Saturday, September 9, 2017

Declaration of Dependence

For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. --Proverbs 3:12

To be placed into the midst of a Christian congregation and under the care of a Christian pastor is explicitly to be a dependent and to admit it publicly, for it is incompatible with the Christian Faith to assert independence except an independence from all that is wrong and evil. This fact does not sit well with the rest of the world.

Christ builds His church by incorporating souls into His body through His teaching and sacraments. No one may join the church by his own independent decisions any more than one may cause himself to be born. This, too, does not sit well with the rest of the world.

The Christian church is coterminous with the body of Christ and therefore dependent upon Him alone for all things. The parts of the body are dependent. They do not seek their own way, but they live and abide in concord with the whole body.

To the extent any Christian is given to “do his own thing,” it is inimical to the essence of the Church. This may happen while under the care of the body of Christ, yet the body of Christ reacts not with rejection or revulsion, but with ongoing teaching and patience. Were the body of Christ not to care for its members and exert discipline, it would not be the body of Christ.

That is not to say it is impossible for a member to reject the body altogether, as happens with those who fall away. There are many who do, just as there are many who gleefully assert their independence while mocking those who are incorporated into the church and are dependent upon Christ for all things.

It remains for all Christians to be freer than those who claim independence for themselves. How so? They are free from the fear of death. They are free from superstition. They are free from idolizing everything the rest of the world worships. They are free from demonizing the good things of creation and may use them in service to themselves and others. They are free to suffer for doing good without despairing.

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

On Possessions, Income, and Time

The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it. -Psalm 24:1

Possessions: Stuff, family, reputation, etc. There is a legitimate purpose for having them.

With respect to your own possessions, you ought to think of them as on loan and subject to departure at any moment for any reason, whether by breakage, loss, theft, destruction, or your own departure from this life. With respect to your neighbor’s possessions, you ought to seek their protection and their increase.

Ownership: personal control, manipulation, whether for oneself or for others. To own something is to have power over that object, to dispense it, manipulate it, consume it, watch it, and apply it to reason and senses, all during a short time under the sun.

By nature, your heart treats as the highest and best good anything other than God and neighbor. That includes your possessions, income, time, and even at times your family. Uh oh! Your soul is at stake in all this. Your soul is worth more than your possessions but also includes them. Abusing your possessions is abusing your life.

By nature, however, God’s utmost desire is to have and keep you and His people as His own possession. This He does, in and through Christ Jesus. He honors your life and possessions first by laying down His life and taking it up again, and by seeing to it that your life and all you have may be joined to Him forever through the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.

All that you are and have are in and through Christ Jesus, dear Christian. Therefore, your possessions, income, and time are to be used with this in mind.

Part of this includes money in support of your pastor(s) and for churchly supplies so that the Gospel may be preached and practiced, apart from which you cannot live.

Part of this also includes money for goods and services provided by your neighbor, so that he, too, may live and prosper in peace.

Lastly, the grace of God in Christ Jesus makes you mindful of the poor who are all about you, so that your possessions and income may be used in their favor as well.

Thus it stands for all those who know and believe that they have not made themselves and cannot make themselves.
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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dear Emma Elizabeth,

This morning I listened and watched as you were plucked from the kingdom of the evil one and placed firmly into the ark of Christendom. You were baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Already, after less than two weeks outside your Mommy’s womb, your Father in heaven has seen to it that sin and death will not have its way with you. The same Father in heaven who gave you the gift of your body through your Mom and Dad has made you His own child today, because He, too, was conceived and born of the same flesh and blood you have, except He has taken your place as your sin-bearer and Savior.

Your life is not the same any more. As a matter of fact, your life is no longer your own, but it is a life purchased and won for you at great cost. You’ll learn more about that as you grow up.

As you grow older your Mom and Dad, as well as your sponsors, Mr. and Mrs. Rhein, and your pastor(s) will take a keen interest in seeing to it that you are raised within the hearing of God’s Word, in God’s house, so that you never forget where you came from or where you are going, but will live out your days in thanks and praise to the One who has loved you with an everlasting love from the beginning.

As your Grandpa, I have listened and watched for years as your aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, and many before you have been blessed beyond all we could ask or think through the same Christ Jesus into Whom you were baptized today. He is faithful. He never changes.

At the same time, we and all Christians together have learned that a life worth living is never a life lived for oneself. Rather it is a life abiding in the same Jesus who was crucified as the Son of God, and Who lives to bless all of creation. It will be a life hidden under the Cross for you, just like it is for all of Jesus’ dear Christians, for whom He gladly laid down His life and took it up again.

Of course I will be praying for you, just like all Christians do for one another together as they have been taught. I suppose I will be tickling you and teasing you a little bit, too. That’s just part of the fun in being a Grandpa.

God bless and keep you, Emma, according to His everlasting mercies in Christ Jesus.

- Grandpa Seyboldt

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