1 Peter 4:7-11
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
And we have need of this Helper. We have need of His word to us. We need this word of Christ which tells of salvation and lifts you up, encourages, strengthens you. For Your saviour’s Word lifts you up on eagles wings. It gives you strength when you are weak, life when you are dead, salvation when you are damned, pardon when you are guilty as sin, mercy when you don’t deserve it, finishes your job when you didn’t do it, pays your debt when your broke. The Holy Spirit uses this Word to replace your heart of stone with a living, beating, real heart. New life. We need this because apart from the Holy Spirit we are dead. Dead in sin. Dead in trespasses. Dead to God. Unable to cry out to Him, reach out to Him, or do anything to get to Him for we are spiritually dead. Dead to Him. Cut off from the vine of life.
So the Holy Spirit grafts you into Christ the vine. Into His rugged cross, so that His life blood flowing down that cross pumps into you. Thus, the eyes of your heart are fixed, focused, constanly aware of Christ whose cross is your life-support. Thus His life flowing in you, His love flowing to you is transformative. It changes you. For there is new blood in you, a new mind at work, Jesus’ mind, Jesus’ heart, Jesus’ thoughts, His way of thinking. New life to the full!
The Holy Spirit brings to mind all that our Lord says. He puts His thoughts in your head. For Christians must not to think like the world. We are not every man for himself but every man for Christ, every man a part of Christ, every man for those who are in Christ, and Christ for the world. Therefore our lives for the life of the world. We are not dog eat dog but if our neighbour is hungry we give him a loaf of bread, if he is thirsty we give him a drink. We are not looking out for number one, but in Christ we consider ourselves less than the other, esteeming others as more worthy than ourselves. Servants of all, for we have been served by Christ.
We can not be caught up in the silly cares of world: keeping up appearances, worrying about what others think of us. Instead do right by people, but don’t be a people pleaser. Be a God pleaser. Seek to do what He would have of you. Seek to believe, teach, and confess what He says. That will most definitely put you at odds with this world. It will make your life dissonant to that of the world.
You may not look all that different on the outside but your attitudes and your actions will be different than the world. This is not to say that as a Christian you will be a carbon copy of every other Christian, all of us like some kind of Ned Flanders, a goody two shoes types, with the same, stupid pasted on fake grin, covering up our faults, and hiding our imperfections from others. No, God has made you fearfully and wonderfully unique. For He is the Artist who painted the sky, sculpted the mountains, and fashioned the woods. He is the Designer who put the beauty of the sine wave in the flowing field of wheat. He delights in you as the unequaled masterpiece you are. But as an artists sign his works, Christ leaves His finger prints, His signature on you. He fashions your life uniquely according to the gifts, talents, callings, and grace He pours out on you. But through it all, His signature, His style, He Himself is seen in you. For His Holy Spirit is in your heart, He is in your thoughts, His mark was made on you in Holy Baptism. This signature of our Lord Jesus Christ is merely His sacred life bubbling up within you. That’s how the Holy Spirit helps you by causing Christ’s Word, Christ’s life to bubble up within you as He reminds you of all Christ has said. For He is life, His Word is life. The Holy Spirit then brings that life to bear on your attitudes, choices and actions. So there is a graciousness, a liveliness, a love, a compassion that marks Christians. They don’t just let wrong and wickedness in themselves and others slide, they know it for the damaging evil it is. They name it as the disease that destroys you and robs you of joy. And they seek the medicine of Christ’s absolution.
But His signature on your life does not mean that the Christian’s life will be free from suffering or pain. In fact, as a Christian these characteristics that mark you will single you out as different. And the world doesn’t like different. The world likes the same. Have you ever noticed how much when we think we are expressing ourselves through our clothing choices, haircuts, brands we buy, cars we drive, we’re really just dressing up like everyone else in the group we identify with. It takes guts to stick out in our world, because the world doesn’t like different. The world likes the same. Christ puts you at odds with the world. He makes you stand up to injustice, to wrong, to lovelessness, to false teaching, to legalism. Christ makes you deal with sin, and call it what it is. He repents you of it. He causes you to name yourself a sinner. And then He gives what the world never gives. Forgiveness. Life. Salvation.
He is different. The world is the same. He is warm and loving. The world is cold and spiteful. He is forgiving. The world is vengeful. He is joy-filled. The world is dreary, miserable, and angry. He is full of freedom and life. The world craves life and freedom, but really just enslaves everyone to its cult of death.
The world, which is in the grips of each individual’s own sinful desire, doesn’t like anyone to be different. “If I am miserable, everyone else should be too” seems to be overarching theme of the world. So the world points out differences. It mocks and tries to put people in their place. Back into the sameness. And if that doesn’t work, the world not only calls you down, and tears you down, but even isolates, torments, and destroys you firstly through words, then social pressure, then even at times by physical violence and death if need be.
But not so we who have been redeemed from the world. We have a Helper. An advocate who encourages, counsels, and lifts up; who speaks of our saviour; who tells of His love; who brings to mind all He taught. This One testifies within us. He turns us from our sin. He encourages us when the world turns on us, persecutes us, and seeks to destroy us. He calls us to repentance when we go way of the world. He restores us to blessed the faith of Holy Baptism.
Therefore, by the Holy Spirit’s aid we can stand in the day of trouble. We can keep our thinking firmly rooted in Christ Jesus. When we are attacked, we standup under fire. When we are torn down, we are not destroyed. When we are put to the test, we pass with flying colours. For it is not we who are able to withstand the world, but He who sent His Spirit to live in us who has already overcome the world!
In fact, by the Holy Spirit living in us we are able to think like this: Am I suffering for following my saviour? Good. I am blessed. I am carrying my cross. I am a Christian. A cross bearer. I am counted worthy by my heavenly Father to suffer the same mockings, betrayals, slanderings my Lord suffered. I am fortunate for the glorious Spirit of God rests on me seeing me through even these fiery trials. I shall overcome because His overcoming Spirit lives in me!
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran ChurchThunder Bay, ON