May 21, 2023
Today’s Reading: John 17:1-11
Daily Lectionary: Numbers 14:1-25, Luke 18:18-34
John 17:11: “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why does it feel so good to lament the decline of civilization? It seems like a solid 80% of the conversations I have with Christians involve some sort of complaint about the world. Why does it feel so good to think there’s nothing we can do about it but say “I told you so” in the face of calamity?
Maybe it’s because quitting feels easier. Or because when we are powerless to circumstance, it might be our problem but at least it’s not our fault. Even with Christ who is risen from the grave, Christians aren’t just sad but despondent. Hopeless. That’s worse than sad. Sadness can keep fighting. Keep struggling. But when there’s no hope, when the world is insurmountable, why bother? Hopelessness creeps into every part of life. Relationships feel broken and unfixable. Anxieties pile up and can’t be conquered. Illnesses are terminal and can’t be cured. This is what giving up feels like. And it feels good.
Despondency feels good. Complaining about the world feels good. If you couldn’t have won anyway, you can be dragged into the same sins you lament in the world, the same culture you decry, but with a superior attitude and “I told you so” on your lips. Despondent people build altars to their own emptiness and turn the church into something that looks like it’s dying too. Do you know how pitiful it is to quit something the Lord has already won the victory over? Repent of your hopelessness. Repent of your politics and the despair they bring you. Hear Jesus pray a prayer for glory and fully expect it to be answered by the Father with a cross. Know that this cross is for you. To forgive you your sins. To save you from a world destined to decay. Cling to the resurrection and the promise it yields. Nothing that falls apart won’t be put back together. Christ died on the cross to save sinners. To save you. To save those in the world. The world itself may fall apart. But you are already rescued, as surely as He is risen. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O King of glory, Lord of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
-Pastor Harrison Goodman is Content Executive for Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Jonathan Lackey is an LCMS seminarian.
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.