Reflections: July 5, 2020
The Fourth Sunday after Trinity
By Alexander Lange
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The motto, "Deeds, not creeds," is not only utter nonsense (the motto itself is a creed, after all), but it is also utterly unchristian. The Christian faith is all about creeds. In Luke 9:20 Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" The world might admire Jesus and speak highly of Him, but true disciples confess the truth about Jesus.
Indeed, the entire Bible is about what Jesus does: He became man for you, He obeyed the Law, He was crucified for your sins, and He was raised for your justification. That creed is the heart of Christianity.
What makes the motto really silly is that it fails to see that creeds create deeds. What you believe affects what you do. Hence, Jesus tells His disciples to be merciful, but not simply to practice any kind of mercy. They are to practice the mercy of their heavenly Father! This presumes, of course, that they know in what way God is merciful.
The blind cannot lead the blind (Luke 6:39). The spiritually blind -- those who don't know God's mercy in Christ -- cannot understand mercy and cannot teach it to others. Unbelievers tend to think that mercy looks like ignoring someone's failures and giving people permission to do whatever they want.
Christians understand mercy because they have received true mercy from God. God didn't ignore your failures or give you permission to sin. Instead, He punished your sins in the body of Christ and He accepted Christ's blood as a ransom payment. God forgave your sins, and that's very different than ignoring or permitting sins.
Since you understand mercy, you can practice it. You can imitate your Father, precisely because He is your Father. Instead of ignoring or permitting sin, you can address your neighbor's sin with empathy, patience, and kindness. Instead of judging and condemning, you can forgive and give an unearned blessing. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O Lord, grant that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Your governance that Your Church may joyfully serve You in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity)
- Rev. Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
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