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1 Corinthians 10:1-10

 

I want you to know, brothers,that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

 

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (ESV)

 

 

Common Humanity

Monday of Easter 4

12 May 2014

The last time I was called for jury duty in Harris County, Texas I was confronted by the usual forms. One of the form to be filled out for the county clerk by all potential jurors included a box labeled: "Race." And it included the notation that the State of Texas required this information to be gathered from all potential jurors. Churlishly, I wrote "Human." In regard to how we live together in the world and order our lives together there is no other way to answer this question. We are to be a "color blind" society. The things we share in common with one another are far more important than those things that purportedly separate us. We are humans and share all the characteristic weaknesses and strengths of human nature.

 

Nothing; not government, not laws, not even conversion to Christianity, could ever wipe away our common humanity with all that that solidarity implies. We all equally face the inevitable suffering as well as the onset of our enemy, death. "For as in Adam all die..." (1Co 15:22). When a plague prowls the streets of our cities, it will devour all those whom it clenches in its maw. No one will be able to claim immunity from our common failings.

 

Sometimes Christians are deluded into thinking that Christian faith exempts them from the common failings and sufferings that fall upon all humans. They think that Christianity will make them better at business, more successful in their profession, more beautiful, or even rich, or give them an exemption from sickness and death. These temporal benefits, often promised by religious hucksters, cannot be delivered because they are the common lot of all who live in the flesh. Such a hope in temporal benefits from Christianity is to turn the Christian religion into a purely fleshly religion. Biblical Christianity seeks to save the whole person, including both body and soul, but in such a way that its promised benefits are seen only in the life which is yet to come. Until then we walk by faith, not by sight. We have what cannot be seen, like immortality, the life which cannot die; the life that will be lived within sight of Christ, God's Son. All this is ours. Known. Believed. Not yet full experienced. 

 

Cyprian of Carthage

 

"It disturbs some that the power of this disease [of the flesh] attacks our people equally with the heathens, as if the Christian believed for this purpose, that he might have the enjoyment of the world and this life free from the contact of ills; and not as one who undergoes all adverse things here and is reserved for future joy. It disturbs some that this mortality is common to us with others; and yet what is there in this world which is not common to us with others, so long as this flesh of ours still remains, according to the law of our first birth, common to us with them? So long as we are here in the world, we are associated with the human race in fleshly equality, but are separated in spirit. Therefore until this perishable body puts on the imperishable, and this mortal body puts on immortality (1Co 15:53), and the Spirit lead us to God the Father, whatever are the disadvantages of the flesh are common to us with the human race. Thus, when the earth is barren with an unproductive harvest, famine makes no distinction. When with the invasion of an enemy any city is taken, captivity desolates everyone at the same time. When the serene clouds withhold the rain, the drought is the same to everyone. When the jagged rocks rend the ship, the shipwreck is common without exception to everyone who sails in her. The disease of the eyes, and the attack of fevers, and the feebleness of all the limbs are common to us with others, so long as this common flesh of ours is borne by us in the world." 

 

Cyprian of Carthage, On Mortality, 8

 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, we share with all humanity all the burdens and ills from which you have redeemed us. Help us to be compassionate toward those who do not yet know of that redemption. Give us the strength to comfort those who in suffering realize their ultimate end, and who begin to see their need for You. Help us to confess Your ultimate salvation as we minister to their temporal needs. Amen.

 

For all new college graduates, especially Hilary Murray, that they might live as the salt of the earth

 

For all those who labor to alleviate common human suffering, physicians, nurses, technicians, and researchers, that the Lord would bless their labors with success

 

For Concordia Publishing House, that the Lord Jesus would make His Word which remains forever grow through the work of publishing, that many more people would know the divine truth

 

For all musicians, that their gifts would be used to honor God and to offer beauty to the world

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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