Word from the Center: Friday, July 20, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

Why Standing For Life Matters for Us All

A few months ago, my daughter and I went to the Newseum here in Washington D.C. There in the museum was a remnant of the fallen Berlin Wall between that divided East Germany from West Germany, and the sobering reality of the freedoms Communism removed from its own citizens. In the museum, there were also exhibits related to the Holocaust, haunting movies of man’s inhumanity to man. I remember the moderator’s challenge to “look at these things intently, really look, don’t turn away, so that such things might never happen again. Those are sobering words.

The challenge of those exhibits matters if we look with open eyes at the inhumanities in our own midst. With the concerns raised in the past weeks about the effects of policy on children, it should cause our country to look clearly at the enduring “child holocaust” that continues to happen in America. Thousands of children are killed each day, mostly as a matter of convenience for the sexual practices of consenting adults. Movies like “Silent Scream” and other gruesome pictures that try to demonstrate what happens in such clinics each day are summarily dismissed with calls to “look away” as if there’s nothing here. With science clearly demonstrating that the fetus is a child at conception, one that can feel pain at the 20thweek or even before, funding the destruction of the most helpless among us is an enduring public scandal. And then there are reports like the one attached by LIVEACTION called Aiding Abusers – Planned Parenthood’s coverup of Child Sexual Abuse, 2018It shows that an industry which provides abortions is motivated even to abuse its patients when it affects the bottom line.

Such things matter to us all because a culture that willfully destroys the most vulnerable in its midst eventually develops a coarseness and an inhumanity that can destroy the culture itself. If civility, humaneness, and peace matter for us, we need to “look intently” at abortion anew.

In 1994, Mother Theresa spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in our Nation’s Capitol, saying,

The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?… By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world…..Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.[1]

Giving abortion a “hard look”  leads us to stand for life because the sanctity of life matters for us all.

[1]http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles4/MotherTeresaAbortion.php

Devotion: Monday, July 16, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from Ephesians 1, where the Bible declares,

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known[b]to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

God’s Plan for the World, for You!

God has a plan for you! He has a plan for us. He has a plan for the whole world. God indeed has a plan. The problem is that we have our own plans and they eventually fail to remedy what really needs fixing. And, worse, they often don’t jive with God’s plan for us or for others.

If there is one “heresy” today that infects our modern world, it is the heresy of “self-sufficiency.” We, by virtue of our technology and our wealth, really do believe that we can accomplish ANYTHING on which we set our minds. If you don’t believe me, just listen to our politicians, our business tycoons, and our cultural mouthpieces. They are very good at convincing you that the old issues of sin, immorality, and lack of virtue are nothing compared to our will, our wealth, our restructuring and processing, and our determination.

Now, I’m not one who despises our freedoms, our technologies or our wealth. But the fatal flaw to such things is seeing them as THE solution to what really ails us. It’s not creation’s gifts that are the problem. It’s the hands that possess them. The Bible says that God has set into motion a cosmic, eternal solution to the broken, chaotic, sinful lives of humanity’s hands and hearts as only He can. He came into the world as “God-in-the-flesh” to redeem and restore us to become the truly human beings we were meant to be.

Paul says that “IN CHRIST” a plan has been set forth to unite all things in heaven and on earth already. So, when you hear of someone trying to solve the huge issues of the day merely by uniting sinful people to the cause, pause for a minute. There may be some good to the initiative, and things can be better or worse at times. But, in our hands, there will never be ultimate solutions until our hearts are restored to the one who created and redeemed us to be His own. With that perspective, strive for what is good in this world knowing that the best is something that only God can provide. And learn the power of Faith in your life, namely that God indeed provides salvation’s fullness in His Son Jesus for you, and that’s power to face whatever comes your way.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I want this world to be a better place, but help me to understand that even that perspective needs your wisdom, your vision, and your blessing. Draw me closer to you so that I might be a blessing to others. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, July 13, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

Reformation Restraint, Religious Liberty, and the Border Crisis.

What a week it has been! At the end of last month an issue occurred at America’s southern border that exploded all over the news. The LCRL office received requests for an official statement about the crisis of separating children from their parents as they were attempting to enter the country illegally. Various voices asked that we speak unambiguously about the issue. That request came from both sides of the matter. Some felt that present U.S. policy was a clear example of our growing inhumanity. Others felt that finally our laws were being respected and that our own citizens, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, were being protected as they should be. Then there were those who were lamenting the politicization of this issue (see this article by Cal Thomas to that effect). So, what to do, what to say?

