Isaiah 42:1 - (The LORD said) "Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations.."
Let me say it straightforwardly today: The Lutheran Hour and Lutheran Hour Ministries is not a political program. That doesn't mean there aren't important issues to be prayed about and voted on. That doesn't mean there aren't moral and ethical perspectives in the Bible that are God's commands and should inform our votes and public service. That statement merely speaks a clear biblical perspective that nothing in the world, outside of Jesus, will solve the big, important issues that need solving. Jesus is the only One who can speak clearly to all of us today and say, "Repent of your sin." And Jesus is the only One who can forgive your sin and mine because He paid the price of justice for our sinful rebellion against God. Even when the public ministry of Jesus, you know -- those pastors -- forgive people, or even when private Christians share Christ's forgiveness, we are all merely mouthpieces of God's grace, sharing His forgiveness in His stead and by His command.
So, today, with an election behind us in the United States, with a New Year celebration in the rearview mirror, the message for this moment -- for justice and peace that lasts -- is to put your faith in Jesus Christ alone. There is a cosmic dimension to the peace, justice and joy that Jesus brings that no leader, no country, no corporation or government can ever bring. In fact, our efforts always pale in comparison.
I saw this especially way back when on 9/11 in New York City. We had Bible studies Tuesdays on Wall Street and, ironically, 9/11 happened on a Tuesday. So, the message for many in NYC just a week earlier was that all was wonderful, blessed, and full of promise and peace. And yet, for many of those same people, the very next week was full of terror, destruction and the end of their way of life. I point this out merely to contrast that with the message we shared every Tuesday on the seventh floor of 9 Broad Street in downtown New York. It was a message about Christ, about His work, His justice, His grace. That was the same the week before 9/11 as it was the week after 9/11. For justice and peace and mercy that lasts, it cannot be a result of our works, our efforts, of merely our hopes and dreams. That kind of peace and justice and hope that lasts -- it only comes from God's work in this world.
Listen. As you venture out into the new year, yes, you have your hopes and dreams. Reach for the stars in all that you do, but most of all, seek to honor Jesus Christ in all you are and do. Strive for excellence in His Name, and whatever comes your way in the new year, it will be something you can handle, something you can rejoice in, something you can struggle through, all because you are Christ's person by faith. That makes all the difference. That's a way to live a week before 9/11, as well as a week after 9/11, as well as living today and beyond.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, give me wisdom to root my hopes and dreams -- even my desires for justice and peace -- in Your Word, Your work, Your Law, Your grace. Help me also to be a person of faith in You, in a world that never seems to get things right, even when we're doing our best. Amen!
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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