INI + AMEN.
The world likes to tell us that Christianity is all about peace and love—full acceptance and praise of everyone no matter what they do, say, or choose. That’s what JESUS taught—the thinking goes. Maybe we get lulled into that sort of thinking too, but then Jesus says this: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Wait, come again? Now we should certainly love everyone, treat everyone in love, as JESUS has done for you, but, you see, faith in JESUS divides. It’s a razor’s edge: you either believe and trust that Jesus is God, and He saved you by His death and resurrection; or…you don’t. There’s no middle ground. There are those who trust that JESUS is God and died for them, and there are those who don’t. Just like we heard in Jeremiah, there are those who proclaim Yahweh’s Word, and those who don’t.
Now, full and free forgiveness for JESUS’ sake brings division. That’s what JESUS says. Why? The world loves it’s own and hates those not of the world and all that—like JESUS said. But another way of looking at this division, dear Christian, is that you’ve been chosen, elected, set apart. JESUS is the one who does it. Now, don’t get me wrong; it’s division, but
JESUS SETS YOU APART THROUGH HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION.
Now, if JESUS SETS YOU APART THROUGH HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION, what are you set apart from. Well, you’re set apart from the world, and that means two things: cross and salvation.
((I. You’re set apart from the world—cross.))
When it comes to being set apart from the world, that means cross for you. It’s a difficult thing to bear. Faith in JESUS, the true, living, and eternal God, who’s died and risen, makes you at odds with the world. You see, we believe that JESUS didn’t just speak only the red letters in the Gospels. He spoke in the Old Testament. The Son is the Word, and the Word created all things, appeared to the prophets (like we heard in Jeremiah). He says certain things are sin. Why? So that those who believe in Him can proclaim how much better we are than others? How we, well, sin, but not like that! No, He proclaims things are sin and that He saves us from such things. He calls us to live in Him, to be defined by Him, to love with His love, forgiving and being forgiven. The world can’t stand such a preaching, such a Savior. “Who needs a Savior?” the world says, for as long as you’re a good person you’re right with God. The idea that things are sin is offensive and that God died to save us from them is ridiculous.
But the burden isn’t just in the world. It’s in the home too. That’s what JESUS says. “Three against two and two against three.” It’s heart breaking. We could take the division in the world, but in the home? Now, that’s almost indescribably hard.
((II. You’re set apart from the world—salvation.)
But dear Christian, you haven’t just been set apart from the world only to bear that cross and burden. JESUS loves you…dearly. He died for you and rose for you. You see His love there. And He’s set you apart from the world, and that means salvation FOR YOU! For you’ve been rescued from the world. He was scorned by the world, rejected, despised, crucified FOR YOU. He conquered the world there. He defeated the devil. As JESUS says in John, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” The fire is kindled against HIM, and in that fire of crucifixion the world is undone. His Baptism is His death, but also His resurrection! Not just His, but yours! His death and resurrection is your baptism too. For in your baptism JESUS drew you out of the world. In the waters of Baptism JESUS gives you His death and resurrection. They’re yours! His love, His victory, His salvation isn’t just seen there, but it’s delivered there. Through Baptism Jesus placed you into His family. He gave you the Holy Spirit. You can pray to the Father for the two and for the three. Now you even have brothers and sisters in the faith. As Jesus says elsewhere, that there is no one who follows Him “who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
This, my friends, is what you proclaim to the three or the two or the one: that the fact of the matter is this: JESUS is risen from the dead for them. He died for them. He’s baptized them. He’s set them apart for Himself because He loves them. He drew them from the world and presents them to the Father. He does this through His death and resurrection, His baptism. Not just on Calvary, but delivered to them in the Font. The Spirit will still work on them. We commend them to our loving Father, who loves all in the sending of His Son, JESUS, who bestows the Spirit who creates and sustains faith. For even though when JESUS sets you apart there’s division on the earth, there’s also peace with the Father. And He’s continually seeking peace with all people through the message that JESUS has died and is now risen from the dead and lives forever and ever. You’re in Him. Set apart. Now and forever.
INI + AMEN.