This is good time to talk about the uniqueness of Two-Kingdom Engagement in these volatile issues. It is true that certain issues of civility and humanity at times rise above the issues of policy. When the notion was presented that children were being abused at the border, there is no doubt that such actions, if true, would be inhumane and wrong. It’s also clear that children should not be used as political footballs for the sake of public law.

Since this was such a grave charge, it bore even closer, more thorough investigation. With that in mind, Reformation Restraint can be a helpful guide for engagement. Reformation Restraint is a principle that demands that we respect those in power as we seek justice (Romans 13), and that we speak and act judiciously, not hastily, with clear knowledge concerning the needs of all involved. This provides a well-rounded understanding of the benefits and consequences of the public actions under review. Concerning immigration, those issues involve not only the treatment of children and families by the U.S. government, but also the rights of American citizens and legal immigrants, as well as the effects of laws that are incentivizing the abuse of migrants and their families by coyotes, drug cartels, and child traffickers. With knowledge of these various issues and an understanding of what indeed was actually happening and why, Two-Kingdom citizens are then compelled to speak, even to act, according to their conscience for the sake of all, not just for ourselves (see Romans 13:5).

Why not something more “absolute?” Reformation Restraint cautions us from saying, “Thus saith the Lord” on many issues for good reason. Often times politics and policy issues seek answers to complex problems that render only a “lesser of two evils” answer because there really isn’t a completely “right” one. Other policies have tradeoffs involved, with both up-sides and down-sides. Reformation Restraint is the perspective that tells the Christian to respect the work that is done by our public officials unless it clearly is violating God’s law, even as we make our voices known on an issue. Reformation Restraint realizes that God created the left-hand kingdom realm to preserves civility and order in a broken world, not to save it. And with government policies, even good ones, it’s a sobering reality that Christians can be on both sides of an issue at times and still be faithful proclaimers of the Gospel.

So why do we take such a clear stand with government over issues concerning Liberty, Life, and Marriage? Why isn’t there Reformation Restraint there? Well, there is. But these issues are not public policy issues on particular matters, but fundamental protections that need to be defended for the sake of all. To defend liberty is to defend the access of all voices, including the Church’s and the individual Christian citizen’s voice, to be freely shared in the public square for the sake of our culture. Life, too, is a fundamental issue that goes to the core of our being as humane, human beings. Even the Church’s issue on marriage is fought as a “religious liberty” issue, a freedom of conscience issue that even those who disagree with the view of traditional marriage can support. It is for those reasons that the Church engages the culture to protect its public space to be faithful to Christ, offering His blessings on His terms for all. When engaging in issues less foundational than Liberty and Life, Reformation Restraint still seeks justice. But it does so with a judicious attitude and with respect for those who are called to serve in the capacities of law-enforcement, government, and other public leadership. In so doing, we, as we say here at LCRL, aim to put our “temporal liberties to work in service to the eternal liberties of Christ for all.”

 

Devotion: Monday, July 9, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from Mark chapter 6, where the Bible says,

And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Be Yourself IN CHRIST!

The people that day disappointed Jesus. Actually, they should have disappointed themselves. Jesus merely marveled at their unbelief and arrogance. Here was God “in the flesh,” the creator of the universe, there to bless not to judge, to heal, not to destroy, to forgive, not to punish. Yet, they were offended by Him. In their minds, God would surely not subject Himself to the mundane things of this chaotic world. No carpenter-saviors for them! No God for them who is so familiar that He can truly understand them, their predicament, their sin, and still save. Sadly, their dismissal of Jesus, like so many today, was the ultimate disregard of themselves. This event is a reminder that often, even the best of our philosophies, economies, and politics can disconnect us from what is most essential in our lives as human beings, our relationship to the God who created and redeemed us.

For a modern illustration of such things, think of the haunting story of aging, German philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher, who did much to shape the progress of modern thought. The story is told that one day as an old man he was sitting alone on a bench in a city park. A policeman, thinking that he was a vagrant, came over and shook him and asked, “Who are you?” Schleiermacher replied sadly, “I wish I knew.”

Or think of the past state of affairs of one of my favorite comedic actors, Peter Sellers, whose biographer Peter Evans says in the book, Behind the Mask,that Sellers played so many roles he sometimes was not sure of his own identity. He recounts that Sellers was approached one day by a fan who asked him, “Are you Peter Sellers?” Sellers answered briskly, “Not today,” and walked on.

