Several weeks ago I was in Paris, thoroughly enjoying my time. Away from the daily grind, I had time to take in the sights. That included a leisurely walk, time to think, when I came upon a scene I share with you. Looking up at the great steeple of St. Mary’s church, I noticed a lightning rod was affixed to the cross. That stopped me in my tracks. Don’t we hear about the sufficiency of faith in Jesus? If that’s true, why does this symbol of the church have a lightning rod? Are we hedging our bets? But then I thought of 1 Peter 4:17, “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God.”
There’s no lack of suffering in life, and sometimes it comes from nature. Sometimes the heavenly Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), but Hurricane Michael teaches in an awful way that sin has corrupted nature with devastating results.
Peter, however, isn’t talking about natural disasters. He’s talking about discrimination because you publicly confess Jesus. In “Clearly Christian,” soon to be released by Concordia Publishing House, Trevor Sutton teaches that Christianity is deeper than outward goodness. It is rather clear confession that each of us is so corrupted by sin that our only hope is a dramatic rescuer, the total grace of a Savior. Confessing that among people who think more highly of themselves than they ought will bring discrimination, even persecution. Jesus’ cross was and still is a lightning rod for the self-righteous.
Since judgment begins with us, daily repentance is in order. “It is impossible to hope in God unless one has despaired regarding all creatures and knows that nothing can profit oneself without God. Since there is no person who has this pure hope…and since we still place some confidence in the creature, it is clear that we must, because of impurity in all things, fear the judgment of God” (Heidelberg Disputation, Proof 11).
“Do we pass that cross unheeding, Breathing no repentant vow?
Though we see You wounded, bleeding, See your thorn-encircled brow?
Yet Your sinless death has brought us Life eternal, peace, and rest;
Only what Your grace has taught Calms the sinner’s deep distress.
(Lutheran Service Book, 423, 2).
You can have some deep thoughts walking in Paris, Illinois, or wherever you live.