Monday, August 3, 2015

God Restores Us to Himself

THREE ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF GOD



For the word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness.  He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.  Psalm 33:5-6


TODAY we will learn three qualities about the Lord who loves us gave Himself for us; the God who abides with us now in holy communion and who we will abide with for eternity.  Don't doubt it, dear Christians.  In spite of many transgressions your eternity is sealed by the New Testament made in the blood of your Lord, who is the Resurrection and the Life.

It is good to know all we can about the Living God so that we will not be uninformed worshipers, like Muslims who bend ignorant knee to a false god filled with fear and trembling.  We, too, humbly prostrate ourselves before our God, but with knowledge, because we have learned to know His faithfulness, righteousness and justice.  These are the divine qualities we will consider this morning.

When we say that God is Faithful, we mean that He is true to Himself.  That He is who He is and all His works reflect His essential being.  He is "very good" so the garden He planted is likewise "very good."  The man whom He created from the "very good" dust is likewise "very good," a rational being created by the Living God to dwell in holy communion with Him.

We learn this from today's gospel lesson as well.   Jesus, too, was a man of dust!  "True man born of the Virgin Mary," but conceived by the same Spirit the Lord God infused into Adam's nostrils.  He wasn't created like Adam was but rather "begotten of the Father from eternity," so that true and essential God lived in human flesh in the Person of Jesus.

As such our Lord was faithful to who He is.  He taught heaven's word with such grace that people sat spell-bound for days, forgetting even the  most basic necessities of life because man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  And live they did!  But Jesus did not forget that the thousands who sat before Him were composed of dust, so he provided for the bodily needs.  He will provide for yours as well, so rest calm.  Do the work the Lord puts before you to do each day, whatever it may be, and rely on Him.  Your labor will not be in vain.

However, if we leave this miracle thinking only of bread for the belly, we leave money on the table and that's as bad a policy in religion as it is in business.  The reason that the feeding miracles enjoy such a commanding presence in the gospels is because they teach us not only about the Lord's power and love, but because they instruct us about the Eucharist.  If Jesus can turn "nothing"  into something with more left over than when He started, then He can also turn fear into confidence, weakness into strength and death into life.  The Eucharist does all this for us and more, because God is faithful, true to Himself and always does true works in and among us.

We also learn from the psalm that God loves Righteousness, but that word doesn't mean what you think it means.  In Biblical terminology Righteousness means that all things are working as God created them to work.  It was the default condition of things before sin entered the world.  The good man worked the good ground that sprouted good food.  It was pleasant to behold and provided the kind of satisfaction that pristine man needed.  Because God is faithful, He could do no differently.

In the same way our Lord Jesus Christ is Righteousness personified, who by the blood of His cross makes us righteous as well.  For holy scripture declares that we are "made righteous," restored to the image of God by faith apart from the deeds of the Law, for Christ is the end of the law to all who believe.  This is the holy faith breathed into us by the Holy Spirit in holy baptism;  a faith strengthened and perfected in us as we subsequently commune with God in worship, imbibing His Word with our ears and His sacrament with our tongues.

The Lord loves justice, but again let the buyer beware!  What men call justice is nothing more than common sense, for society cannot hold together if good people are not rewarded and the evil not punished.  The farther society strays from its Christian moorings, a transformation that is now nearly complete, the more unjust society becomes.  Theft is glorified and taught by example from the top down.   It discourages people from working, planning and saving.  It convinces them that gaming others is the best way to make a living, but don't be taken in, dear Christians, because God commands thou shalt not steal, and because St. Paul says, "Let him who stole steal no more, but let him do honest labor so that he might have something to give to those in need."

Because God is faithful, holy scripture says that He loves Justice, but God's justice is always poetic.  Thus we find in Exodus 20 that the penalty matches the crime.  An eye is to be extracted for an eye taken.  A tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot.  This is also why death was necessary to pay for human sin, because the Lord God decreed in the Garden that, "the day you eat of it you will surely die."  Thus, our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, but by that death He gave us the most merciful gift of all:  eternal life in Him.

That, too, is in keeping with the steadfast love of God that endures forever, so men who died by a tree are revived again by a tree.  Those who died by eating are made alive by eating.  This is why the Holy Spirit called and gathered us together today, to be made alive.  O taste and see that the Lord is Good.  Amen

~ Rev. Dean Kavouras

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