There are SO MANY versions of the Christian faith floating around these days.
What strikes me is that when the Sacraments are missing, or when they are misunderstood as to their direction (from us to God instead of the other way around), then the whole thing goes South.
Lot’s of Christians speak of the grace of God. “He is our all in all”.” He has done it all”. “There is nothing we can add”. That is a good thing. But there is nothing for many of these Christians to grab hold of. Their beliefs inhabit the nebulous territories of heart and mind. Yes, we believe them. But now what? How can we be SURE that they are true, and real, IN OUR LIVES, at this moment?
It seems that because of the kind of creature that we are, a tactile, tangible, experiential being, our faith must land somewhere. The rubber must meet the road, somewhere, somehow.
If there’s nothing to grab a hold of that is tangible, that comes to us from outside of ourselves, then we will internalize this desire for solid proof. We will rely on our emotions, our deeds, our thoughts, our knowledge, even our own faith. Welcome to ‘religion’ in the 21st century. Look familiar? It ought to. It’s no different than the religion that humans have practiced for as long as they have been around. It hides behind the pious words and works of those who have no assurance of their salvation, other than what they are able to muster up of their own volition. Then you end up with holiness churches where people are movin’ on up.
But the external Word, which includes the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, are different. They do not eminate from inside of ourselves and are not dependent on anything that comes from our side of the equation. They are real events that happen in real places with real earthly elements in real time. And the action in these events is not our action, but God’s. His Word is attached to them. Otherwise they just remain earthly elements. And these actions of God are apprehended by the very gift of faith that God also gives to us, in these Sacraments and in the hearing of His Word.
Now we have something that we can HOLD onto. Something that has been given to us with NO strings attached. Something that is REAL…and NOT subject to the winds that blow in and out of our often weak frames, hearts and minds.
We can look at our Baptism and KNOW that the Lord promised to be our God there. He gave us His name, there. He gave us all that Christ is, right there. He rightly judged us guilty and put us to death, there. And He raises us with Christ, right there. Not once, or twice…but day, after day, after day, after day.
We can look at the Lord’s Supper in the same way. In that meal, Christ Jesus gives us ALL that is necessary. Himself. His body, His blood. Broken and shed for the forgiveness of your sins… and in this is your new life, and your salvation.
Now we can give up the religiosity that often characterizes the lives of so many who are looking for proof.
If you want proof, listen to what God has done, is doing, and will yet do…for you. And bathe in the truth of your Baptism… and eat and drink of that proof. And hold onto it. And when you can’t hold onto it, know that He is holding onto you. And that His promises are FOR YOU…no matter how you may happen to feel about the whole thing at the time.
This view of the external Word and Sacraments is not being religious, but it is being a truster, a faither of God’s promises.
Does this make any sense to you? (not that it has to)
Thanks to flickr and ModernDayGilligan, and get fed, for the photos.
Filed under: Assurance, Sacraments | 17 Comments »