Saturday, September 20, 2014
Homily for LWML Mid-Hudson Zone Rally
Luke 24:44-53; Romans 10:11-17; Isaiah 62:1-7
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
True evangelism is always done in love – love for God, and love for God’s people. The prophet Isaiah gives us a beautiful example – A young bridegroom rejoicing over his bride. His delight is in her. He is thankful for her. He loves her so that he cannot but speak of her to everyone he meets. Often he does not think about it at all, but his love for his bride bubbles out of him like water from a live spring.
Such was the love Isaiah had for Zion – for Jerusalem, as she appeared before God’s eyes as a radiant bride. “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,” says the prophet; “and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.” Now, to be sure, the people of Jerusalem were not always loveable, they were not always righteous or faithful. But the prophet loved her anyway, because the LORD loved her and intended to do what was necessary to restore to her a good name in place of the tarnished name she had earned for herself, and to make her radiant before the eyes of all, as she was truly radiant before the eyes of the LORD who loved her.
That is how you must view others, those who do not know the Lord as you do – you must love them as God’s people, you must love them as His Bride, even when she acts the whore and denies Him, dishonors Him, is unfaithful to Him, and feigns not to know Him at all. For, those people, those souls, they are not numbers to be counted, they are not victories to be won, they are not numbered as notches on your bedpost as you attempt to be “soul-winners” for Christ. But, they are the God’s prodigal children, they are His lost sheep, and they are His harlot Bride. The LORD has already accomplished all that is necessary to restore Her, to renew Her, and to save Her – that is the Evangel, the Gospel, the Good News! Therefore, evangelism is not saving the lost so much as it is proclaiming to the lost that they are not lost at all, but that they are found and saved by God in Jesus Christ!
This is the good news that Isaiah will not keep silent about. And you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, must not keep silent about it either. The LORD says that all who call on His Name will be saved. “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”
And so the LORD sends you. No, you are not Apostles, you are not prophets, you are not pastors, but you are something very, very special, dear to the LORD, and important – you are priests, the priesthood of all believers. And what do priests do but make sacrifice and intercession. The first and greatest sacrifice you make is yourself: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite hear, O God, you will not despise.” “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Yet, as St. Paul teaches, nothing you do counts for anything at all if it is not performed in love: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, and if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. And our Lord Jesus Himself teaches that the greatest love possible is to sacrifice yourself for others, to love others as you have been loved, which means to love others more than you love yourself.
And so, again, true evangelism is done, and can only be done, in love. But, as you have been loved, so are you equipped and sent to love. For, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Even more than His people, you are His Bride. Christ Jesus, your Adam, your Bridegroom, was laid down in the sleep of death for you. His side was opened that you might be born of water, blood, and Spirit. You are His Eve, His Bride. As He has loved you and laid down His life for you, so are you equipped to lay down your life for others, loving them as you have been richly loved.
This must be the motivation for evangelism – love for God, and the love of Christ with which you are loved and with which you love others. In this way, like Isaiah, you may love the unlovable, as the unlovable have been lovingly loved. True evangelism flows from the LORD through Christ to His Bride into the world and back to Him. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Love was, and is still, the only motivation. Go, tell the Good News of what the LORD has done. Tell the Good News in love, with love, in word and deed. For Zion’s sake, do not keep silent. For Jerusalem’s sake, do not keep quiet “until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.”
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.