in the sufficiency of His grace as well as the deposit of all our doubts and fears.

Here on earth we walk not by sight but by faith -- the faith that is trust and that trusts for what we do not know or understand, for what we have trouble accepting, in the loving grace of the God who comes to us always bidding us to fear not amid our real fears, knowing that He is with us, and His grace will not disappoint us... Something to think about...

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