July 29, 2017
Acts 13:52 - And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
If you look through the Gospels, you will soon see Jesus didn't have a lot of patience with the group known as the Pharisees. Oh, Jesus never had trouble with their sincerity or their dedication to serving the Lord. His greatest difficulty with these pillars of the faith was their tendency to make up their own laws and then act as if those laws had come from the Lord.
Please don't be surprised if I tell you the Pharisees are alive and well and living in the church.
For example, did you know in the early 1900s some concerned Christians in Evanston, Illinois, decided the fizz in carbonated drinks was corrupting the young? A local law was passed forbidding the sale of ice cream sodas on Sunday. To get around the rule, the soda jerks left out the soda and put a topping on the ice cream instead.
This new taste treat, sold on Sunday, became known as a "Sunday."
People liked it so well, they asked for the treat on other days of the week. Later, so as not to identify a secular treat with the Lord's Day, the name was changed to sundae, that's spelled, s-u-n-d-a-e. Now look as you will, the Bible says nothing about the sinfulness of fizz or the corrupting influence of ice cream.
Now you may not remember those days, but there are many in The Lutheran Hour listenership who can recall when honoring the Sabbath Day meant no playing, no games, no entertainment, no smiling, no ... no nuthin'. Now how did God's day of rest and restoration become a day of dark despondency? Some folks pushing their sad non-celebration may have had the best of intentions, but the truth is they made up laws where God had only said, "Remember the Sabbath Day" (Exodus 20:8a).
Yes, we Christians can, and do, get carried away.
Maybe that's why many people look upon Christ's church as an organization which is governed primarily by a great, long list, overflowing with "Thou shalt do this" and "Thou shalt not do that." It is why so many outside the church think of us as being hypercritical, terribly intolerant, and unusually unkind. It is why so many unbelievers have concluded the church and her worship is sadness and not celebration.
Well, folks, I'm here to tell you that it shouldn't be that way. Look at the Bible and you will see those who had been forgiven and saved by the Redeemer were accused of being too joyful, happy, and powerfully positive. In the Bible it is the devil's people who are the grumps.
The truth is there are many churches which know they cannot make a single enhancement upon God's plan of salvation to save sinners. They know they cannot improve upon God's Word by adding to it nor can they fix it by taking things away. They preach the Word the best they can, carry each others' burdens as much as they can, and reflect the Savior's love as accurately as they can.
In short, they know Jesus is real and His love is real and His salvation is real and those are glad, good things.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the Gospel is Good News. Forgive those who would try to change it or think they can improve upon Your plan of salvation. Instead, let us rejoice in the wonders of Your grace and love which have saved us. This we ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries