Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Assured (Romans 8.31-39)

Daily Lenten Reflection - Saturday, 18 March 2017

Week 3: Salvation—Not for Sale

Week 3, Day 7

The Morning Blessing, “The Small Catechism,” Martin Luther

I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all harm and danger. I ask that you would also protect me today from sin and all evil, so that my life and actions may please you. Into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Assured (Romans 8.31-39)

“Stephanie,” Anglican, Australia

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

In Central Asia, I seem to live in a world of assurance. My friends constantly assure me that Jesus did not die; they assure me that he is not the Son of God; they assure me that God’s forgiveness is free, not requiring a sacrifice; and they assure me that no one can know God’s mind and be sure of God’s continued favor. Where does that leave me as a Christian?

I had a terrifying experience early on in my time in Central Asia. I woke up suddenly one night at 2 a.m. It was as if the world had suddenly come into focus and I could see the truth: everything I believed in was a lie. Jesus could not possibly be God. It was all a conspiracy. Every part of Christianity was lie. It was pure tradition; no truth. Of course no one had been so bold as to declare this to me, but completely immersed in my Muslim context, it had seeped in under my skin in a dozen little ways. At that moment, I felt that my world was falling apart. I desperately wanted to believe in Jesus, but I could not continue to participate in a lie. Where was my promised assurance?

I vaguely recalled a pastor once saying that the entirety of the Christian faith hangs on 1 Corinthians 15. Indeed, if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith. And so I turned to 1 Corinthians 15 and read and reread time and again the evidence for, and defense of the resurrection. In God’s kindness, the internet was working and a godly sister was there via Skype to talk me through it and pray with me. Gradually, the darkness receded and I went back to sleep.

I woke up the next morning, able to recognize the episode for what it was: a spiritual attack. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief that God had brought me through it, and an abiding thankfulness that God had clung to me when I had no faith of my own. For truly there is no power that can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Assurance indeed!

“On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee has compiled a collection of Lenten reflections to commemorate the anniversary. The text can be used by small groups or individual, as a Lenten reading or as a resource for the weeks between Easter and Trinity Sunday. We are sharing these reflections daily during Lent, hoping that our common experience of God’s grace may draw our two families of churches closer together in this extraordinary year, and be used beyond 2017 and actually at any time.”