We’re working hard over here in our small part of the Pacific Northwest to get a classical and Christian school up and running this fall. Our headmaster returned from the ACCS Annual Conference last week with some thoughts about the challenges of getting going.
Just like anything else with a gargantuan upside, this is going to be hard. It’s going to be hard because it’s supposed to be. We are a major threat to the enemy and to the world, and we are looking to create generation after generation of worshipers who will be dangerous weapons in the hand of our Redeemer King. God willing, they will be familiar with hard work mixed with happiness; the mindset of fallen man filtered through Scripture and the mind of God; their place in the river of Western culture and the river’s source and destination.
I’m guessing that what we have become as a society is less like a threat to Satan than it is like a warm blanket: ambivalent about religion, ignorant about history, apologetically spineless, altogether faithless.
Ambivalent, ignorant, spineless, and faithless. These are things we don’t want to be. May God help us worship and live steadfastly as those who have overcome the evil one.
Not only did Jesus pray that we would be one as He and the Father are one, He also provided a meal to unite us. He Himself is the meal, His body the bread, His blood the wine, broken and poured out all for love. He gave His flesh so that we could enjoy familial fellowship as part of His household.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16–17, ESV)
When we sing songs such as Glorious Day, and as we think about Jesus our Redeemer, the suffering sacrifice who bore our sins and carries them far away, note that the day of our forgiveness isn’t the glorious day, though that day was great. The day of His coming is the glorious day. One day He’s coming, because what He did isn’t just a message of justification to be believed, He is the Beloved One meant to be known forever.
One of the reasons that confession of sin seems so odd, even distasteful, is that we have little to no sense of togetherness.
Sin creates space between persons, whether to opposite sides of the bed, the room, the city, or the country. Adam and Eve died when they disobeyed in the garden of Eden just as God warned them. Their immediate death was a spiritual death, and that death was a loss of fellowship. Not only was the relationship damaged between them, more importantly, their relationship with God was severed. Sin causes divorce.
The apostle John wrote that when we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7). That’s not all, indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son (1:3). What blocks us from Trinitarian fellowship and joy? Sin. And we all sin, so we all stumble out of the light.
What can we do?
We can confess because we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (2:1). He will forgive us and cleanse us (1:9). But that’s not all He does. He repairs the broken relationship. Sin separates but the Savior restores and unites.
Because we sin so much, because we splinter our relationships so often, you’d think that we’d be quicker to our knees and that we’d be MVPs at confessing. But we don’t. We don’t because we’re more cozy in the dark. We’re too often content at a distance from God and from one another.
Our Lord’s day worship is important because we have opportunity to clean the palate by confessing our sins. Worship is also important because it gives us a strong taste of fellowship with God as well as the intoxicating joy of harmony as an assembly. As we learn to love togetherness like the Trinity, our eternal lives won’t be the same.
God has made humans to reflect him, but if they do not commit themselves to him, they will not reflect him but something else in creation. At the core of our beings we are imaging creatures. It is not possible to be neutral on this issue: we either reflect the Creator or something in creation.
—G.K. Beale, We Become What We Worship, 16
We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We live because He lives and we have eternal life because His Spirit breathed life into our souls. We rejoice in response to His initiating and effective grace.
Gospel is a one-word name for the New Covenant which is a two-word name for God’s eternal, Triune love story. From the first chapter to the last, the story is all about how He goes first. All things are from Him and then through Him and back to Him. Not only do we blow it when it is up to us, we don’t even have the brainwaves to know that we were blowing it or to care without God as antecedent.
Adam and Eve, with Adam representing all of humanity, ran and hid in shame after sinning. Adam’s sense of shame was a grace as God made man in His image; even conviction was something the pot was not entitled to. Adam did not draw near to God after he disobeyed. Adam did not seek forgiveness and reconciliation. He did not start preparing a sacrifice. Had not God gone and sought them, their bones would still be behind those bushes. God did not wait for them to cry out to Him.
Jesus did not wait for the Jews to cry out for Him. He clothed Himself with flesh to give life to the world (John 6:51), but not because the world wanted Him to. Jesus died on the cross, but not because we asked Him to. It wasn’t our idea, it wasn’t our petition. All we did was need Him to do.
The bread and the cup were prepared for us. Peter explained that Jesus was the spotless Lamb foreknown before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20). Through Him we are believers in God, who raised Christ from the dead and gave His Son glory, so that our faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:21). He did not wait for us to draw near. The Incarnation and Redemption were planned, initiated, and executed without our interest or input. Then He let us hear His voice calling. Now He invites us to come by faith and be filled because He came to seek and save the lost.
I returned home from Germany last night. Jesse and Maggie are married (twice actually, once by the city registrar in a 15th century courtroom and once by a preacher on a beautiful country farm). I stayed in Überlingen and below is a panorama of the view from our balcony that Jesse took with Autostitch. Click on the image for the full effect.