So, “Who are you?” Jesus then, and Jesus today, is in our midst asking, “Who are you?” The ultimate answer is a faith response to Him, that you and are children of God, not by our “own reason or strength,” but by Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection on our behalf. Faith in Him restores our sense of ourselves and we can begin living “eternally gracious lives IN HIM” for others, today and forever. Don’t be fooled by a sense of yourself in any thing other than your relationship to the God who loves you, who created you, and redeems you to be His own. Then, get about the joyful task of living boldly in that reality and see how life changes each and every day.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, grant me wisdom to look to you and your Word for an enduring sense of who I am and what I’m to do in this world in and for you. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, July 6, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

Why Issues of Cultural Liberty Are also a Church Concern.

It’s the week of the 4th of July, a time when Americans celebrate the freedoms that they have in this country. You hear marching bands this week. You see fireworks. You even hear the Star-Spangled Banner, along with the enduring hope of liberty that those stars and stripes are meant to embody. For many this is a purely secular, political event, as if there is nothing inherently spiritual to it at all. For others it is a deeply religious event that may even have millennial hopes and dreams connecting American freedoms to the very coming of the Kingdom of God. Both of those positions ultimately miss the point. For those who are secular, they miss the point that God is indeed at work. He is preserving this country and our freedoms from our inherent selfishness and sinfulness through people’s various vocations, often times in spite of ourselves. For the religious folks who blend the work of the Church and the State into one, they miss the absolute uniqueness of God’s Kingdom, created and inaugurated by the person and work of Jesus ALONE. One that is not “of this world,” but it is “in this world” as a gift for all to receive solely by grace through faith in Him (see Jesus’ words in John 18:36).

So, is there another way to celebrate the 4th of July? Is there a 3rd way? Well, yes. And Jesus defines that way in Matthew 22 when He says, “Give to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s, and give to God the things that are God’s.”  Later, he even reminds Pontius Pilate (one of Caesar’s boys) that the authority Pilate has in this world is also from God alone (John 19:11). For people who realize that God is at work two different ways, to preserve the world and to save the world, there is a way to celebrate the freedoms that all Americans cherish, even as we proclaim the unique freedoms that only Christ can give. For those who are Two-Kingdom people (those who know that God is at work in the civil AND the spiritual realms in two different ways), it is a time to celebrate the unique liberties that God has made available to us in this country, and to rejoice in the results of their wise, faithful use. While at the same time, we remember that even these liberties, as unique and wonderful as they are, are nothing compared to the eternal liberty that Christ earned on the cross for all. Our American liberties may form a “better union,” a more civil and tolerant and just society compared to others, but it is merely a band aid fix that still yearns for God’s ultimate work, a work that only He can accomplish for all.

One of the reasons why the LCRL is in Washington is to ensure these God-given fundamental rights are respected for all, and to make sure that they are differentiated from God’s ultimate liberating work in Christ which can never be accomplished by politics, polity, or policy. One can celebrate our liberties as Americans, and even defend them, while differentiating them from the Gospel which alone can truly save. Remember St. Paul in Acts 16 when he claimed his Roman citizenship and used it for his own protection, even as he sought to proclaim the Gospel for all to hear. Think about that when you put the hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, or when you talk to your neighbors about cherishing your American freedoms, and the freedom that really matters in Jesus ALONE.

Devotion: Monday, July 2, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from Romans 8:20-21, where the Bible says,

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Total Freedom!

One of the tough lessons to learn in this life is that, no matter how hard we try, many things will never be completely the way that they are supposed to be. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to do things correctly, morally and otherwise. But, it is a sobering reality that even as we strive to do what is good and right, there remains struggle, pain, and suffering as an enduring reality even then. It’s like the creation itself is “groaning” for renewal and restoration right along with us. That reality reminds me that even as “saved people of God,” we are pilgrims here waiting for the complete restoration, the total freedom that God has made possible for us in Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want us to get comfortable in this sinful world because He has a new world in store for those who put their faith in Him.

In “The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis famously noted,

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, he has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

Lewis speaks of our moments of delight as “pleasant inns.” The 4thof July is one of those moments in our culture where we revel in the freedoms that have been uniquely fashioned for the citizens of this country. These freedoms are protected from government overreach. They are to be exercised with a religious motivation and a self-discipline that looks out for others more than oneself. But, no matter how wonderful they may seem for a time, the chaos in the world remains, reminding us that Christ has “inaugurated a new Kingdom” in this world as a gift, but we will not fully experience or enjoy it until his return. So, enjoy the “pleasant Inn” of freedom this week, may it refresh you. But, never forget the total Freedom, the eternal Freedom that Christ wants for you. May that enduring reality strengthen you no matter what comes your way in this life. Even as creation itself seems to groan, it should remind us all that no matter what we are facing today, in Christ, the best is always yet to come!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give me an eternal perspective on things as valuable as “freedom.” And may I rest all my hopes and dreams for such things in you, giving me strength to live a life of freedom IN YOU for others. AMEN.

