Pr. Eric J. Swensson
April 17, 2012
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” I Peter 9-10
“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.” Psalm 107:2
Basic to the spiritual practices of the evangelical Christian life is the concept of “proclaiming the praises”. The evangelische church’s health lies in its members proclaiming their praises. An ambiguous faith has nothing to praise, nothing to proclaim. As we support each other in the faith and urge each other on, we can be confident not only in our own salvation, but that our church shall prosper as well.
We are members of a community of faith, congregations which are not isolated but part of an evangelical tradition within a larger catholic community which transcends time back to the apostles in one direction and toward eternity in the other. Your faith journey is on that map, not a Facebook timeline.
Unless I am terribly wrong, masses and masses of people are wandering in the wilderness. If we are to be of any use to anyone, we need to reexamine our basis for spiritual formation, and an alternative suggested here is to add the individual’s testimony to the spiritual practices of Bible reading, prayer, worship and serving your neighbor.
It is not enough to teach someone various prayer practices. Everyone prays after a fashion. In frightful emergencies and expectations of the lottery, people pray. We may pray l-o-n-g prayers or hardly at all, but praying is as natural as asking for water when thirsty. No, it is all important to know to whom one prays, which is why we need to be sure to pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and be aware of the division of work. More than that, if we are to be formed as a people on the way and a Lutheran remnant at that, we must be re-formed and this can best be done by God through prayer. But people pray from some center and I am suggesting here that it is done from an evangelical center, a certainty born and nourished in testifying praise that God is fixed upon the winning of souls, even the whole world.
If one pairs the verses above (“proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” and “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.”) Perhaps this emphasis of evangelical spirituality can be seen for its practical as well as spiritual worth. Let everyone think about their own testimony. Many Christians are wandering around lost while discussing amongst themselves the best way to read a compass. We overlook that for the most part we do not seem to know how to give a testimony or proclaim any praise unless it is printed in a hymnbook or projected on a screen. If we think that proclamation is only for the preacher, it is someone else’s job when it is to be the duty and delight of each one. If evangelism is only for a few who have discerned the gift, it is always someone else’s job, a job that never gets done.
No, this task is all of ours, our calling as Christians. Your vocation. You are a chosen priesthood. You proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. You.
Yes, we proclaim His praises when we sing with the great congregation. We proclaim the truth when we say “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” And we know the last words of the liturgy, “Go forth and serve.” Part of that service is to give a verbal witness to what God has done, is doing and will do for those who have yet to know liberation through redemption. We are of course in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves, but perhaps one needs to ask themselves at this point if they know if they are free in Christ or not. Have you been saved? From sin, death, and the devil? From doubts? Fears? If so, say so. You were bought with a price. Chosen, precious in His sight.
Christ will come again, we are sent forth to serve and until we understand these words fully and see how God does use us for God’s work, our hands will always be set to a hundred other tasks. The full gospel will be apprehended when we see each member involved in God’s plan to redeem the whole world, every knee bending and every tongue confessing.
Realizing that this is nothing new, this is even part of the idea of the common priesthood received from Luther, we are ready to begin again. Seeing immediately our great unworthiness and our immense need, we are ready for the journey.