[click on above link for audio version of this sermon]
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 have been pre-destined in Christ from the beginning of the world said … AMEN!
Christians are starting to get a little too much of a “bunker mentality”, I’m going to stay in my own group, I’m not going to share Christ with other people, I’m just going to treat it as my viewpoint and not try to get anyone involved.” That we are essentially under siege, many would claim that Christians in the world are oppressed and yes there are many who are openly persecuted. So we take on this attitude of being beaten down, forced to shut up, sort of like a beaten dog and just keep a low profile. A radio preacher really drove home the point, though, that sure, maybe we are getting a little beaten into hiding. But can we really justify that when we talk in terms of who we are in Jesus? Can we really justify a persecution complex, the “everyone’s picking on me poor, poor pitiful me mentality”, because I’m in Jesus and let everyone know about it? The Concordia Self-Study Bible points out: “Divine election is a constant them in Paul’s letters [the note describes 33 verses in Paul’s writings, from a number of citations in Romans, Colossians, first and second Thessalonians and Titus], in today’s periscope, “…it is emphasized in the following ways: he chose us, he predestined us, we were also chose, having been predestined” Based on the fact that we are chosen, God has “pre-destined” us to salvation, that we are in His Lordship of our life, are we really justified in thinking that we are some kind of a victim?
It’s sort of like professional wrestling. How does it work in professional wrassling? The hero goes out and takes a beating, he gets taken down, it all looks hopeless and then …? Right? He gets off the floor, and eventually rallies to give a beat down to the Undertaker or the Iron Sheik, or whoever the bad guy of the day is. Not all the time, but I think under the circumstances of today, that’s kind of how we feel. We might take a beat down for Christ and as I’ve said before, for us here, it’s really not so bad. But we certainly know Christian brothers and sisters who are paying a heavy price for being Christian disciples. But because we are saved in Jesus, because we are baptized children of the Father, how can we really think that no matter how much persecution we endure, that we’re oppressed?
The fact of the matter is that we are saved. We know we are saved because of the tangible signs that we’ve been given. We are baptized into new life, we do take the Body and Blood of Jesus, we do hear His preached Word and read His written word. We know, just like the wrassler, I have been a big fan of Killer Kowalski, we do know how this ends, we do know where our eternal life begins. To be sure, life here matters. I’m not trying to downplay our earthly life. But we are so much more than that, and we certainly can’t justify thinking of ourselves as victims. We’re not! Sure we may get a metaphorical bloody nose once in awhile, get the short end of the stick. But for what it matters we have been chosen, we have been predestined to eternal life in Christ. For me that is enormously reassuring. I’m not saved in anything I do, for that matter, I can’t accidentally mess it up. I am saved, I am forgiven, I am predestined by the Creator of the Universe, God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to life eternal. To life “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) We are the victors in Jesus! We are Hulk Hogan in terms of Christ, we are His. He gives us true life, not just in the resurrection, which considering that is eternal life in Him in the perfect, unlimited, exciting life in our perfected bodies, the way we were meant to live life as a Christian. But also that we have abundant, fruitful lives because Jesus is the Lord of our life in the here and now. Sure we might take some hits for it, but when you really look objectively at what the rest of the world thinks of as “living”, we are so blessed to have a life in Jesus that is about the truly important things in life. We get to live a life that is meaningful and is not all about the sin that we see that is all around us. We are free in Christ, not like the person who is enslaved to lust, or greed, anger, bitterness, drugs, consumerism, violence, the list goes on and on. Even someone who is so caught up in the world, like Bob Dylan is quoted as saying “All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.” For those in the world, they are enslaved to those sins, that is what “life” is to them. For them to feel as if they are “living” they need to constantly have an increased amount of the newest things, the most popular life, more ponography, more substance abuse, they are slaves to their things. We should have pity and compassion on those who are in the world, because they are caught up in such hopelessness, things that make them dead now. Do Christians struggle with those things? Yes, they do. But unlike those who are enslaved to the world, we know that we have been saved from those enslaving things, we know that we do have true freedom and true deliverance. We are not tied to those things, we know that the Holy Spirit continues to save us from the things that dominate other’s lives. It is not through our efforts that we are saved, even in the midst of struggle we have the Holy Spirit to turn to and guide us away, make a way possible to overcome. Sadly for those in the world who somehow think they have the upper hand, they don’t have that choice, they are victimized and snarled in their sin. Others in the world try to help them overcome, but it is remarkable how ineffective and even more deadening when others use the methods of the world. Often it leaves people even more victimized. But over and over we see how faith based methods of saving people from sin work in astonishing ways.
So how can we say we are victims when we have the assurance of being saved, no matter how bad we might mess things up, we know that the Holy Spirit is waiting for us to turn to Him? We know that what Jesus did and does for us brings us life more abundant in the world, and in eternity. As I said, how can we whine about some temporary imposition, when so many around us, are tangled in their sin, completely addicted to their sin and lost to eternal separation and punishment because they rejected God’s salvation in Jesus? They are victims, we should have great pity and compassion for them. And we who have been pre-destined from the beginning, who know what our life is here and eternally, how can we really feel as if we are the victims?
Father, help us all to know in our hearts, to the depths of our souls, the riches in Jesus that we have been given and that we are pre-destined to receive in Jesus. We are comforted constantly in prayer, in trial, in the constant reassurance that we have, that we are truly holy, sanctified, set apart in Jesus. He took all of our sins on Himself, and on the Cross He paid the price for all those sins. Because of that He gave us the promise that through Him we are sufficient to be in the presence of our holy, perfect, just, gracious God to life and life more abundant here and in the eternal world of the resurrection. Take out that journal and write about the ways you have been delivered, about the assurance we have in Christ of being saved from the evil in the world and that we are pre-destined to life eternal and more abundant in Jesus.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.
 Concordia Self Study Bible p 1804