Thursday, November 13, 2008

Delighting in Reality

This evening I made a delightful discovery, although discovery is not truly the correct or accurate term to be used. Rather, I became very powerfully aware of the reality of my own heart and what emotions and desires dwell within. An overwhelming realization of my deep and even unfathomable delight in people surfaced from the depths of my soul so that the acknowledgment of this joy was manifested gloriously undeniably.

Yes, I truly and inexorably delight in people. I delight in the playfulness of little children and in their nearly innocent expression of trust and joy. I delight in the blessings of marriage and family. I delight in sharing in the aspirations of those who dream of happy plans and brilliant successes. I delight in the working together in peace of those who are united in common hope.

This really is not a new awareness, nor a surprise. Yet it has been often overshadowed by dark forces. The fact that my heart and eyes and mind are open to see what others often prefer to ignore many times clouds my awareness of that in which I very deeply delight.

Yet even in the darkest times my soul is filled with thoughts of what God intends for humanity. From the rise of the sun to its setting, even unto my own bodily retirement and even in my sleeping, I bask in the light of the Gospel and ponder the proclamation of God’s grace, mercy, and peace in Christ Jesus.
So how does one proclaim such things to people who choose to pretend that the pure Gospel can be mingled with other doctrines? How does one look upon the people around him without feeling the terrible schisms in the body of Christ caused by the mingling of error and falsehood with that which cannot be mingled with such things? How does a preacher of the Gospel continue in hope and peace and joy when all around the churches are preaching and practicing as though the Gospel and the Sacraments can be compromised without being changed?

What remains for the preacher of the Gospel when such things are evident all around? What remains? The Gospel remains. For the Gospel cannot be compromised. Even as the devil could not change the Lord Jesus with his feeble temptations, neither can the Gospel be changed or muted. The Gospel truly is the power of God for salvation unto those who believe. The Gospel cannot be mingled with other doctrines. The Gospel remains pure, regardless of whatever faithless preachers and people say or do. When people mix other doctrines with the Gospel, they no longer have the Gospel, but rather the words of their own faithlessness. The Word of God does not change. It cannot be altered or adulterated. The Word of God is everlasting, even as He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity.

Therefore, even as Noah could work with joy in building the Ark, surrounded by unbelieving people, so also can those who hold fast to the Gospel for all their life today. The Gospel has not changed from the day it was announced to the serpent and to the woman and to Adam. The Gospel did not change for Noah, nor for Abraham, nor for Jacob, nor for Joseph, nor for Moses, nor for David, nor for Simon Peter, nor for Stephen, nor for St. Paul. No matter how many people have tried to redefine the Gospel, no matter how many times churches have failed to preach the Gospel faithfully, the Gospel never changes. Neither does the life that flows from the Gospel ever change. The Gospel and the Sacraments by which the Gospel is administered remain as they have been given. They still accomplish what God has promised to accomplish through them.

And so I do grieve to observe the abuses that are practiced in those groups claiming to be the Church. I do lament that there are many who are allowing the Gospel to be stolen away from them, and with the Gospel the true hope for life in God’s Holy Communion. Yet I do also delight in people. I delight in seeing God’s blessings in the world. Moreover, I delight in every opportunity to speak of this God of love and mercy who sent His Son to be sacrificed on behalf of all of the sinful and unbelieving world so that through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit that sinners would be declared to be saints and through the feast of the Holy Communion those regenerated children would be strengthened and preserved in the true faith unto life everlasting.

Thus, whenever I have the opportunity to share the Gospel with others, both in presenting it and in hearing it, all else loses importance for me. The time of the day and the climate and the worldly circumstances in which I live seem to fade into the distance. For in connection with the Gospel I am again free to delight in people. Such is the power of the Gospel.

This evening was truly an opportunity again for delighting in reality.

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