June 7, 2015 Text: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Dear Friends in Christ,
There is nothing as devastating as division. It was a great burden for the Apostle Paul. The Church of Corinth, which he had helped start, was divided. Some followed Cephas, some followed Apollos, some followed Paul. Another group wanted certain freedoms. This all led to everything being questioned. Can’t a man marry his father’s wife? Can’t we divorce? Can’t we sue in court? Can’t we believe whatever we want about the Lord’s Supper? Issues like this can destroy and divide churches. People then begin to resign themselves to the inevitable, “The world is getting worse. Evil wins all the battles. What’s the use?”
Yes, the devil is winning battles. Yes, afflictions weigh heavy on us. However, these things are temporary. They are not eternal. Is that how you see them? Today is an optometry lesson wrapped in a sermon.
“THROUGH WHAT LENS DO YOU SEE LIFE?”
First of all, our focus is on the faith that has survived for generations. We have the same faith, we believe, as the saints who have gone before us. Paul saw through the lens of faith just like Noah, Abraham, David, Isaiah. We have that same lens of faith as Paul and as our Lord Himself. They – even Jesus – looked for things they didn’t yet see with their own eyes. We have God’s promise that God raised Jesus from the dead and He will raise us also.
Faith that God raised Jesus and that He will raise all his believers moves the saints to speak. Paul and his cohorts just couldn’t keep silent. They traveled everywhere and even went to their deaths spouting the resurrection.
Can’t we not do the same? Think of all the people in our world whose lenses are fogged up by political correctness, moral relativism, and spiritual apathy. They can’t see any farther than the next worldly thrill, the mind-numbing group think, or right past the Creator God that stands in their midst. Their vision is nowhere near 20/20. It has slipped completely off the eye chart of sanity. We have a clearer vision and we need to speak that to them. God’s grace can reach those who are blinded by their sin.
There is perhaps no greater evidence of the faith of the early Christians than that they were willing to suffer for it. Paul and many others Christians could have saved their lives by renouncing Jesus, but they wouldn’t do it. They went to crosses, flames, the arena, the sword. And why? Because they were that certain Jesus had risen and He would raise them.
Today, we face some of the same sufferings. We live with the consequences of our sins. The forms can be many: sickness, death, persecution of Christian brothers and sisters around the world, struggling and broken relationships, financial struggles. As Christians we are not exempt from this reality. Even though real, they are transient. They are not going to go on forever.
The other reality is God’s future reality for His people brought to us in the present by means of the Spirit, namely the resurrection hope. God delivers this to us through His Word and Sacraments. The verb “renew” does not appear often in Paul’s epistles, but it is used here to remind us that we are being “renewed” day by day through the work of the Holy Spirit in our life.
Now the optometry lesson wrapped in the sermon. What lenses do you see through and therefore live out life? With what lenses do you examine and discern current reality? Are you focusing on the temporal transient realities of this world alone? Are you near-sighted? Only seeing what is right in front of you? I pray not because this is what Satan uses to blind and veil a believer’s focus.
Are you far-sighted? You view life by gazing into God’s eternal promises. The world’s present reality is seen with eyes. The unseen world of God’s rule and reign is seen through faith in Christ. As Christians, we must live our earthly lives in this fallen world. Paul did not trivialize this, and neither should we. We face our realities as resurrection Christians who experience God’s mercy and grace. Our earthly home and troubles are but momentary. God was raised from the dead to overcome our sin and the wiles of Satan and to give us an eternal home not made with hands. The lens of faith is ours through our Savior Jesus Christ. I can see clearly now.
Today, whether you have been a long-time wearer of glasses or have never had your eyes checked like your Pastor, we have all been fitted with God’s glasses. This allows us through faith to see God’s eternal reality, even now in the present.