Walk humbly with your God – Jeremiah 31:33; Micah 6:8

But this is the Covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts and I will their God, and they shall be My People.   Jeremiah 31:33

In an article titled “Beware of men”, the warning which Jesus gave to his disciples [Matthew 10:17], the author pointed out that Jesus did not say, “Beware of evil men” but simply, “Beware of men”, which includes the good as well as the evil person.

That’s important because we naturally are suspicious of a truly evil person, male or female, while it is the person who appears generally good whom we often unquestioningly accept.  After all, the good person means well and can have the best of intentions – why should he be suspect?  She may have a big heart and is genuine in what she cares about – why should we be careful about someone who is so innocent?

But the Festival of the Reformation raises an important concern: is the Word of God and His will and His direction at the center of what is intended?  Our human nature is always in rebellion against God.  Oh, it isn’t always jumping around, screaming “unfair!” and carrying placards condemning the Lord’s commands.  Many times it is instead a passive resistance which doesn’t have much interest in what the Lord seeks in His creatures.

Recently a politician in the US was nobly declaring how he was trying to follow the words of Micah 6:8: “what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Those last three words, “with your God,” means that one walks in submission to God and His Will, rather than dictating to Him what He ought to require.  However this politician simply stopped at “and walk humbly.”  There is quite a difference there!  Without those three words, “humbly” can be defined in any way: it could be humbly before the highest contributors;  it could be humbly before the latest politically correct thought pattern; it could mean a moral lifestyle acceptable by everyone except God; “humbly” could mean just about anything under which he might submit himself.

It is precisely this kind of person we must beware of!  Because he may indeed be a good man, if he goes wrong, we aren’t looking and so don’t notice.  Suddenly we’re drifting from “walking humbly with your God.”  Beware of good men – they can more easily subtly foul us up than an evil one!

That is what happened to God’s Church throughout the Middle Ages.  Of course there were those who operated out of glory-seeking and greed, however there were also those with good intentions, who really wanted to do good things for God.  Popes and Councils, some of whom were sincerely well-meaning men – who, among the best of their intentions, really wanted to honor the Lord and help the Church – these men wreaked havoc within the doctrines and practices of the Church.  No one stopped long enough to find out what pleased God most, and therefore the Church was left a spiritual mess.

For instance, in the centuries after Christ, as the Church was spreading among what was called the “barbarians,” whole tribes would be baptized at the same time because their leaders were.  There were some tribes who as they went into the river to be baptized, held their right arms out of the water – because in this way, they could continue to kill and murder and so on with this unbaptized right arm.  So for the sake of impressive Church growth, just who ever called into question whether everybody truly understood what the Lord had in mind?

Then when Constantine became a Christian, he not only made Christianity legal, but it became fashionable to join the Emperor’s Church.  No longer was the threat of martyrdom demanding a true commitment of the heart, now they joined for the sake of prestige, or social climbing, or whatever the reason might be.

Within this context, the need for discipline would grow as a major problem: people who are not converted in the heart, and therefore have not that kind of love for the Lord, who are not “walking humbly with their God,” how do you get them to do what is right?

Gradually the Church changed Jesus’ role – instead of Savior of all life, He was withdrawn to only pre-baptism sins.  Good men in the Church, with the best of intentions, began to stress the idea of Christ as Judge after Baptism, Who with His perfect life could be a fearsome threat.  By Luther’s time, He was pictured as an unbending, angry, wrathful, punishing Critic.  Even with the Holy Spirit’s help, the believer was now responsible to produce a sinless changed life or else be punished for his sins.

For those individuals who do not want to order all regencygrandenursing.com buy generic levitra the time and find it easier when they make a bulk order. At first, one has to know it clearly that a person suffering from certain Sildamax disease have to rely upon pills because these disease are the outcome of body hormonal changes. This worry may be behind a mid-life crisis, and the horny goat weed solution is a lot of stress which is been faced by men all around the world. Stay in and continue talking to her. However, with Jesus taken out of being Savior of the whole of  life, something was needed to fill the vacuum after Baptism or else people would go crazy in despair.  So again, good men, with well-meaning ideas, figured that if one were to gain sympathy with Jesus, He’d listen to His own mother, as well as some of the other saints who were shown as special to the Lord.  And now the Church was on the road to Mary-worship and saint-worship leading all the way to the theological abuses of Luther’s time.  Thus the merits of the saints, relic worship, indulgences, and great many other traditions quickly took their place.  How greatly needed was for God to effect a Reformation.

