Monday, August 10, 2009

Be Nice to Me

Today the lady at the blood donation center put this little sticker on my shirt, saying that now people would have to be nice to me. She said, just point to the sticker, it says so.

This sounds silly to hear. The sticker obviously does not have the power to make people obey the command that is written upon it.

Yet people treat the Law of God in this way, imagining that by quoting the Commandments that people’s lives will be changed. Preachers hold the statements of what God says should be and imagine that doing so will change people’s hearts and minds.

But the power for salvation, the power that regenerates the heart and mind is the Gospel. The power for a new life is the power of God, the Word made flesh, who perfectly obeyed the will of the Father and lived without yielding to the power of sin. He defeated sin. He defeated all the powers of wickedness and disobedience. He overpowered all that works against us. He did so not with commandments, but with love. He is love, and He gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin so that sin would be destroyed by His sacrifice.

Preachers imagine that it is their job to teach people how to live. But this is a false understanding of the preaching office. Preachers are ordained to preach the one who is life. It is in receiving Him through the ordained means that life is restored to people dead in their sins. The life that is lost on account of sin can be restored only through the one who takes the sin of the world. Jesus takes our sin and gives to us in its place His life of holiness. He imparts to us the forgiveness that He purchased with His suffering and death. He raises us up to the new life that He guaranteed by rising from the dead. He rules our hearts by the Gospel and the Sacraments that He entrusted to His Church on earth and by the Holy Spirit who is poured out to us in Baptism. He keeps us united in His body and in His forgiveness and new life through the Holy Communion. Living each day in the knowledge of this that we receive by faith is what preachers are ordained to teach and proclaim.

This, then, is truly teaching people how to live, by grace, through faith. This is what is taught from the cross where God is nice to us, saying, for you I gave blood today. And He continues to give His blood for us in the supper of forgiveness and life so that we may truly learn how to live.

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