One of the harshest truths of life in this world that we must face is that we are expendable.
Utterly expendable. That our life is but a brief set of moments, and life under the sun will continue on after us. That our works rare last, and as the generations pass, we will be forgotten. Maybe we might be a name in a book that most people could care less about.
And we fight against this idea. We like to pretend we are the heroes of grand struggles, that everything hinges upon us.
This is ego.
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I remember in the 90s when there was the big rise of the Church Growth Movement and such in the LCMS. We were good at spotting the ego then - the preachers who thought that the church, that their congregation would rise or fall with them and what they did. We decried the ego.
They said they had a plan for growth, and we shook our head.
They said that they had vital teaching that we needed to get on board with, and we search scriptures instead.
We instead clung to our first love - the Gospel of Christ Jesus. We commended things into His hands and were content to be simple preachers pointing to Jesus.
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I don't know what it was. Maybe it was President Obama getting elected and so many of us who had sheltered ourselves were shocked by what was public. For me - it's old hat. Caitlyn Jenner -- there were GLBT groups on campus when I was in college -- we all had heard "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed. It shouldn't have been surprising... but maybe the fact that folks would do their "thang" and we couldn't give them a dirty look and make them run away anymore scared folks. I simply wondered why we expected the world and the worldly to respect us or care what we thought.
Maybe it was when President Harrison got elected, and we thought that it's time - it's time to fix things, to make things the way we want them to be. We would build our great conservative, confessional church. We would build ourselves into a force to be reckoned with politically. We would stem the leaky tide of society... we. We would do this.
Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.
Was it fear? Was it "hope"?
What made us forget that we are expendable? What made us forget that we are here today and dust on the morrow? What made us forget that our only hope for anything beyond vanity lies not in anything, any improvement or blessing (no matter how great they are) "under the sun" - but our help is in the Name of the Lord? That... we are preparing to leave this life - that the mortal must put on immortality, the perishable the imperishable?
Because when you are simply looking at this life, Satan can lure you away. For things under this world, you don't *need* Jesus. Oh, He can be a rhetorical piece, He can be an example, a teacher, an expounder of traditional morals. The same way the liberals can say that He was a hippie who believed in free health care and feeding the poor. Under the Sun, we can spin the Jesus to our heart's content.
But if we look beyond this life - if we remember that short, short is this our earthly stay - then we need a different Jesus - the real Jesus, the Jesus shown in the Scriptures - the Lamb who has been slain. Christ and Him Crucified for our resurrection.
Go read Luther on Ecclesiastes - do it. It is a great reality check for every pastor - especially in this day and age when we have fallen prey to self-importance.
In this world, you are expendable. In Christ and in Him alone do you have life everlasting.