People who mean well – good people, with the best of intentions – beware of them!  It doesn’t matter if it is the lowliest person in the congregation, or the big shot among the parishioners, or some official of the Church at large – every one of them will make mistakes, everyone of them will fall, everyone of them will create problems because of their good intentions – not all the time, but often just when you least expect it.  It can get pretty depressing that a pastor can be wrong, tradition can be wrong, theologians, experts – everybody can be wrong on a doctrine or some other faith-life instruction.

Inside the Church, people as mightily used by God as St. Paul and Martin Luther blew it sometimes.  Outside the Church, good men, with the best of intentions can louse things up, can really make a rotten mess of everything. Oh, the stories we could tell concerning the business world, the political world; life between husband and wife, parent and child, friend and friend – all the countless stories of well-meaning intentions which went wrong

No, we don’t have to look very far for that good person who meant well but still messed things up – only as far as ourselves.  How many times have you been the one who had to eat humble pie, as the saying goes!  How many times do you still kick yourself for some very foolish errors that you made despite your golden plans, perhaps ruining friendships in the process – the best of intentions that just backfired!

How come?  What goes wrong?  Well, it’s because we still carry around the flesh which is rebellious – as long as we walk this earth, sin mixes in with our good intentions, the depth of rebellion in our hearts is underestimated, overinflated plans omit our human limitations, perspectives are distorted by blind spots, anticipations are exaggerated by fantasies, all having the effect of ending up in the wrong direction from what God wants.  We may walk humbly, but too often it is plainly not “with your God.”

But that still leaves us with a problem right now: how do we keep ourselves in check so that our intentions don’t run away with themselves?  That can get pretty frightening when the next question inevitably is a “Well, then, what can we believe as a true source of God’s will?”

The Reformation directed the Church to what is unchangeable and far more reliable – something which goes beyond people, their traditions and their intentions.  We have the message of God Himself, His WORD, which He has watched over throughout the centuries, so at His message remains clear for those who seek it.

You couldn’t ask for anything better!  It has everything needed to discover the mind of God toward you, not only in this world, but also in the next.  True, there are many things the Bible doesn’t talk about – but it has everything important which you need.  It tells about what kinds of relationship you are to have with others – the way God wants them.  It contains the things you are to do as well as not do, to say as well as not say – and so much more than we have time here, concerning the mind and will of God.

But the Reformation also reminded us that God knows exactly how much we fail, or don’t even try, or when our intentions are all wrong.            And He does something wonderful about them – He adds His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.         Jesus – Who not only came to “walk humbly with our God” in our place, but also came to walk humbly with each of us, Who came not to be served but to serve and give His life for us.  Jesus Who came not desiring to condemn, but rather, when we repent, to take our sins, failures, intentions, and weaknesses – to remove them so far from us that God can’t even see them anymore, having covered them with His Blood; that every time you come to His forgiveness, you start fresh and clean – not you should, not you can, but that you do start absolutely fresh and clean, without even the shadow of a mark against you.

In the midst of all this, the Holy Spirit comes, that when we listen to Him, He will lead us to all truth, to hold before us all which God has spoken to us, founded upon the unchangeable Word, the Bible.  This is the one source that equips us like nothing else to determine what is God’s will – this and this alone.  It’s the only way we can grow – and it is placed into our hands.  It is the only way we can tell whether others are giving us merely the best of intentions or the actual message of God.  Therefore we are instructed to encourage one another, teach one another, correct one another – not with good intentions, but with the Word with which the Holy Spirit has equipped us, the Word now placed into our hands and hearts.

This is the reminder the Reformation holds for us.  After searching through the wilderness of good intentions – his own and the Church’s – Luther finally discovered the Bible, and began to base His doctrines on what God says, not on what man thought was best.  And something so small as nailing ninety-five theses on a church door exploded into a revolution that brought men back to God, out from all of man’s best of intentions. This is what God does when people get into His Word to discover His Will and His ways.  What kind of explosions can God do in your life, and in the life of this congregation, if we take seriously what God did with Luther?  Are we going to be  Lutherans in name only, or Lutherans in attitude, digging into God’s Word as Luther did to find the wonder and the riches of God displayed for us as we “walk humbly with our God”

Leave a Reply