“All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Therefore we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.”
As a child of the 1960’s I remember well the idealism that characterized much of that time. Words like ‘peace’ and ‘love’ were tossed around as if just saying them would bring them about. I remember tossing them around myself. But it didn’t work.The hollow fellowship of wishful thinking, adolescent impatience and naive utopianism broke on the rocks of a sterner and more enduring fellowship – the fellowship of sin.
The world doesn’t speak like this, of course. It wants to locate the source of human dysfunction in all kinds of explanations that are more amenable to our generous view of ourselves. Sociological, economic, political, psychological, historical, genetic, and other assessments are put in the service of these efforts to identify, explain and address the chronic human tendency to subvert what is good, innocent, righteous and blessed. Some of these efforts to explain ourselves to ourselves can produce positive results. Anything that serves to restrain the worst in us or advance what is good is worthy of our attention and effort.
At the same time the human being does not ultimately retain the right to let self-assessments be the last word. For we are not a law unto ourselves. The human creature draws its’ life and definition from the Living God. This should be so obvious to us that calling it second nature would be doing it an injustice. The fact that it is not only serves to illustrate in the most dramatic of terms how deeply disconnected we from God and how deeply connected we all are in the fellowship of sin. And given history’s ample witness to this fact, it appears that in spite of all our protests and dreaming we want to keep it this way. Or, at the very least, I want others to change. For they are the problem, not me.
God has made His assessment of the human condition; “All have sinned and fallen short…”. Under these circumstances, faced with a creature that has stolen its’ existence, what would you or I have done with this tiny planet, so insignificant and fraught with problems? It is hardly a necessity in the vastness of the universe. Who would miss it? One diverted asteroid would make an end of the whole business.
It is only against the backdrop of the enormity of this human dilemma, our willing bondage in this fractured fellowship, that the gift of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus Christ stands out in high relief. God has met our willfulness with a will of His own, His determination to have mercy on us, declaring us righteous before Him as gift, for the sake of Christ. And the peace and love that God brings through the Gospel are not empty words. For God gives Himself there in the promises of the Gospel, sealing those promises in the Sacraments. In Jesus Christ God unites His people in an authentic fellowship of peace that passes all reason and a love that plants itself firmly in the heart, just as once it was nailed firmly to a bloody Cross.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”