When putting your feet up is a bad thing…

Having gotten justifiably indignant earlier today about a conversation I had regarding the Lord’s Supper, I was all prepared to write a post of the efficacy of the Sacrament.  I was reading in Luther’s Large Catechism when I came across an interesting passage, and felt the need to share.  So I figured I’d let my head cool a little while discussing a different topic.  But, never fret, we will have discussion on The Sacrament of the Altar soon, for it is a topic that requires regular treatment.  But I digress…

Luther says in his Large Catechism, in Part V:  The Sacrament of the Altar:

“Therefore, the Sacrament is given as a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself [Psalm 23:1-3] so that it will not to fall back in such a battle, but become ever stronger and stronger.  The new life must be guided so that it continually increases and progresses.  But it must suffer much opposition.  For the devil is such a furious enemy.  When he sees that we oppose him and attack the old man, and that he cannot topple us over by force, he prowls and moves about on all sides [1 Peter 5:8]  He tries every trick and does not stop until he finally wears us out, so that we either renounce our faith or throw up our hands and put up our feet, becoming indifferent or impatient. Now to this purpose the comfort of the Sacrament is given when the heart feels that the burden is becoming too heavy, so that it may gain here new power and refreshment.” – Concordia:  The Lutheran Confessions, ed. Paul Timothy McCain.

It is this phrase “throw up our hands and put up our feet, becoming indifferent or impatient” that caught my eye the most.  How true is this when thinking about service for the Church?!  How many times have we all felt this way?  We are put off by the slowness of our congregations, or the lack of “getting things done,” and we choose to ignore the problem.  Or we walk away and say to ourselves, “Let somebody else worry about it, I’m done!”  We become agitated or aggrieved by our congregation’s actions, the decision at a Voters’ Meeting, or upset about the discussion with members of a Board on which we serve.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Luther mentions this verse specifically.  But what if the lion is not roaring and gnashing his teeth?  Instead, what if he is just slowing, quietly, chewing our leg off?  (Happy metaphor, I know…)  Seriously, though, why must Satan always seek to tear us limb from limb, when he can softly extinguish our faith with the breath of indifference and unattentiveness, like blowing out a candle?

This is why faithful attendance on Sunday morning is so important.  The burning flame of faith can only be brightened and strengthened by God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit working through the Word.  Regularly receiving the Lord’s Supper strengthens faith and forgives sins.  It builds us up to fight off the devil’s efforts, whether like the lion or the wind.  It keeps us steadfast in our faith so that indifference or impatience cannot take root.  Isn’t it interesting that the thing which makes the membership of a church function most successfully (faith) is the thing the church comes together to build in the membership, through the power of that which built the church in the first place (God and His Word)?  Let that one soak in for a while…

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