"Neither Master nor Commander"
December 8, 2012
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15
The desire to be like God has been part of our race's sinful search since our first ancestors rebelled in the Garden of Eden.
In recent years there has been a new twist to man's disobedience. Today many people have come to believe we don't need a God at all. In the 18th century, William Henley, a British poet, wrote the poem "Invictus." In that poem, Henley boasted: "It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishment the scroll. I am the master of my fate! I am the captain of my soul!"
All this sounded very independent to the 18th century mind... and to the many millions of today who think they can declare their independence from God. Such folks would do well to look not just at the words, but at the life of the man who claimed to be both master and captain.
When death took Henley's 6-year-old daughter, Margaret, he was broken-hearted. His subsequent suicide proclaimed that he was neither master of his fate, nor captain of his soul. All too late, Henley discovered two great truths of life: there is a God, and William Henley wasn't God.
The most tragic part of the story is that Henley, along with so many others, never realized how much God loves us; how much He wants to save us.
So that we might be saved, God fulfilled the promise He made to our first ancestors when His Son was born in Bethlehem. The Christmas message says that although we can never be like God, God has become one of us. In love, Jesus has taken our place; He has carried our sins and endured our sorrows.
So, let me ask,
* Do you, know of someone who, like Henley, thinks of himself as being self-reliant and independent?
* Do you know of someone who thinks God is cruel and uncaring?
* Do you know someone who thinks the salvation story of Jesus is a myth?
If you do, this Advent season please encourage that individual to understand the Holy Spirit wants to take him to Bethlehem. There, in the manger, He wants everyone to see the Savior who has become every bit as human as we are, except He will never sin.
This Advent season I pray many self-confessed doubters may go and see this thing which has come to pass; that they may see Immanuel who was born to lift up those loaded with sorrows; to carry those crushed by sin, to befriend those who are deserted and alone. Immanuel, has come to be our Savior.
We should let Him be Master of our fates and Savior of our souls.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive my pride and bring me to an appreciation of the sacrifice You made for me and all of sinful humanity. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries