From Pastor’s Desk: October 2021
CHURCH – DRESS UP… I am reminded of a few things when the month of October rolls in. The change of weather and the fall colors. With the change of colors on our trees comes our deep praise and adoration for God’s amazing creation. The words of the Psalmist in Psalm 8 make us stand in awe of the Creator – the One who spoke into being everything we see and experience and that out of nothing (ex nihilo).
Hebrews 11 is often referred to as “Faith Hall of Fame.” These were ordinary people who did some extraordinary things with the power of God. They stood up for something even when their life was in jeopardy. The author of Hebrews in the very end of this chapter quotes a list of names and in it he includes Rahab, the only woman outside of the covenant to be mentioned. If you carefully read the names, you will see that they were ordinary people, yet you see God redeeming them in the midst of their weak and broken selves.
We are certainly reminded about Reformation when we are ushered into the month of October. On October 31st of every year, the Protestant church celebrates Reformation. While speaking to a friend, who is catholic, he simply reminded me that Reformation is not favorably viewed within the Roman Catholic church. He jokingly says that we protested and hence, referred to as Protestants. Let me refresh your memory, Reformation reminds us of three things, Scripture Alone, (in other words, Sola Scriptura) Grace Alone (Sola Gratia) and Faith Alone (Sola Fidei).
“Sola scriptura meant Scripture was the supreme authority over the church. It did not mean Scripture was the only authority. Luther, Calvin, and the other reformers used other authorities like reason and tradition. Sola scriptura also means the sufficiency of scriptures. The third element is the one I liked; sola scriptura is the clarity of Scripture. This meant that every believer could read the scripture for themselves and understand God’s plan of salvation. The scriptures are no more in the sole possession of the clergy but also in the hands of the lay people in the church.
With regard to Sola Gratia, we are simply reminded that every individual is redeemed by grace alone. It is not what we can do for ourselves but what Christ has achieved on our behalf and we are simply to appropriate that in our lives. Grace is the single most important word in all of scriptures and also the one that is widely misunderstood. In the words of the famous theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “grace is free, but it is not cheap.” We are redeemed by the grace of God, but this was achieved by the costly death of His son.
Faith alone or Sola Fidei solely rests on the idea of the object of our faith. I like what this blogger says, “Faith is only as good as its object. This is the danger of misunderstanding Sola Fide: that we would focus on faith in and of itself, and forget about the object of faith. We would then spend all our time talking about our faith, bragging about our faith, and worrying about the strength of our faith, all the while forgetting about the One in whom we have faith: Jesus Christ.”2 Abraham, the scripture says, believed and it was counted as righteousness. He believed in the One who made the promise. It is the object of Abraham’s faith that makes it special. In spite of all the odds that Abraham faced, he believed in he one who is able to keep the promise.
Having said all of that, this is what I want to impress on you as you enter the month of October. We cannot ignore the fact that in this country and even all over the world, Halloween (All Hallows Eve) is celebrated with such passion and vigor. I am not so much concerned about the decorations outside the houses in your neighborhoods, I am focused on the things that we clothe ourselves or the money we spend on the costumes.
Costumes and masks, which is so central to this celebration is a reminder that we hide our true selves behind these paraphernalia. We put up a face or an identity that does not really express who we really are. It is easy for us to do this than to be true to the way God has designed and created us. It is no wonder that the apostle Paul says to the church in Colossae “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col 3:12-15). These are true virtues, which everyone of us must earnestly desire. We must make every effort to passionately pursue these noble qualities.
You are a people “called out” (holy) by God and so we must clothe ourselves with all the amazing qualities that God has endowed in us. The Fall and the sin have marred the image of God in us but it has not taken that image of God away from us. We are once again restored by the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So as a church and as believers, let us clothe ourselves or in our common lingo, dress up..
Happy Dressing Up,