Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wisdom: The Body of Believers

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
- Proverbs 18:1

Who doesn’t like a little alone time? Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, to have some peace and quiet. It’s important to take some time alone with your own thoughts. But can this good gift of solitary silence be misused? Can it become a dangerous idol that tears us away from the One True God?

In our culture and society there has always been a romantic view of the solitary figure. Americans like to think of themselves as self-sufficient islands anchored to the ever changing and developing surrounding culture. This attitude is especially true in Christianity.

You’ve heard the excuse, and maybe have even used it yourself. “I am closer to God when I’m out on my fishing boat.” “I’m closer to God when I’m working in my garden.” These are just a couple of a thousand different excuses that basically say the same thing: It’s just me and Jesus!

This same excuse is also used when people come up against the Biblical teaching of closed communion. The outrage is evident in people’s arguments. “How dare you tell me I can’t commune! This is something that is between me and Jesus!”

But, does Wisdom support that individual idealism? Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire…This is not rugged individualism but rather self-indulgent immaturity. This attitude flies in the face of the communion of saints. This attitude tears apart the body of Christ found in His Church. This attitude breaks out against all sound judgment.

Why is it wise to be in communion and fellowship with other believers? And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

There are certainly times in which solitary meditation on the Word of God and in prayer are helpful. However, our faith is NOT a private, individual matter. If we isolate ourselves from the Body of Believers we will soon perish. If we isolate ourselves from the congregation and the pastor, we will soon find ourselves swept away in the current of the self-centered, individualistic waters of destruction.

We who have been baptized in the waters in the name of the Holy Trinity have been gathered together by the Holy Spirit. It is in that gathering that we are strengthened with the Word and Sacraments, which assures us above and beyond what we can ever know on our own. That is, that we are forgiven of all of our sins in and through Jesus Christ.

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I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church he daily and abundantly forgives all my sins, and the sins of all believers, and on the last day he will raise me and all the dead and will grant eternal life to me and to all who believe in Christ. This is most certainly true.*
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*Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959).
The book of concord :
The confessions of the evangelical Lutheran church
(The Small Catechism: II, 6).
Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

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