Making the invisible visible
Divine salvation is invisible. Christians, however, are to make it visible through their prayers and their faith so that people can recognize salvation. Chief Apostle Schneider invited the congregations to take part in this.
On Sunday, 26 June 2016, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider celebrated a divine service in Chişinău in Moldova. It was the second service on his trip to this south-east European country. Chişinău is the country’s capital, and 236 people gathered for the service. The Chief Apostle used a Bible text from the Old Testament: “And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” (Exodus 17: 11−12).
Fight evil and triumph with Christ
Israel’s fight against Amalek is an image of our own struggle against evil, the Chief Apostle explained. “No one can fight this battle for us. Each of us has to fight his or her own battle of faith.” However, we cannot gain the victory by ourselves. “We are completely dependent on Christ; the victory comes from Him.”
While the fighting was going on, Israel prevailed when Moses’ staff was visible. This staff is an image for three distinct signs:
- the sign of having been called by God. Already before the battle, God demonstrated His power to Pharaoh and the people of Israel by turning the staff into a snake.
- the sign of having been delivered by God. During the people’s flight from Egypt, Moses held out his staff and the waters of the Red Sea parted so that they could go through.
- the sign of the presence and care of God. During their trek through the wilderness, Moses used the staff to strike the rock, and water gushed out for the people to drink.
During the fighting, Moses had to hold up the staff. “While they were fighting, Israel was to be reminded: you are not here because you wanted to be here. You are here because I called you. I am the almighty God; it was I who saved you from the enemy. I am present and I provide for you.”
Assurance in the fight against evil
The same applies to the faithful today: “Let us draw strength out of our faith, our faith in Jesus Christ. We are struggling because Jesus has called us to fight this battle. Jesus told us: ‘Leave the world and fight against evil!’” We have not only been given the commission to fight but also the corresponding assurances: “We believe that Jesus Christ is present in His work, that He always provides for us, and that He gives us the strength we need to gain the victory through His word and the sacraments.”
The struggle for divine salvation
The battle against the Amalekites could also be regarded as an image for the struggle that all people have in order to attain salvation. Jesus sent His Apostles so that they could
- teach mankind to reconcile with God: “Reconcile yourselves with God! Leave the world behind and come to Me!”
- proclaim the victory of Christ: “Jesus has died for us. He will redeem us.”
- reveal the presence of Christ in His church and dispense the divine gifts: “The Apostles also proclaim: Jesus Christ is present in His church and provides the strength you need to gain the victory.”
“The Apostles cannot do this work by themselves, however. We have to support them, like Aaron and Hur supported Moses. This applies to the whole congregation; all are asked to help along,” the Chief Apostle said. Invisible things become visible when the faithful
- recognize a soul in their neighbour whom God wants to save: “Even if we are dealing with a bad person we should not forget that Jesus Christ wants to save him too; He died for him too.”
- believe in the victory of Christ: “We do not take orders from the evil one. We only take orders from Jesus Christ. He is the strongest, and this should be reflected in our nature.”
- seek fellowship in divine service: “People have to notice the transformation that takes place in those who go to church regularly. This is a sign that something has happened: they have had an encounter with the Lord.”
“It is our job to pray for our fellow human beings and the souls in the beyond. In every person, in every soul we recognize someone whom Jesus Christ wants to save—and this is how we treat them,” Chief Apostle Schneider said in conclusion.