welcome. why "weak on sanctification"?

this accusation is often made about lutheran christians. because we focus so strongly on god's justifying grace in christ, and our continual need, as "sinner-saints," to receive god's gifts of grace through word and sacrament, people say we are "weak on sanctification." i prefer to say we are strong on jesus, whose sanctifying work in our lives is the fruit of the gospel all along our lifelong journey. i would much rather focus on what he has done than on anything i might do.

the weekly discussion

each week I set forth a topic to promote discourse about some aspect of Christianity, the church, or the spiritual life. i would love to hear your perspective and thoughts on each week's subject. these discussions are usually posted on mondays, so if you missed this week's post and would like to catch up on the conversation, just scroll down and join us.

September 11, 2009

the lord's day—sept 13, 2009

15th sunday after pentecost

today's lectionary readings
isaiah 50:4-9a
psalm 116:1-9
james 3:1-12
mark 8:27-38

today's bach cantatas
bwv 25, "there is nothing healthy in my body"
bwv 78, "jesus, by whom my soul"
bwv 17, "who gives thanks praises me"

today's van gogh
the church at auvers, 1890

today's good news

measure twice, cut once. righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. handy people have a thousand sayings to remind themselves how to do things right.

i am fairly incompetent when it comes to handyman work. i just don't have the patience. rather than reading the directions or taking the time to adequately analyze the situation, i tend to dive right in. this usually results in a dozen trips to the hardware store, words escaping my lips that cause paint to peel, my family and the dog running for cover when they see me with steam coming out of my ears, and a whole lot of repenting after the job finally gets done.

when jesus said, "i am the way, the truth, and the life," we sometimes skip right over the first claim and jump to the other two. we focus on the truth he told us about his father, and the eternal life that awaits his friends. to grasp the truth and receive the life, however, we must take the way. today's good news from mark tells us something counter-intuitive: the way is to die.

how many times, in the middle of a home repair or practical project have i said, "this just is not right! i don't see how it can work that way! who designed this thing anyway?" (insert your own visuals—red face, clenched fists, large man about to explode...) now picture peter in today's story—same frustrated exclamations. same incredulous look on his face. same inability to grasp how this thing is supposed to work.

i'm afraid a good number of us have settled into an agreeable amnesia about how shocking jesus' words really are. we think this christianity thing is all about a comfortable, productive life for our families and us. all victory and well-being and unceasing joy.

it's not. jesus told us plainly that it's about the cross. it's about dying. it's about forsaking this world. the sayings we remember to help us do it right are about dying to sin and rising to walk in new life, about being last and not first, about being everybody else's servant, about giving up all we own, about god's power being displayed in our weaknesses and suffering.

i'm not very good at that either, how about you?

but then again, that's why jesus bore his cross for you and me.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, Chaplain Mike. "...about being last and not first." That's a hard one, isn't it. We are impatient and we don't want to wait for things to happen; we don't want to wait for "our turn."

    Thanks for the van Gogh painting too and for the links to all his paintings. That's a great website!

    Joanie D.