Thursday, May 24, 2012
Just before my birthday this year, I came home to find a box sitting on a ledge on one side of the front porch. It contained some presents from my parents and they had written a smiley face on every side of the box. As I picked it off the ledge to bring into the house, the thought occurred to me; this box could easily have fallen off the ledge and perhaps never been found. It could have languished outside, smiley faces and all, and its intended purpose would have been in vain. How sad that would have been!
But because I brought it inside, it was safe and my parents hopes for it were realized when I opened it up and cherished its contents. I should also add that I kept the box, too, as a reminder of the hopes that God our heavenly Father has that we will benefit from the gift that He has given us in the form of the forgiveness of our sins and the ongoing communion with Him that is the supreme ‘gift that keeps on giving’.
Sadly, however, many today, who have also been redeemed by the blood of God’s Son, so that they could enjoy the gift of everlasting fellowship with Him, leave this gift neglected outside of their lives like that gift box left outside of my home. They may have noticed it in passing, but thought to themselves that they would deal with it at some later date. They leave God’s gift outside, in all weathers, ignoring His hopes, His smiles, and risking the loss of that gift altogether when the time comes when it is too late to retrieve it from its precarious position on a ledge somewhere outside of their lives. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock’, Jesus says to all whom He has redeemed (Rev. 3.20).
God’s gift of fellowship with Him, Communion and Participation in His life is not a one-time thing, like a box that we open once and then discard. Partaking of eternal life is something that God is ever-hopeful that we will continue to do throughout our earthly lives and forever after. In that way we will not only be ‘saved’, but safe.
By all means, ‘open the box’, but do not throw away the box. Yes, you have been ‘saved’ by God, but you must take steps to keep the faith that God has given you by His grace. He has called and enlightened you, just as Luther says ‘he called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true’.
And that which keeps us all in the one true faith is participation, fellowship (koinonia) with God that comes with a living connection to the life of Christ, by His word, His sacraments and His Church. The Church is the context in which God ‘forgives daily and richly all sins’. ‘Be all be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure’, writes St. Peter (2 Peter 1.10). Don’t leave the box on the porch. Take it in to your life for only then will you fully enjoy its contents and only in ongoing fellowship with God will His hopes and investment in you be realized.