The 21st Sunday after Pentecost (C)
Sermon Text: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
Peace be unto you from our Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ,
The letter was dated September 4, 1944. It does not have much on it, but then again, it didn’t have to. Its purpose was simply to leave some trace evidence… to let whoever found it know that the people listed on this note really existed… that they were there… at Auschwitz… in the Nazi concentration camp where over 1.1 million prisoners died.
The letter was found in a bottle hidden in a concrete wall. It bears the names, camp numbers and hometowns of seven young men, six from Poland and one from France, all between the ages of 18 and 20.
Clearly, there were those who never wanted this message to get out, but it did. It was proof of life.
In the same way, my friends… only on an infinitely greater scale… we find those who never want another message to get out… to stay out… out where it is heard… where it is known… where it is repeated and shared over and over again.
I am talking about the message of Jesus Christ… we are talking about the message of Jesus Christ… St. Paul, in our Epistle lesson, is talking about the message of Jesus Christ… that which we know as the Gospel of Christ… the Good News of the complete salvation we have in Christ our Savior, including forgiveness and life eternal… including the victory over sin, Satan and death.
Clearly, there were those who never wanted THIS message to get out, but it did and it is likewise “proof of life” … our life in the very Son of God, our life in Jesus.
We live in a world, a society and also a country that more and more seeks to suppress God’s Word and the truth found in it. They do not like it being said, spread… certainly not in public… not in schools, workplaces, any place people gather.
“Keep it to yourself” has been outcry for quite a few decades now. And if that was not bad enough, the movement out there is to disallow the truth of God’s Word from being preached and taught even in here… in our own Christian churches, in our own Christian homes and schools.
Why? Because the world and those of the world believe that it is wrong. The Word is wrong… Scripture is wrong. What is more they have come to believe that it is dangerous and destructive… that it… the Word and those who live by it are unloving, uncaring, intolerant, hateful and mean-spirited.
Just calling “sin” a “sin” is, in society’s reasoning, wrong on our part and it should not be. It should not be done. It is unkind and uncalled for.
Likewise sharing the truth about our one true God and that there are no other gods… the truth about honoring parents and those in authority… the truth about the sanctity of life… the truth about sex and sexuality… the truth about that which is perverted and sick… is wrong.
More and more, it is wrong to say these things in public and as previously mentioned, it is becoming more and more unacceptable and intolerable to say it, proclaim it and teach it “in private” if you will, in one’s own Christian church, home and school.
Oh, for sure, truly being a follower of Christ has always brought about public ridicule and scorn, not to mention being ostracized and in many ways, penalized. But such faithfulness to the Lord… to His Word… to His will and ways… is once again resulting in far greater forms of punishment and retribution.
I say “once again” because we see it happening at various times throughout human history and it was certainly the case in St. Paul’s day. Paul, in fact, is under arrest in Rome while he writes his second letter to Timothy, to his fellow pastor and brother in the faith. It will be, by all available evidence, the last letter He will write before dying for the faith. His incarceration directly due to his proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word.
But that’s ok. It is more than ok and this Apostle wants Timothy and all of us to know that. He tells all of us,
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (2 Timothy 2:8-10)
Try as the world might… as the prevailing society might… to stop the truth of God’s Word from getting out… from being effective… from bringing people to faith… from bringing peace, comfort, guidance and consolation to the masses, bestowing upon them forgiveness and salvation… it will not work. The sinful efforts of the world and Satan will not work.
Behold the unfettered Word of God… His “strong Word.” It cannot be bound. It will not be bound. It will accomplish what God has sent it out to do… to make disciples of all nations and to teach them, one and all, everything which the Lord our God lovingly shares with us here in Holy Scripture.
The Word endures my friends. It is always there for us. It will always be there… be here for us and for our children and we could not be more thankful for the same because it is our lifeline… it is our connection to the One who is the Lord of life, our Savior, Jesus Christ… He who is the Word Incarnate… the Word made flesh.
As He will never leave us, so too His Word will never leave us. It will certainly see us throughout our journey in this life to the greater life to come.
Take comfort, my friends. As the Scriptures say, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)” (Romans 10:8, Deuteronomy 30:14)
The Word by which, in which, through which, we live forever. The very Word of God which is, in itself, “proof of life.” Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“The Unfettered Word”
8/9/16 The Rev. Mark H. Hein
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL