Thursday, February 17, 2011

THE Born Loser

Many times I begin to feel like a loser. Sometimes I even imagine myself to be the born loser, as though I were the worst off of anyone.

Yesterday, as I finally made it out to do some work that actually counts as work, after allowing various interruptions to alter my day’s schedule, I was feeling down on myself. I was thinking what a loser I am so often to be giving of myself, taking time for others, scrambling to shift funds to pay creditors, doing work that makes men half my age quit. My thoughts ran to the comic strip, The Born Loser. I was equating myself with that mentality.

Before long that line of thinking was overthrown by the realization that I have no business thinking of myself that way. After all, there is one who truly qualifies as THE Born Loser. We celebrate His birth at a season we call Christmas. He truly is THE Born Loser. He was born into the world for that very purpose. He was born to lose everything.

He was born of a virgin at a time when unwed motherhood was way beyond unacceptable. His adopted father was a poor carpenter. He grew to be a man and had no possessions except a little house in Capernaum. He sojourned from village to village, preaching the Gospel and healing the sick and driving out demons, all at no charge. He was ridiculed and demeaned throughout His ministry. Finally He was condemned for everything that He was and did and claimed to be. He was tortured and killed by a horrible and inhuman method. He was hung up naked on a cross for everyone to gawk at Him. He was spit upon. He was mocked. Finally he was buried.

He lost everything. He did so willingly. He did so for the sake of those who were born losers according to their inheritance. He did so in order to take their place as losers and give to them the riches that were His from eternity.

On His account St. Paul writes: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

This the apostle writes in response to all of the things that would make us imagine ourselves to be losers. “In all these things,” we are more than conquerors.

MORE than conquerors? Yes! For the victory has already been won. All of the things that would bring us down, all of the things that would work against us, they have all been defeated. Christ suffered them all and rose again, ascending to heavenly glory, where these things do not even exist. He rose from the dead in order to guarantee that our lives would not be lost. He not only paid the price to release us from the punishment that we deserve, but He also rose again in His body to guarantee that death would not be our end. Our greatest enemy, death, has no hold over us. The victory has been accomplished. We cannot lose, not while we are bound to the life that is in Christ Jesus.

So how dare I imagine myself to be a loser? How dare I blaspheme against the grace of God by counting myself a born loser when Christ has taken that from me? Yes, by my own stupid choices I am a loser, but even these and their consequences are temporary. They have no power to defeat me so long as my gaze is fixed on Christ, so long as I am in communion with Him through His means of grace. For this reason I and my house refuse to bind ourselves to communions that corrupt these gracious means. After all, if we surrender to compromise the things by which Christ’s victory is made to be ours, then we truly shall be losers. What do we gain if for the sake of earthly fellowship we cut ourselves off from the Holy Communion that we confess in the Creed?

No, the way of victory is the way of the cross. The preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the hope to which we shall cling. The pure administration of the means of grace is sufficient to ward off all of the aspects of living in this world of sin that would make us to be losers. When we have these, why would we look to anything else? Why should we ever imagine ourselves to be losers?

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