Psalm 96:13 - [The LORD] comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in His faithfulness.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at LHM.org.
I was walking in a park with a friend. I'll call him "Craig." Five minutes into my walk with Craig, my new shoes started wearing blisters into my heels. They hurt so badly I couldn't concentrate on our conversation. So, I decided to take them off and walk barefoot—a decision I would regret for a week afterwards. Blisters on the soles of your feet are worse than blisters on your heels! I explained to Craig why I was taking my shoes off. And Craig, who is not a follower of Jesus, in that moment, did something very Christ-like. Although his sandals fit just fine, he slid them off and walked barefoot along with me, to match my pace.
Craig's action got me thinking. As I walk alongside him and other non-Christians in my life, maybe I should try to "match pace" with them? Sometimes, we are taught to do the opposite as Christians. Well-meaning, defenders of Christianity tell us that our faith out-paces the competition because we alone have certainty. We can be certain because our hope is based on God's Word. Everyone else's hope is based on man's word and, therefore, is uncertain. But, when I project that kind of certainty, it makes it difficult for me to slow down and match pace with an unbeliever. So, Craig's example helps me consider how I might do otherwise.
When I do that, I learn something important about the certainty of Christian hope. I learn that the certainty Christians have isn't always internal, psychological certainty, but external, outside of us—in Jesus and His promise. And walking with Jesus, Christians can echo the words of that man who said to the Lord, "I believe. Help me in my unbelief!" (see Mark 9:24). And for those Christians who are certain about their own psychological certainty, 1 Corinthians 10:12 has an appropriate warning: "Let anyone who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall." So, here's what I learn: as Christians, we can be honest with others about our doubts. We can shed the footwear of a false certainty. And match pace with others.
What is certain is that Jesus will come to judge the world, as Psalm 96 says. What remains to be seen is which side we'll find ourselves on. It is this double-conclusion to the journey, the possibility of either salvation or damnation still before us—that's what puts Christians on the same path as everyone else—somewhere between certainty and uncertainty. What makes Christians different is that we seek certainty, not inside ourselves, in our thoughts, feelings, or accomplishments, but rather, in a Person, God's Son. That means we take His warnings seriously. And we hold to His promise desperately.
Facing our final judgment, we hold to Him who came into the world to speak, do, suffer, and offer to everyone everything necessary for salvation.
If you are a follower of Jesus, or are considering becoming one, you shouldn't expect a life without doubt. In this life, Christians can't offer internal, psychological certainty. But neither can anyone else.
All we can offer is the faithfulness of God's Son, who walks with us. And Jesus promises, not just to shed His sandals and match your pace, but also His outer garment to wash your blistered feet. And He tells us to go and do likewise (see John 13:4-14).
WE PRAY: Dear Jesus, as You walk with me, help me to walk with others. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Read Psalm 96 aloud. How does the poet express confident hope in God's coming judgment?
2. Read Psalm 38 aloud. How does the poet express his fear and uncertainty?
3. Read Psalm 51:13-17 aloud. What is David's response to God's mercy in judgment?
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