Jesus speaks to us today saying,
“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
There was a time when the flag of the United States stood for liberty and justice for all. A time when men were proud to sacrifice their lives for the rights protected by the constitution and upheld by civil servants, but that age is quickly coming to a close. The flag is now coming to represent a people that is hostile towards the Church.
Indeed, the world has betrayed you. It promised you life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It promised to uphold your inalienable rights, but has instead decided that those sorts of things only get in the way of progress. The world is all too happy to prove its point to you at the edge of a sword or in federal court.
The devil has betrayed you. He has told you that the world is at peace. He has told you that marriage is about self-fulfillment and that sex has nothing to do with marriage or procreation. Just take this pill or get a divorce. Oh, and don’t worry, allowing these things won’t destroy or alter any one’s morals or values.
You have lied to yourself. You have told yourself that this is all someone else’s fault when, in fact, god-fearing heterosexuals have been destroying marriage all by themselves. Gay Americans only make up less than 2% of the population. Who do you think is changing the government? The people supporting these extreme movements are not radicals, but folks just like you and many in good standing with the Lutheran church.
is not a Christian nation and you are unmerciful. In your attempt to make the
Church an American institution, you have cast aside your neighbor. In your
patriotic zeal, you make the Church a political arena where only mercy is shown
to republican voters or those like-minded.
It is time to wake up. Jesus demands your mercy no matter what and He demands it now. The political and legal climate of the country has little to do with God’s mercy that is only found in Christ Jesus and you are withholding it, comfortable in peacetime.
Christ is Lord of the Church forever and always. Jesus knows that the world hates the Gospel and His mercy, yet regardless of nation or flags, Jesus has mercy. For true mercy is only found in the humiliation and suffering of God on the cross.
Being merciful does not mean “live and let live”. Being merciful does not mean playing nice nor does it mean placing acts of mercy over the Word of God. The command from God is not “make yourself merciful”, but “be merciful”. Right now, be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful. Perfectly merciful.
This is the mercy Jesus offers to you. In baptism, you are placed into this mercy and are made as merciful as your Father in heaven. Regardless of who rules over you, how many times you are hauled in front of the judge, or how much you fail, Jesus is merciful and promises mercy. In the Office of the Keys, you receive this.
In this special Office, God shows you and the whole world His mercy. The Keys is that special authority Jesus gives to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of the repentant sinner, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.
chapter 20, we hear that Jesus breathed on His disciples and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Americans can pass any law they like. God’s words and promises remain unchanged. Whether its marriage, abortion, or defining what good is, the Word will always demand our confession that all our works, thoughts, votes, and associations are sinful and worthy of condemnation.
Before God, we are guilty of all sins; known and unknown. But confession has two parts. First that we confess our sins and second, that we receive Absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.
This wonderful, merciful gift is given to us, in Christ.
America is not
Christian and it doesn’t have to be. The flag is not a symbol of all that is
good in the world and it doesn’t have to be. You do not have to have a
constitution in order to receive absolution.
For you believe that when the Called ministers of Christ deal with you by His divine command in particular, when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.
You are baptized into Christ. You may have been born in
Iraq and yet
Jesus would still feed you His true Body and Blood for your salvation. As we
heard last week, Jesus is not just everywhere, He is somewhere. He is where His
Gospel is preached in its purity and the Sacraments are administered according
to the Gospel.
Jesus does not wait for you to be ready or ask Him to come into your life. Jesus does not have to wait for the right law to be voted on in order to rule heaven and earth. Jesus is not searching for these things.
Jesus seeks out the unmerciful in order to make them merciful. Jesus looks for the judged, the condemned, and the blind in order to give them His righteousness. On the cross, we see Jesus judged and condemned in our place. He falls into the enemy’s pit in order to bring us back out with Him. He takes our planks of sin, fashions them into a cross and dies to sin, never to die again.
Fear not, dear Christians. Jesus does provide and He will provide for us. His Church, purchased and won in His Blood, is prepped for any future. She is well provisioned with heavenly store and secured against any and all disasters. Because the Word of God dwells with us rightly, heaven and earth may pass away, but in Christ we will remain forever.
In Christ, the Word remains and though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us; we tremble not, we fear no ill, they shall not overpower us. This world’s Prince may still scowl fierce as he will, he can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done; one little word can fell him.