What makes Christians so special?
Rev. Martin Schoenfeld, St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake
From time to time, we hear stories in the news about Christian leaders who have become involved in some type of scandal. The media loves to parade such examples before us.
On a more personal level, you may have observed other Christians and have seen how their lifestyle does not always match the Ten commandments. You may have heard the saying about how many hypocrites there are in the church.
At times like that, we may wonder what is it that makes Christians different from everyone else. Christians may, at times, treat others poorly, become arrested, or become involved in immoral acts. There are Christian people who have sinned by living together outside of marriage, having children out of wedlock, or even becoming involved in homosexual relationships. There have been Christians who have hurt others, cheated their neighbor, or let anger get the best of them.
Christians sin. They, too, experience troubles and sickness in life. Their families are not perfect, and they even die, like everyone else.
What makes Christians so special?
In Exodus 33:16, Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, asked a similar question: “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
When Christians sometimes seem to act just like everyone else, and have the same problems as everyone else, what is it that distinguishes them from other people?
In Exodus 33:14, God answers that question for us: “The Lord replied, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
The Lord God, Yahweh, traveled with His people. God was with the ancient Israelites as He led them out of slavery in Egypt. He was with His people when they traveled through the Red Sea.
God led His people by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He was with His people and He led them into the promised land.
The ancient people of God were not perfect. They made a golden calf and worshipped it. They followed the detestable practices of the nations around them and even participated in the worship of false gods. They became involved in immorality and cheated one another.
But these people were set apart. They were holy, because God traveled with them and declared them to be holy.
This bit of history brings us back to our question. What makes Christians so different and special? It is not that we are always perfect people. We, too, sin and break the commandments of God.
But what makes us so special is that God goes with us. God came to be with us in human flesh when Jesus, the Son of God, entered this world.
God was with us as Jesus taught with authority and performed miracles. He was with us as Jesus went to the cross to suffer and die for our sins and our failures of living according to the Ten Commandments.
Even now, after Jesus has risen from the dead, God is with us and promises us that when we believe in Him, He will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all the filth of this world.
Just as God was with the Hebrew people, and just as God was with the disciples of Jesus in human flesh, so God continues to be with us today. He is with us in His Word as it is recorded for us in the Bible. In the Bible, God speaks to us and give us many promises (John 3:16. Acts 16:31, 1 Corinthians 10:13).
God is also with us through the sacraments of baptism and communion. In Baptism, God comes to us through the water and grants to us His Holy Spirit so that we may believe in Jesus and be empowered to lead godly lives (Acts 2:38-39, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Romans 6:1-13). In communion, God is with us as we receive the body and blood of Christ shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:17-30).
As Christians in this imperfect world, we still sin we do not do everything right. But we have God with us. He has done everything perfect and right for us. Now, through faith alone in His life, suffering, death, and resurrection, we have the forgiveness of sins and the promise that God will be with us forever in heavenly glory.
Christians are not perfect people. They are forgiven people who have God travel with them wherever they may go on this earth.
It is just as Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
What makes Christians so special? The answer is that God journeys with us and grants to us His divine grace.