Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Be strnegthened by Grace

2 Tim. 2:1-7 (ESV)
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, [2] and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. [3] Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. [4] No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. [5] An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. [6] It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. [7] Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. We all want to make ourselves stronger. Often we think we can be stronger Christians, if we just… The list that comes after just is a long one. It is often the byproduct of navel gazing. Too many associate being a good Christian with how a person lives. I’m not going to say that there isn’t a certain manner of life that we should aspire too. I am going to say though that it often has very little to do with being a good Christian, as much as these things have to do with being a good person. There is also a trap here. The trap springs when we think we are a good Christian, because we finally mastered a few sins, and are more able to avoid them. One problem here is that we tend to be blind to other sins that have replaced them, sometimes less obvious sins, but sins nonetheless. We start to judge others for not being as good a Christian as we supposedly are. Often times these judgments are not even based on anything biblical. It is our nature, we are all Pharisees by nature, and need to be careful as to where that pharisaical head is popping up in our lives. Believe me it is. We tend to be self-righteous little snobs. This is the end of strengthening yourself, rather than being strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Being a Christian isn’t about living the perfect life, I don’t think it is even about trying to live that life, it is about living a forgiven life. Being a good Christian is about constantly returning to the fount of our righteousness, the forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Grace strengthens us. We can, and maybe ought to, exercise our will in daily matters, doing our best to avoid sins we are consciously tempted to. Be we will never become stronger Christians thereby, maybe better citizens, and that is not a bad thing. But the Christian lives on the word of God, the forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Brigitte said...

My Luther-Bible has "Menschen" (human beings generically), not "men" as the translation. I dug out the inter-linear (the closest I get to the Greek) and it has "men". Strange, though.

That Pharisaical head bobbing up is something we know but want to forget quite badly.

In childhood we kept "poetry" books, in which we got friends and teachers to write sayings on pages and decorate the opposite page. I have a beautiful watercolor by my religion teacher with a hymn verse in one book, but on another page is a saying that hits quite hard is: "Die Heiligkeit mit der sich manche Seelen blaehen, ist of blos Mangel an Gelegenheit, die Fehler Anderer zu begehn."

Which is: "The holiness with which many a soul puffs itself up, is often only the lack of opportunity to commit the sins (mistakes) of others."

This was from a teacher, too. Good thing to remember.

Being "strong in grace" reminds me, too, of something Rev. Dr. Krispin related to everyone at the last staff appreciation dinner worship service. (I have mentioned this before). He has pretty hectic days, but on his desk he keeps a smaller flatter crucifix; and during his day he will put his hand on it and remember that he is baptized in God's name.

It is a pretty personal thing to relate but people might as well know it. (He also spoke at length about the theology of the cross, and amazed a few Catholics in attendance.)