Word From the Center: Friday, June 29, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

The Weaponizing of Politics – targeting traditional sexual mores and the Bible itself

A friend of mine sent me a note about a bill that is presently going through the California legislature, namely Senate Bill 2943. (See here for more information). This bill is supposed to “protect LGBT” people from “conversion therapy,” by banning counseling that maintains the possibility of the “coming out” of the homosexual lifestyle. It should be noted that this bill would disallow such guidance even if an adult homosexual person seeks out such counsel of their own volition. Chilling. In a time of supposed gender fluidity, where people can claim a variety of notions about their gender or their preferred sexual practices, the only thing that is considered “nefarious” is the notion of tradition values and morals, the traditional limitation of sexuality only within the bond of marriage, and the fundamental differentiation of the male/female union from all others.

In a time of sexual confusion, the explosion of STD’s, METOO concerns, fatherless homes, destructive serial monogamy via divorce, and gender fluidity, the real question to be noted here (especially from a “left hand Kingdom” perspective of the Christian Church in the United States), is “What business is it of the government to be defining what a ‘healthy relationship’ is in the first place?” Governments don’t “grant” rights and they sure don’t define healthy relationships—not in a free society anyway. They can guard inalienable rights that a “person” has from their Creator, or they can “take rights away” for very clearly defined, limited purposes. So, What’s the purpose of involving the coercive power of the State in the definition of what can and cannot be discussed about sex, sexuality, relationships, and mental/spiritual health? It is the wrong-headed limiting of rights, the stifling of dialogue, even the punishing of legitimate disagreement that is the real issue here.

The fact that the legislature is involving itself in this discussion should be of concern to everyone, whether people of biblical, traditional values, or of those who hold completely different views. Our society is presently engaged in a weaponization of politics that is designed to codify our cultural values through the coercive power of the law. Such weaponization doesn’t stop at punishing bad “behavior.” It is more than comfortable punishing bad thoughts (as defined by the state), and bad speech (also defined by the state). It’s time to tell the bureaucracies of our culture that we, the people, have religious liberty, freedom of speech, and the freedom to serve others, gay or straight, the way that Jesus Christ serves us. People don’t have to agree with the biblical perspective on these things, but a civility of discourse, even a healthy notion that we can disagree but not be disagreeable shouldn’t be taken away by the raw power of punitive laws and state-supported threats of endless litigation.

Devotion: Monday, June 25, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from Mark 4:35-41, where the Scripture says,

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Real Help in the Storms of Life!

This is one of my most favorite events in the Scripture because it testifies to the uniqueness of Jesus, the majesty of Jesus, and the loving heart of Jesus for you and me. Here He is in this lesson with people just like you and me. He is there in the midst of the terrors of the moment. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus not only entered into our world to experience what we experience. He literally took upon Himself the eternal ramifications of our sin, our death, and the righteousness judgment that we deserved. So what’s a little tempest in a teapot to Him? What’s a little storm in life compared to suffering God’s righteous judgement in our place? Well, Jesus doesn’t differentiate that way… He comes to take on both for you and me, so that we can be brought through all of that to life with Him forever.

There’s so many things in this passage today that can bless us. The extent to which God was in Christ willing to save us is amazing. He leaves the power of the heavens to be born in a manger. He is willing to be vulnerable to the world that is in rebellion to its Creator. He is willing to serve to the point of exhaustion, to sacrifice even to the point of the cross. Why? Because He loves us with a magnificent love. Yet, we, like the disciples often ask, “Jesus, don’t you care?” When He stopped the storm that day, they merely got a glimpse of the power that He would unleash through His suffering, death, and resurrection for them. You and I get to see the fullness of that reality as we read the Scriptures every day.

So, remember, today, Jesus wants you to put your trust in Him, in the middle of the storms you may be facing. He doesn’t enjoy the terror any more than we do. But He’s the One who can always see you through it. He can help you overcome it. If you must face it, He can even make it a blessing to you and to others in spite of it. In fact, He promises that nothing in this life will separate you from Him, from His love, from His life and salvation.

