Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures. James 1:16-18
When Pam and I moved to St. Louis, even before all of our boxes were unpacked, we set up two bird feeders.
With our house sitting on the edge of a green belt, we were amazed and fascinated by the variety of birds that flocked in. There were nuthatches, doves, finches, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, and some I never was able to identify. They varied in appetite, size, pecking order, and color.
Yet, in spite of their differences, those birds had two things in common:
1. they all took for granted the food we were providing and
2. whenever anyone came out of the house, the birds all flew away in fear. Never once in all those years did a bird fly onto my shoulder, cock his head, and give me a chirp of appreciation.
Understand, we had never done anything to hurt them. We had never tried to bother them. We weren't going to stuff them or use them as a substitute for the Thanksgiving Day turkey.
Unfortunately, the birds couldn't understand that.
From what I've seen, it is not much different for the world's unbelievers. I say that because most of them act as if the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the life they lead, are all things which just magically sort of happen. These humans delude themselves into thinking they are the creators of their own destinies -- the providers of life's bounties -- the deciders of their future fate.
Whenever the Lord, the real Provider and Sustainer, gets close to them ... whenever a representative of the Triune God tries to speak to them, they panic, get defensive, do a lot squawking, and then fly for cover.
The Lord's attitude toward them has always been kind, benevolent and gracious. He certainly has shown no inclination to being uncaring, capricious or cruel to them. There is no reason for the flight of the unbeliever other than the fear and guilt that resides within his heart.
But for Christians, the nearness of the Lord ought to be a comforting and blessed thing. By the Holy Spirit's faith-creating work, Christians know they have Someone to whom they can give thanks. Christians know they have a God who, in the words of Luther, has given them "clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home ... everything they need to support this body and life."
And in the Person of Jesus, we have been given all we need to successfully enter the next life. Through Jesus' sacrifice and substitution, our sins are washed away and we are guaranteed eternal life in heaven. All that is left for us to do is "thank and praise, serve and obey Him."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, "Draw us to Thee, for then shall we walk in Thy steps forever. And hasten on where Thou art gone to be with Thee forever. Dear Savior, draw us to Thee, Lord, lovingly; let us depart with gladness that we may be forever free from sorrow, grief, and sadness. Draw us to Thee; oh, grant that we may walk the road to heaven! Direct our way lest we should stray and from Thy paths be driven." This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen. ("Draw Us to Thee," The Lutheran Hymnal, no. 215)
Check out Lutheran Hour Ministries' video sermon series, "Footsteps of Paul." Click here!
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries