June 2020

June 2020

Christ Our Rock


It’s amazing to me how drastically things can change in such a short time. A week ago, COVID-19 was on everyone’s mind. Now our focus is entirely on protesting (without social distancing) and defending our communities against lawless rioting. My own emotions have swayed wildly in different directions. I have gone from sober reflection on the sacrifices made by our soldiers to protect our country, to anxiety over how best to deal with the threat posed by the coronavirus, to shock over the public murder of George Floyd, to sadness over the intensifying lockdown at the Lutheran Home necessitated by the reopening of our surrounding community, to fear and anger over the violence and disorder afflicting our country and even our own city. By the time you read this I’ll probably be preoccupied with something else.

In the midst of all this, we still have the charge from God to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Does that seem a little strange to you? Does it seem odd that, as the world is seemingly burning down around us, our primary message remains repentance, forgiveness, and eternal salvation through the atoning death of the Son of God? Why do our sermons focus not on the coronavirus, or on racism, or on riots, but on Jesus?

As this week clearly demonstrates, we live in a volatile world. What seems primary one moment can be rendered obsolete the next. Before we even have the chance to process what has happened, we’re being asked to make a statement about something entirely unrelated. Life in this world is like a storm at sea. Without Jesus, we are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14). What do we need in such a situation? We need something firm and unchanging and reliable, where we can rest and get our bearings. We need a rock. We need Jesus.

The Psalms often speak of God as our Rock. False gods are also referred to as “rocks,” because their worshipers rely upon them for safety and stability in the midst of life’s perilous changes. But those false gods are not reliable rocks. They give way and prove to be deceptive sources of security. The living God, on the other hand, is truly our Rock. We can rely upon Him. We can cling to Him with confidence. In fact, we can be so sure of Him that we can even build upon Him, finding permanent residence in Him.

Jesus takes this language and applies it to Himself. “Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matt. 7:24–25). What is the structure that we build on Christ our Rock, or rather, that He builds through us? It’s the Church. When St. Peter made the good confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus replied, “On this rock,” that is, on Peter’s confession, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:16, 18). We, the Christian Church, are built upon our reliable, trustworthy, steady, unchanging Rock, “Jesus Christ … the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

Reliance upon Jesus for forgiveness, life, and salvation means that, no matter how dramatically and unpredictably things change around us on a daily basis, we always have refuge, peace, and shelter from the storm. There are times when we can and should address what is going on around us. There are also times when wisdom dictates that we hold our tongues and allow storms to pass, or at least get our bearings so that we can speak clearly and decisively when the time comes. But whatever the circumstances, whatever the crisis of the day, reliance upon Jesus is our only hope for stability. His Gospel is eternally relevant. With His help, we’ll continue to proclaim that Gospel daily, under every circumstance, until He comes to deliver us into His kingdom forever.

God's Blessings!

Pastor Nuendorf