Friday, September 1, 2023

The only one who lives in the moment. . .

While it may truly seem that culture and society as well as the individual and self-expression are the ones who own the day, the truth is that they can never be comfortable in the present.  They are too busy trying to make up for the sins of the past and to envision a future without those sins.  In that sense, the modern world is entirely imprisoned in their fear and loathing over what was wrong about yesterday and what must be done to build a better tomorrow.  The Christian is the only one who is truly free to live in the present for the Christian knows that the sins of the past are no more -- washed away by the blood of Christ -- and the future is not ours to worry about because it rests in God's hands -- not fatalism or a lack of concern but the confidence of trust.

Our mission is not to cleanse the past from all its faults nor is our mission to build a better tomorrow.  Our mission is also not to save a dying world.  Unless I am mistaken, Jesus has already done that.  Ours is to rejoice as a people whose shadowed past has been brought out into the light of Christ and banished from the memory of God and from its power over us through forgiveness.  Ours is to trust that the same God who has so marvelously absolved us of our sin will bring all things into being as He has ordered them.  It because of this we are the only ones who are truly free.  The past cannot define us and the future cannot hold us captive to fear and anxiety.  We belong to the Lord.  It is quite that simple.  We belong to the Lord.  Whether we live or die.  If God be for us, what is left to stand against us?  We are free.  Oh, to be sure, that freedom is not some magical state or some euphoric triumph over our mortality for which we can claim credit and therefore use as we desire.  No, we belong to the Lord.  Our freedom is exercised in its highest and more pure form by the Spirit leading us to live in surrender to God's purpose and will.  Not as something we are resigned to but rather as a people convinced this is and has always been the only thing that matters.

It the Church appears to shrink, we cannot turn it around.  If the world becomes ever more evil, it is not up to us to fight back.  If we lack a political voice or presence, we are not called to stuff the ballot boxes.  If we lack influence or the marks of earthly power, it is not up to us to become a people to whom the world pays attention.  Love God above all things.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  It is not so hard.  We must not shrink from faithful truth and witness but neither should we presume that the outcome will be to fix what this broken world has come to call success.  Be faithful where you are.  Live in the moment as the only people free from the condemnation of our past or the fear of our future.  Live without fear for those who can kill the body.  Live with confidence that He who spared not His own Son will bring all things to us that He has promised.

It is a sham and an illusion.  Those who search in themselves for the true me or who battle the body for their true identity are not free.  They are help captive by the worst prison of all -- the prison of self.  Those who find no virtue greater than amusement and entertainment are not free.  They have been bound by the cruelest taskmaster of all and one that can never fully or finally be satisfied.  Those who must save the world or build a better tomorrow are a people in chains to rectify the errors of the past and under the burden of a tomorrow which will fail unless they put the fix in today.  Do not envy them but pity them.  Heaven has a higher goal.  Every sinner who repents.  Let that be enough.  To love God above all things and to love your neighbor as yourself.  We pray the Lord to give us today tomorrow's bread and He has done just that -- the foretaste of the eternal feast is already here in the now of God's House, Day, and Table.  This is the faith that we know and live and what brings us weekly to gather around the Word and Table of the Lord.  This is the liberty that gives rest to the soul.  Because we will not be bound by death, we are already free from its sting.  Because we cannot be bound by sins Christ's blood has washed away, we are already free from its guilt and shame.  We are free.  Now is our concern not because if we fail it will be lost but because God has an answer for failure and it is forgiveness and restores the unworthy by His grace to rest their soul in sleep whether they wake or not and to awaken the next day to do again what we tried to do yesterday -- love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself.  Living in the moment turns out not to be some devil may care attitude nor a sad resignation to the evils we deplore.  It is just the opposite.  It means living the Gospel that has set us free today knowing that the yesterday Christ has forgiven has no more claim on us and the tomorrow He has promised will come not because of what we do or do not do but only because of what He did.


gamarquart said...

Thank you, Rev. Peters. Thanks for the Gospel's joyful sound, and also for reminding us of how we should live under it's joyful calling.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Janis Williams said...

This should be read weekly by every Cristian, to remind us of the Truth! We are to remember our Baptism daily, and pray and repent many times in the day. However, in our society, with the news media, talking heads, and yes, many pastors of many churches, this reminder of who we are is so very helpful. Thank you, Fr. Peters for wise words.