In the middle of despair, that’s when faith in Jesus holds! And that’s the power that God wants for your life today, the power of faith in Jesus Christ, the One who is ruler of the wind and the waves, the One who is your Lord and Savior, and mine as well.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I don’t always know why you allow things to happen in my life. But when they do, give me even greater faith to trust in your purposes in my life for others. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, June 22, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

Boys, Scouts, and why “Traditional Family” matters

I just recently returned from an annual “fishing trip” with a great bunch of guys. Yes, that’s right, all guys. It’s a trip that I look forward to every year. There are young guys and older guys. There are guys from various walks of life, as well as from different socio-economic perspectives. There are even differences politically too. But there is a common bond of faith and a camaraderie and commitment to each other that is magnificent. There are a few traditions amongst the guys that I’m sure most women would find unusual, even confusing. But after our short time together, there’s a unique blessing to be together to learn what it means to be one of the guys who loves God, loves his wife and family, and strives for honor as a man. And there’s something destructive about tearing that reality down.

The recent admission of girls into the Boy Scouts is part of a long-term strategy to radically transform the Scouts, yes. But, even more, it’s a strategy to change what people think about what boys, girls, men, and women are and what they should be. See Bill Donohoe’s Newsmax article titled, “The War on Boy Scouts Will Continue,” which talks about the dismantling of the fundamental virtues of being a “boy” Scout. Noted Feminist author Christina Hoff-Sommers goes deeper. Her research over the years states that there is a concerted war on boys as boys.

Why does this matter? It matters because “Family” matters, not merely as a “relationship” but as an institution. Societies that de-emphasize or, worse, denounce the institutional nature of marriage are literally destroying an institution that makes society possible. The interrelationship of Man-Woman-Children, whereby parents feel compelled to grow their children from boys to men, from girls to women, undergirds, even creates, a civil, respectful, humane community as they fulfill their “duties” to one another born from love.

When you read about men who abandon their families, when you read about boys/men who never leave home, when you read about increasing violence in our communities, much of these generally male maladies can be attributed to the demise of traditional institutions like marriage, and, yes, like the Boy Scouts. When people seek to stay married, raise their children, and create a family that honors and serves one another, even as it honors and serves one’s community… that’s something that deserves to be respected and protected, not dismantled and demeaned.

Devotion: Monday, June 18, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from 2 Corinthians 5:19-20, where St. Paul says,

THAT GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF, NOT COUNTING MAN’S SINS AGAIN THEM. AND HE HAS COMMITTED TO US THIS MINISTRY OF RECONCILITATION, FOR WE ARE GOD’S AMBASSADORS, AS THOUGH WERE MAKING HIS APPEAL THROUGH US, BE RECONCILED TO GOD!

BRIDGING THE GAP!

In DC, there is truly something miraculous when people can bridge the gap between the great divides in our culture without demeaning what is precious to us in the process. In fact, it’s virtually impossible today… really. Why? Because people often treat others as enemies to be vanquished rather than people to be loved and served. And, politics, at its core, is ultimately not about service but power. Oh, people speak about service and sacrifice, but when you can tax people…that’s power. When you can force people to do what you demand that they do, that’s power. True reconciliation of disparate people is a rare and miraculous thing in our lives in general, especially here in our nation’s capital.

And that’s why our verse for today is so wonderful. There is a miraculous reconciliation that we can know and receive in our lives. And yes, it can transform our lives, our relationships, and even our communities by extension. The message of the Gospel is quite literally the bridging of sinful humanity to God. And here’s what will really blow you away… it didn’t happen by power or coercion or pressure (that’s why even our best “policies” are never going to reconcile us where it really matters). No, the God of the Scripture, who is righteous, holy, even all-powerful, miraculously reconciled a sinful, rebellious world back to Himself through service, sacrifice, and mercy. God has done all that in Christ for you and me.

So, think about it today. You have been reconciled to God, despite your sin and guilt. You have been given a new lease on life, even though your own efforts testify to your heart that you don’t really deserve it. And, you’ve been given an eternal “retirement” plan that is as sure and certain as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How about putting that perspective to work in your life? Get up every day and tell yourself the truth, “I am a redeemed and reconciled child of God,” and in that new perspective on life, begin to take up the challenge of living graciously towards others the way He has towards you. And realize that the very reconciling power of God that drew you close again to Him, that power is available to you and through you as you prayerfully serve others the way that He has served you. That living faith bridges gaps miraculously. Let that testimony be a reality in your life to bless you and those you love every day.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the power of the Gospel that reconciles the world back to you through your cross and resurrection. By your Holy Spirit, give me the faith to trust that for my life and the courage to put that reconciling power to work for others. AMEN.