Jesus put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" (ESV)
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Tuesday after Reformation Sunday
27 October 2015
Wishy-washy church leaders are not new in the church. The church has always been plagued by spineless leaders. Gregory Nazianzus lamented the way in which the spirit of his day had invaded the church and led churchmen to be double-minded, unable to make a definite and unshakeable confession of the divine truth about the holy Trinity. In our day, we can think of the Swedish lesbian bishop's willingness to remove signs of the Crucified from a Christian chapel or the cowardly capitulation of the Roman Catholic bishops to the imposition of Obamacare in 2009, just when a clear stand for freedom would have been most helpful. We can all think of ways in which our own pastors have pulled their punches rather than landing them for the truth, just as, we must confess, we ourselves have. One obstreperous liberal in our midst silences cowardly, but well-meaning, conservatives every time. One aggressive enemy will silence the faithful. I share that fearfulness, to my shame.
We must never lose sight of the One whom we are representing, whose divine plan is at work among us, and whose Word we are proclaiming. Only in that proclamation will God's will and work be done on earth as it is in heaven. Martin Luther reminds us of this in his explanation to the first petition of the Lord's Prayer from his Small Catechism: "God's name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God's Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father" (SC 3.2)! We must be found on the side of the truth if we are to keep God's name holy among us. God's name is certainly holy in itself, but we are to keep it holy among us by proclaiming it faithfully against all comers. When we don't it is to our shame and to the profanation of God's Word.
We must recognize that God's Word is not ours to possess or to control. It is a Word that must possess us and control us. God must speak. We must listen. To turn this around is a blasphemy; a self-deification. If God must listen and we must speak, then there has been a tragic and complete reversal of roles. Yet this is exactly what is happening when cowardly church leaders adjust the divine speech to be acceptable to the world with its changing and vacillating "values." We should fear God's wrath when we meddle with rather than proclaim His Word (Mt 10:28
). We will never be able to satisfy the world's insatiable desire to re-image God and to adjust His Word along politically correct lines. Once we start down that road, it will be similar to being forced to provide an addict with more and more of his self-centering drug. He will never accept revision nor will he thank his enabler, but will devour him in the end.
It is easy, of course, to think of the world as someplace far from our churches and families; say, in Washington or some other national capital, among the powerful. But Paul warns us that the world is as close as our own hearts (Rm 7:16-19
). Worldly-mindedness must be battled in ourselves first. Then we must be aware that our enemies might lie closest to our hearts. Our Lord Jesus says a cruel but entirely true thing to us when He warns us: "A person's enemies will be those of his own household" (Mt 10:36
). It is both cruel and true that my own wife and children may be the enemies that are most dangerous to the faith. The household of the church also has enemies sown among the faithful (Mt 13:28
). Only God's speech is capable of sorting this out with the glorious truth of God's Son come among us in the weakness of the flesh to die for the sins of the world. About that we can hardly be wishy-washy.
"This is my position with regard to [the Trinity], and I hope it may always be my position, and that of whomever is dear to me: to worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three persons, one Godhead, undivided in honor and glory and substance and kingdom, as one of our inspired philosophers [probably Gregory Thaumaturgus] not long deceased showed. Let him not see the rising of the Morning Star, as Scripture says (Job 3:9
), nor the glory of its brightness, who thinks otherwise, or who follows the mood of the times, at one time being of one mind and of another at another time, and thinking unsoundly in the highest matters.
"If the Holy Spirit is not to be worshipped, how can He give me a share of divine glory by baptism? If He is to be worshipped, surely He is an object of adoration. If He is an object of adoration He must be God. The one is linked to the other, a truly golden and saving chain. And indeed from the Spirit comes our new birth. From the new birth our new creation. From the new creation our deeper knowledge of the dignity of Him from whom it is derived."
Gregory Nazianzus, Fourth Theological Oration, 28
Lord Jesus, in Your compassion for poor sinners plagued by the world, You have given Your Word into our hands. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we might faithfully confess Your truth against all comers. Give us the courage to reject the world's attractions and remain faithful to Your gospel; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For Greg Koch, who is having gallbladder surgery, that the Lord of the church would grant him healing in accordance with His good and gracious will
For those thinking of loved ones whom the Lord has taken, that they would have all the courage and hope of the divine promises in the power of life and the glory of the resurrection of the dead
For Rev. William Heine, that he would be strengthened and upheld by the Lord as he serves as the Headmaster of Memorial Lutheran School
Art: Dürer, Albrecht The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015