It has been a challenging week. As a pastor in the ELCA I followed closely as our wider church assembly debated and decided upon some difficult issues regarding human sexuality. The 1500 voting delegates were tasked with discerning how to voice (and vote) the opinion of a church body of 4 million people. Now, in response to the vote (which allows for the church to bless committed same sex unions and ordain clergy in committed, life-long same-sex relationships) the response from the wider church body has been everything from dancing in the streets to weeping in great sorrow. There are those who have declared this vote to be evidence of Spirit’s wind moving in God’s people while others have declared an ill-timed tornado outside the convention hall (where the assembly had gathered) to be the wind of the Spirit blowing in a very different way.
This morning I woke to two things. 1) My 2-year-old son singing “Glory to God forever…” at the top of his lungs and 2) this passage from 1 Corinthians.
My prayer is that every day might begin with the words my son sings with such abandon. Today and always… from the very depths of who I am, may I declare the glory of God not only with my words but as Paul describes here in 1 Corinthians as a servant of Christ entrusted with the mysteries that God has revealed. May I prove myself faithful by the way that I live my life… because how I live my life serves as a witness to those who have not yet come to know Jesus. This past week there was a lot of civil discussion and conversation in the midst of disagreement (and thankfully much of that continues because despite the decisions made, this is not a closed book), but there was also grandstanding, name calling, arrogance and judgement on all sides of the issue. It is my prayer that as much as we try to represent Christ in our faithfulness to scripture (which has been the primary launching point for arguments from all sides of the issue… the disagreement largely comes down to how we differ in the way we read and interpret scripture) we also try to represent Christ with the same vigor in the way we treat each other in our disagreement.
In all, I find great comfort in what Paul reminds us at the end of verse 4… it is the Lord who judges us, because the Lord’s justice is unfair. If it were “fair” we would all be in a heap of trouble, but in the Lord’s judgement we get the furthest thing from what we deserve. Despite our obvious guilt (we have all fallen short), in the Lord’s judgement we are declared innocent… not by anything we can do ourselves… not by our good behavior or by how we represent Christ in the world. Those things might, as Paul says, keep our conscience clear, but our innocence has been declared by the Lord through what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
Glory to God forever!!!