I was asked by President May's office to deliver three devotions for the Indiana District conference this week. On the 28th of October, the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, I spoke the following:
The Large Catechism -- Third Commandment ¶ 100-102 McCain
Let me tell you this, even though you know God’s Word perfectly and are already a master of all things: you are daily in the devil’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14.) He ceases neither day nor night to sneak up on you and to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against these three commandments and all the commandments. Therefore, you must always have God’s Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle and the Word does not make a sound, the devil breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware (Matthew 13:24-30.)
On the other hand, the Word is so effective that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, it is bound never to be without fruit (Isaiah 55:11; Mark 4:20.) It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts (Philippians 4:8.) For these words are not lazy or dead, but are creative, living words (Hebrews 4:12.)
And even though no other interest or necessity moves us, this truth ought to urge everyone to the Word, because thereby the devil is put to flight and driven away (James 4:7.)
How can you add to the good Doctor? Yes, indeed. We are in the devil’s kingdom. Even though not of the world, we are in it. The devil is constantly enticing our flocks, our families, our very selves. He seeks every opportunity to place a wedge between us and Christ’s Word.
But who is to blame about that wedge? Satan alone? As we look closely, we see that we cannot lay the blame entirely at the feet of culture. For the aspects of culture that are against God, yes, it deserves blame. And then there are the times when we are like Adam, blaming his wife, and the God who created her, rather than acknowledging his own guilt. We cannot say, “It was this culture, that You gave to me, that caused me to sin.”
Today we remember and give thanks for two of the lesser known apostles – Simon (not Peter) and Jude, or Judas (not Iscariot.) The Holy Spirit placed them in the context to which Dr. Luther refers. In the midst of the devil’s kingdom, where the Word is despised, the Lord sent these two to preach and teach and baptize.
On this day, we give thanks to God that He calls us to join Simon and Jude at the wheel of the tractor. And as we run over those posts and scare those cows, we are reminded that our place of residence is in the devil’s kingdom.
The heart of Christ, out of great compassion, had mercy on the apostles, even as He has on us today. He rescues us from His old evil foe’s kingdom, and carries us into His own. He sends His Spirit to call us by the Gospel, into His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, gather us through Baptism, enlighten us through His preaching and teaching, and sanctify us through His Holy Supper.
Through it all, Christ, transcends all culture, enters our lives, and binds us with one heart – His very own.