Strength revealed by suffering and death of the saviorPublished 9:05am Friday, July 26, 2013
Column: Across the Pastor’s Desk, by Don Rose, Mansfield and United Lutheran churches
This week vacation Bible students have been encouraged to stand strong as the people of God. This concept hinges upon the appropriate understanding of what it means to be strong in the Lord. Strength according to the standards of the world is often achieved through weapons and power and wealth. The more one has of any of these commodities the stronger one is supposed to be by the world’s measure. It is no wonder that it is difficult for young people as well as adults to understand that strength that is measured by God is measured in an entirely different way.
The young people learned to stand strong because the God in whom they trust and believe is the God of all creation who cares for them as a shepherd cares for the flock. They have also learned to stand strong with the help of others. They do not have to worry about asking for and accepting help because God’s children are part of a greater community. One can count on that community in good times and bad, and in that community one can stand strong. Strength is also found in prayer, in an intimate relationship with God that permeates all of life. Strength is found in the Bible, God’s word written for the generations.
Ultimately strength in the kingdom of God is revealed in the suffering and death of the savior. The very actions that the world thought would silence God’s voice in their midst turned out to be the actions by which God worked the salvation of the world. A suffering servant becomes the ultimate example of God’s strength that can overcome anything and everything in this world.
The lessons learned by the young people are lessons for everyone. The strength of this world does not provide the security or assurance that it promises. Using the world’s measure of strength people are always trying to acquire more of whatever it is that they believe will make them secure in this world. The more they devote themselves to acquiring the more isolated they become, removed from God as well as from their neighbors. Their lives are lived in fear that what they have will somehow be taken from them or that someone else will acquire more than they have. It become a never ending cycle of fear and insecurity and need for more.
Instead people are invited to find strength in what God has done for them already. Knowing that great and gracious gift, God’s people can stand strong knowing that they have all that they need in God’s love and forgiveness that frees them to love and forgive others with the same generosity that marks God’s actions in the world. Along with the young people, may every one be reminded to stand strong in and through the Lord, and the Lord alone.