We are of good courage as His children 2 Corinthians 5: 1-17 First Saint Johns June 14, 2015

[For the audio version, click on the above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are courageous in the Lord said … AMEN

“At our daughter’s high school graduation, I couldn’t help noticing a young man sporting a long bleached blond ponytail sprouting from the top of his otherwise shaved head. A heavy link chain hung around his neck, and one ear displayed several earrings.

I had to smile when I heard him say to his friend, “Man, I feel so out of place. I’m the only guy here not wearing a tie.”

There is such a thing as clueless courage, hey God bless him, frankly, it seems to me that there’s a lot of clueless courage in the world. It’s somehow “courageous” to be in favor of things that the Bible clearly calls sin, but because it’s what everyone else does, it’s somehow courageous.

When I was a boy, we moved a lot, seemed I was always the new kid on the block. Well you know how the “new kid on the block”, gets treated. I always found it amazing how these guys would pick a fight and think they were being courageous picking on me with six of their friends standing around. There’s just a whole lot of that today, everyone likes to think they’re a tough guy until they look and realize their posse isn’t around them.

Paul put up with a lot of bullies, people who would abuse their authority by abusing Paul, or people who would just try to bully him into shutting up. There’s a lot of that today. Those in the world love to think that they are so marvelously open minded, it’s rather shocking how rigid and close minded people are today. They will criticize anything a Christian says as “judgmental” and then turn around and judge them by telling them how judgmental they are. There is one big difference between a Christian and those in the world. When I say something and tell someone what they’re doing, or teaching or selling is wrong, I’m not making it up, or at least, as a Christian, I better not be. Anything I say to anyone better be something I can back up in the Bible. Part of the problem in that is that even those who are regularly part of the church, really don’t know the Bible. For most, they may have a knowledge of the Bible, but not sufficient to feel confident about sharing it with someone else.

Much as I’d like to think that I’m an absolute expert, I’m not, and there are times when I am witnessing to God’s will and I feel like I’m on shakey ground. I have to trust that the Holy Spirit put me in front of someone in order to witness to them. Matthew 10:19: “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.” Jesus is, of course, saying, that the Holy Spirit will guide you in what He wants you to say. It does take courage, we often summarize courage in that Christian word we call “faith”. Permit me to give a little longer quote from Dr Luther, because what we as Lutherans think of as faith is very different from what those in the world think of and actually, even most Christians: “Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.”[1]

It’s interesting how we think in terms of being “pious” to have “faith”, whereas both Luther and Paul say, it’s not so much being somehow so humble, bashful, even restrained, sure we aren’t called to be obnoxious, but when we are witnessing to God, we are called to be assertive, positive, uplifting, but in no way bashful or pulling our punches. Many might see being reserved as being somehow so much more “Christian”, but I have yet to have anyone show me in the Bible where Jesus, Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, the Old Testament prophets were somehow piously quiet or bashful. Plenty of people thought they were more than sufficiently obnoxious. But they weren’t, they were being courageous.

I even hear Christians say this: “Well you don’t want to impose your beliefs on others.”????? Let’s understand this right off the bat, I’m not imposing my beliefs on anyone! If I can’t back up something I say in a very straightforward and unambiguous way from the Bible, then I should not be saying it. If I am faithfully and yes, courageously, speaking and witnessing for God, if I’m being led by the Holy Spirit to share Christ with someone else, how is that imposing “my beliefs” on someone else? They are “my” beliefs to the extent that as a temple of the Holy Spirit, I am faithful to Jesus Christ my Lord and I certainly have been imbued with those beliefs, but where did those beliefs come from? Me? No! They are what Jesus taught, God the Son, they are what He expects us to live by and to actively share and live by with others. Just like my faith, how I know to live and serve as a Christian is because the Holy Spirit has guided me and you, to live and serve and speak that way to the world. We need to faithfully follow what Jesus tells us and to stop living by the world’s uninformed opinion. More often than not when I am sharing Christ with someone, they don’t even know why they believe what they believe or even what they believe. They’ve heard someone else say it that criticizes Christians and they simply accept what they’ve heard.

We are called to “always be of good courage”. Paul goes on to say, “we walk by faith, not by sight”. That does make us very different from those in the world. They have no faith, they have no discernment, they accept what the world imposes on them and they expect others to just shut up and listen. If what you say is opposed to them, you’re wrong and will be slapped with however many nasty, intolerant labels those in the world will impose on you. While the Holy Spirit guides you to speak, Matthew 10:19 ; “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.”  While we have the word of God in the Bible to tell us God’s will, while we have the preached word, teachers who are there to help you understand God’s will and word, the world has only what’s been made up. The world will ignore God’s word, tell you what the real “truth” is, and has no basis for telling you anything.

Faith is the courage the Holy Spirit gives us in order to stand against a dark, sinful, ignorant world, the courage to tell the world what God’s will is. The world likes to think it’s will is important, in the end those opinions change, are proven wrong and are just ignorant of the facts. God’s will has been what matters and has been consistent for eternity. The world’s opinion lasts for a season and then is completely different a short time later. The world’s “truth” can’t be counted on for more than a few months, God’s truth has been and will be forever. Luther says: “Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you

freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.”[2] These aren’t your words or actions, they’re God’s, you’re not “imposing” anything. God is giving you the faith and courage to tell those around you the truth. If they want to treat you rudely, bully you, impose their groundless beliefs on you, that becomes their problem. You have courageously, faithfully and strongly pointed to the truth that God Father, Son and Holy Spirit guide us in. You’ve done your part courageously, not imposing, now we leave it to the Holy Spirit to do His part. If that other person can’t, won’t accept it and continues to act like you’re wrong, they’re the ones that will pay the price. You have been faithful and courageous in sharing Christ and He will tell you “’Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21) Take out your journal, how can you be more faithful in the courage God gives you to share the truth of God’s will and with whom will you share it?

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.

[1] Rev. Robert E. Smith Walther Library Concordia Theological Seminary

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/luther-faith.txt

[2] Ibid

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