Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Quiet Kind of Good

The Baptism of Jesus
“As the PEOPLE were in expectation, and all were QuesTioninG in their HearTs concerning John, whether he might be the CHRIST, John ANSWERED them all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but He who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I AM NOT WORTHY to untie. He will BapTize you with the Holy Spirit and with FIRE. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to CLEAR His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:15-17)

The world has trouble seeing anyone who is weak enough to die as any kind of savior. Jesus of Nazareth was constantly redefining what we assume power—and God—to be. He looked like a regular guy: probably with dark skin, short black hair, and a beard. He was poor: His father was a carpenter. He didn't smite sinners: He ate supper with them. He didn't abhor the weak: He walked among them and healed them. He had no love of money, no desire for personal gain, no outward evidence of "power" of any kind, except to show it through compassion and mercy, and the willingness to suffer torture, ridicule, and even death for the sake of those who hated Him.

Still, evil appears more powerful than good. That's because evil is boastful and loud while good is meek and quiet. We watch the news and see people crying out, bodies everywhere, massacres, rampant illness, no food, no shelter, so much grief and hopelessness. What we don't see in those images on the news is the presence of God in the midst the suffering.

God is quiet. Like that baby in a manger, He comes to us in our hours of need in quiet ways: through His Word and Sacraments, through prayer, through bouts of inexplicable hope and optimism, through the hug of a friend, the help of a stranger, and finally, through salvation and life everlasting with Him in paradise. God has no need for loud noises, chaos, and destruction. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, we are able to believe in the Son of God even though He still appears weak in the imperfect eyes of the world.

No, Jesus is not yet as loud as an earthquake, but His time will come. He tells us in Scripture that when He returns, heaven and earth will tremble, and the sky will be lit up with fire. His return will be loud and spectacular: the kind of things we would expect from the Son of God. And so this time, no one will be able to doubt that He is Lord of all. His winnowing fork will separate the wheat from the chaff, and we will be avenged. In the meantime, as you watch the news, remember how many of those who appear left for dead will rise again, whole, new and eternal. And as you attend church, remember that the whispered Word of God is infinitely more powerful than the loudest clamor evil could ever make. 

Suggested verse to repeat when evil is just too loud is John 16:33b
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
“But take heart: -------> 5 count inhale
I have overcome the world.” -------> 5 count exhale

For more on being left for dead, click here.

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