God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:19
“God’s work. Our hands.” This is the tag line of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A few years ago a colleague wrote a reflection of this tag line inspired by the passion accounts we hear around Holy Week. “God’s work came through our hands. Our hands carried [the] sword and buckler to the Garden. Our hands bound Jesus to carry him away. Our hands made a crown of thorns and shoved it on his head. Our hands lashed the whip. Our hands wielded the hammer, held the nails. Our hands cast lots for clothing. Our hands thrust a spear. And on Easter Sunday…He is not here; why do you look for the living among the dead! God’s work! Our hands.” This is indeed a poignant reflection.
However, in my estimation it doesn’t go far enough. The Apostle Paul tells us that “God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ.” So what of the hands of those who have been reconciled to God? I would say that God’s work continues to come through our, now reconciled, hands. Our hands carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Our hands give a cup of cold water to those in need. Our hands bind up the wounds of our neighbors. Our hands clothe the naked; feed the hungry; visit the lonely; and bless the afflicted. God’s work! Our hands! Jesus said that we will be his witnesses…well, perhaps we are also his feet, and his lips, and his hands.
The simple reality is this. We have an amazing capacity for evil. We can kill, destroy, hurt, and tear down. But there is more to us. As people who have been reconciled to God we have an incredible capacity for good. We can bring life, save, heal, and build up. Luther called this duality being a saint and sinner. In truth, as Christians, we are always saint and sinner. We won’t fully put off our sinful selves until we are raised with Christ in Glory. However, we are a people who are always being called out. We are being called out from our slavery to sin to our freedom in Christ. Only this freedom isn’t to do whatever we want…it is to live with Christ and being made anew in his image each and every day.
As Lutherans we aren’t too big on decision theology. We don’t place a lot of emphasis on one big moment where we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Instead, we proclaim that God decided for us; he chose us! Remember, as Paul says, God was reconciling the world to himself…not the other way around. But still, we have a role to play in all of this. Its our call as Christians to decide to follow Jesus…to grow like Jesus, each and every day. This is what Luther called daily dying and rising with Christ. So, just as Joshua once asked the Israelites long ago, “Chose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” we too are called to ask that very question of ourselves each and every day.
So I ask you, take a look at those hands of yours. How will you use them this day? Will you use them for your own selfish purposes…to serve yourself and to hurt others; or will you use them in service to God and your neighbor for the upbuilding of the kingdom? Chose this day whom you will serve! God’s work! Our Hands!