The evolution of the Christian
March offers five Sunday services which essentially summarise the essence of the Christian journey from election to the return of Jesus, a kind of evolution.
The term evolution generally refers to a gradual process of development which extends over long periods of time, across generations and species. In classical Latin, evolutio first referred to the unrolling of a scroll. The English word “evolution” eventually came to be applied to the process of unrolling, unfolding, or opening. The life of a Christian must unfold too. There must be change and development! The human being, who is far from God, approaches Him and strives with all his being to become more like Jesus Christ, seeking eternal communion with God.
God grants grace to the sinner
“All—both the living and the dead—can come to the merciful God.” This is the message of the divine service for the departed. The focus of the sermon on this first Sunday in March is on the assurance that God always sends His help at the right time. God wants to save all of mankind, and this redemption is possible through belief in Jesus Christ. Jesus does not condemn. Jesus is the truth. He grants grace and peace. And Jesus holds God’s glory in store for us. Such knowledge creates peace and assurance.
Man gives Himself to God at baptism
Man hears and recognises this divine grace. He gives himself to God at baptism. Those who are baptised “die” with Jesus Christ and are called into a new life with Him. Baptism is the end of a life far away from God and the start of a new life in Christ. God ushers in a radical new beginning and creates a new creation through the rebirth out of water and Spirit: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5: 17).
Believers follow the example of Jesus
Being a Christian means following Jesus even in His suffering and death. This does not necessarily have anything to do with natural death. Rather it means that we have to give up something or do without something. “We must take time for the divine service, for prayer, and to occupy ourselves with the gospel,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider counsels. That also means putting off characteristics that are not consistent with the nature of Jesus Christ. “That is probably the most difficult thing of all to do,” the Chief Apostle adds. And from this follows the next task, something we do gladly and voluntarily: spreading the fire of the gospel and kindling it in other people, as Jesus did. Parents teach the gospel to their children, and Christians tell their neighbour about the gospel.
The new creature is developing
The image of the transfiguration of Jesus two thousand years ago is the basis for the divine service on the fourth Sunday in March. Peter, James, and John were troubled about the announcement of Jesus’ sufferings. God comforted them. In the transfiguration and the presence of Moses and Elijah they recognised the divine nature of Jesus. Believers today are exposed to afflictions and tests too. “The Holy Spirit comforts and strengthens us by revealing the glory of God to us,” the Chief Apostle says. In the divine services the Spirit of God allows us to recognise Jesus Christ; in the celebration of Holy Communion we have fellowship with the Lord.
Serving: the Christian way of following Christ’s example
“We follow the example of Jesus by placing ourselves at the service of our neighbour for his salvation.” The compassion of God, the rebirth out of water and Spirit, the development of the new creation … all this affects the thoughts, words, and actions of those who believe. They emulate their Lord and recognise that the neighbour deserves the same salvation as we do, that peace and unity are worth striving for, and that forgiveness is the top choice. The example of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet made people listen up then and still does so today. To this day it offers impulses on how believers should act.
The divine service theme in March offers many insights for engaged Christians.
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