Friday, December 24, 2010

More Igantius - The Imprtance of Speaking Christ

"But if anyone expounds Judaism to you, do not listen to him. For it is better to hear about Christianity from a man who is circumcised than about Judaism from one who is not. But if either of them fail to speak about Jesus Christ, I look on them as tombstones and graves of the dead, upon which only the names of men are inscribed." - Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians, 6.1

One of the great and common laments around Christmas time is about how the many distractions of the world seek to cover, hide, and obscure Christ. This is true - I doubt anyone will gainsay me on this. And as Christians we know that this is bad - that this, as every time is, is to be a time of focusing upon Christ Jesus and His salvation.

However, the world in its wickedness tries to ignore Christ. The world, not just at Christmas, promotes wickedness and vileness - year round. And there in, in this constant bombardment of evil, lies a two-fold danger for Christians. The first is that we can give into the ways of the world and fall away. That is bad.

But there is a second danger. When we see the wickedness, the vileness in the world, we can become so focused on combating wickedness, on attacking evil, on trying to defend morality that we lose our focus upon Christ. We end up playing to the tune the world pipes, rather than focusing on Christ.

Igantius drives home this point - you have a Judiazer and a Christian talking. Don't listen to the one, maybe the other, but if neither of them talk about Jesus - they are just tombs.

In our zeal for righteousness, we cannot forget or lose our focus on the righteousness of Christ. In our zeal for holiness, we cannot forget our lose our focus on the holiness of Christ. In our efforts to improve the world, we cannot forget that Christ came to win us deliverance out of this fallen world which will always hate us.

When you are lamenting the wickedness of the world - why do you lament it?

Because it harms you? So what of that - your salvation is won by Christ and you lack nothing.

Because people are becoming worse and worse? So what of that - do you think you will undo the fall, ever?

Because things you cherish are crumbling? So what of that - they are going to pass away in the fires that prepare the way for the New Heavens and the New Earth?

Because sin is bad and wicked? Indeed, it is - but is sin corrected and countered by Law or by the proclamation of Christ?

Because people need to be taught? Taught to what end - to be better people in this world, or to focus their eyes on Christ?

Because their sin harms my neighbor? That is laudible - indeed, love your neighbor. But you will never be able to protect your neighbor from all harm. Don't have that as your goal - rather, be prepared to aid him either by prevention or by care after sin has its impact. But even then, this isn't the primary reason we teach about sin.

Because sin obscures Christ -- ah, then and there, and only there, is opposition to sin in the world meet its full purpose. Sin obscures Christ, and we are to call people away from sin, not to better themselves, not to make things nicer for us, but we call out repentance for Christ and His Kingdom is at hand.

In all things our point, our goal, our focus must be to point to Christ Jesus, the savior from sin. If this is not the goal of your correction, then your correction is faulty. We are to be beacons pointing to Christ, so that people might see us and then see Christ.

Anything less is just a tombstone, and emblem of death, covered with the names of mere mortals. That is not our task - rather, proclaim the Name of Christ Jesus, True God and True Man, the very light of the world who is Life.

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