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Matthew 10:16-39

 

"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

 

"So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

 

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (ESV)

 

 

No Accommodation

Monday of Easter 2

28 April 2014

Before the Constantinian accommodation with the church in the fourth century of our era, the church experienced a period of significant growth by adult conversions. Such converts moved into the life of Christ through the sacrament of baptism and experienced fully the move from darkness into the light, from love of sin into the abhorrence of wickedness, from ignorance to true knowledge, and from the counterfeit of life to real life. How bright and glittering that must have seemed in those days to break so decisively with the old pagan ways of the so obviously dying world and to begin to live the new life through being born again by water and the Word. There was nothing accommodating or obsequious about these conversions in those days when such a conversion could cost life, liberty, or limb. There was nothing presumed about this life. One did not stumble into Christianity, but one was just dying to enter it. This was a manly conversion which counted the full cost (1Co 12:11). Cyprian himself avoided one persecution (250) and then embraced death in the next (258). But he was able to embrace it with the shining clarity of the martyr who knew that from which he had been rescued and for what he had been rescued.

 

We who have lived within the eschaton of the now-crumbling Constantinian accommodation and who have been baptized as infants, quite wrongly, see without that shining clarity. We think martyrdom is far off. It is not. For the devil seethes under the surface of our world, ready to break the magma of our age with the rage of an ancient evil. There is no rhyme or reason to this evil because it is not subject the Logos, who is Wisdom incarnate. None can predict it. But there is reason for our clarity of vision. We have come through a martyrdom in the waters of the font which brings death and raises to new life. Death then, is not in some far off future, but it has been worked on us by God in the font where we are buried with Christ into His death. Death has been sown into us at the font. Our martyrdom has been begun and is already complete in the trial of the font. The font itself is the source of our clarity and that is the same no matter when we are buried with Christ; whether as an infant or an adult. For our baptism was never about us, but about Christ; His death and His life into which we have been placed.

 

There is no doubt that baptism is a difficult thing because it plunges us into trial from the beginning. It moves us from the impossibility of our radically ingrained wickedness into Christ. That transference from impossibility to Christ remains a very real thing even now. We become deeply ingrained in Christ while once our corruption was deeply ingrained in us. What we once thought was impossible does not bind God, the master thief, who snatches us from death. No matter when we were baptized, God has worked His salvation for us and granted it to us on the trembling face of the waters. Our trial is lived then every day as we continue in the death and life of Christ against world, flesh, and devil. With these there can be no accommodation.

 

Cyprian of Carthage

 

"While I was still lying in darkness and gloomy night, wavering hither and thither, tossed about on the foam of this boastful age, and uncertain of my wandering steps, knowing nothing of my real life, and remote from truth and light, I used to regard it as a difficult matter, and especially as difficult in respect of my character at that time, that a man should be capable of being born again (Jn 3:4)--a truth which the divine mercy had announced for my salvation--and that a man quickened to a new life in the font of saving water should be able to put off what he had previously been; and, although retaining all his bodily structure, should be himself changed in heart and soul. I said, 'How is such a conversion possible, that there should be a sudden and rapid divestment of all which, either innate in us has hardened in the corruption of our material nature, or acquired by us has becomeinveterate by long accustomed use? These things have become deeply and radically ingrained within us.'

 

"These were my frequent thoughts. For as I myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which I did not believe that I could possibly be delivered, so I was disposed to acquiesce in my clinging vices. Because I despaired of better things, I used to indulge my sins as if they were actually parts of me, and indigenous to me. But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of former years had been washed away, and a light from above, serene and pure, had been infused into my reconciled heart. After that, by the agency of the Spirit breathed from heaven, a second birth had restored me to a new man. Then, in a wondrous manner, things I once thought doubtful began to assure themselves to me, hidden things to be revealed, dark things to be enlightened. What before had seemed difficult began to suggest a means of accomplishment. What had been thought impossible, to be capable of being achieved; so that I was enabled to acknowledge that what previously, being born of the flesh, had been living in the practice of sins, was of the earth earthly, but had now begun to be of God, and was animated by the Spirit of holiness.

 

"You yourself assuredly know and recollect as well as I do what was taken away from us, and what was given to us by that death of evil, and that life of virtue. You yourself know this without my information. Anything like boasting in one's own praise is hateful, although we cannot in reality boast but only be grateful for whatever we do not ascribe to man's virtue but declare to be the gift of God; so that now we do not sin is the beginning of the work of faith, whereas that we sinned before was the result of human error. All our power is of God; I say, of God. From Him we have life, from Him we have strength, by power derived and conceived from Him we do. While yet in this world, we foreknow the indications of things to come."

 

Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to Donatus, 3-4
 
Prayer

Lord Christ, You have brought me through death into Your life. Grant me to live freely the martyrdom into which You have put me. Help me to face the trial into which baptism plunges us. Amen.

 

For the Council of Presidents of the LCMS, as they place candidates for the offices of the church, that those who are placed would rejoice in the labor to which they are assigned


For all pastors, that they might preach the life of Christ when the speak

 

For all persecuted Christians, that they might have the grace to not revile in return and not threaten, but entrust themselves to the God who judges justly 

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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