Pentecost 23A—November 16, 2014
1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
“CPS: Christ—Peace and Safety”
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bossier City, LA
INI + AMEN.
(1. Oops!: There’s no real source of peace and safety out there.)
Is there any real source of peace and safety in the world? Let’s be honest with ourselves as we consider this question. The world has all sorts of attempts at peace and safety: next eggs, bailouts, insurance, retirement accounts, government assistance. But let’s consider for ourselves, after all pagans will be pagans. What I mean by that is this: the world has a vested interest in such things because that’s the only peace and security they’ve got. But what about us. What sort of “peace and safety” do you look for in your life?
There’s job security. We look to our employment for some sort of security. But whose jobs are really as secure as they think they are? There’s health. But, then, of course we’re inundated with supplements, commercials: “…try talking to your doctor about” whatever it is, fill in the blank .” No matter which side of the aisle you’re on you’ve got the next leader who will lead us where we’re supposed to go as a state, country, or culture. There’s success. There’s our personality: our influence, our friends. There’s family. There’s even our churchiness. In Paul’s day there was the Roman Empire. The pax Romana—the peace the Roman empire offered—had a propaganda campaign, and it was “peace and safety!”
(2. Ugh!: Falling for them, we have worries for this life and the life to come.)
The pax Romana can’t offer peace and safety from the last day though. None of the other ways can actually give us peace and safety, but that doesn’t stop us from putting it there. We look for financial security. Are we saving enough? When can I retire? Will I be able to retire? Can I pay the bills? How long will I be in debt? We pine for financial security, but then there’s inflation, deflation, stock markets go down, economy struggles. But at least you’ve got your health. Until you don’t. There’s the test results. Does this doctor actually know what he’s doing? Do I need a second opinion? Will this work? How will I pay for it!?!
What about your family? Family’s a nice source of security until it isn’t. We move away. They move away. There’s struggles, arguments, things don’t work our right, the relationships aren’t going the way we want them to. Family isn’t around forever. Death. The great destabilizer. That’s the great end to peace and safety. What other stability can we find? Well, then there’s the church. We look for peace and security there, but what sort of stability are we looking for? The church is the one place where people should have their act together, the place where people will act right, think right, do right by everyone, right? This tends to not be Christianity but churchiness. This turns the church into something other than what it is: hospice that cares for sinners from infancy to grave. The church cares for sinners by bestowing Jesus and His forgiveness upon them. That’s the church: not some voluntary social club where everyone’s nice, but spiritual care for dying sinners.
But then there’s the ultimate source of peace and safety: ourselves. We look there first of all: our ideas, answers, and thoughts, what we do. We put our confidence in our right answers. If people would just do it my way, then magic would happen! That’s how we tend to think. “This wouldn’t have happened if they had just listened to me.” But what happens when it’s your idea that fails? “Can’t be that,” we think, “it must’ve been them!”
We fall in all these ways and more. We look for peace and safety all around us. But then our health fails. The doctors mess up, and doctors can only do so much for so long before we’ll just die anyway. Our families are broken in so many ways. Our jobs may not pay enough, and so we have worry about peace and safety, security in this life. What will tomorrow bring? “If only these people here in this church would act like…” And when it’s our own works: “Have I done enough?” “Did I do it all right?” “What if I screwed up, again?” “I’ve tried to make up for it, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough.” What worry we have in this life. What worry we have for the life to come! Judgment day comes “as a thief in the night.” We in our unbelief, doubt, and worry then think, “What will come on that day? What will the Lord say to me, when I’ve done…when I haven’t done…?”
So, what’s to be done? Where can we find peace and security? Peace and security now. Peace and security on the Last Day. We already have that peace and security because
3. Aha!: TRUE PEACE AND SECURITY COME FROM JESUS.
He is the source of peace and security. He is peace and security. This is why the church actually is a place of peace and security. But it’s a place of peace and security not necessarily because of who’s sitting next to you in the pew or who’s kneeling next to you at the communion rail. It’s a place of peace and security because of who’s here for each of us to deliver His own peace and security: Jesus. The church is a place of peace and security because Jesus is here! He is here with His Word as you sit in His pews. He is here with His body and blood for your peace and security as you kneel at His rail.
This is great news for us! Because His Word and and body and blood that Jesus delivers to us gives us the peace and security to know
4. Whee!: We’re not appointed for wrath but salvation.
That’s Paul’s comfort for us today! In spite of us “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” No wrath for you and me because of Jesus. We obtain salvation through Him. He died for us. He died and shed His blood for all our false peaces and false securities. Each one of them is as much a prop and solid ground as quicksand. Jesus dies and rises, and He then delivers that salvation, delivers that peace and security to us. Because of that we have peace whether we are awake or asleep. “We shall live with Him” that’s His promise to us. You’ve been baptized: your robes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, they are white. You receive the salvation won for you at communion with Jesus’ body and blood, and Jesus promises: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
(5. Yeah!: We’re comforted now and forever.)
Because of the lengths Jesus goes to to win our salvation—death itself—and the lengths He goes to to give that to us—weekly bringing His Word and body and blood to us—we have comfort both now and forever. No matter what props we’ve had that have given way. Our true prop hasn’t been. Though everything around is failing, has failed, is broken, is stress, is death, TRUE PEACE AND SECURITY COME FROM JESUS. He’s clothed us with Himself and so we have “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” The arrows and assaults of the devil, the world, and even our own consciences can’t ultimately harm us because these arrows bounce off such armor. And this armor is eternal armor and eternal life, eternal peace and eternal security because of Jesus. “Whether we are awake or asleep,” whether we live or die, whether we have struggles in this life or not, “we will live with him.” And then the promise from Revelation will be yours: “And He who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water.”
INI + AMEN.