April 17, 2018
Acts 4:1-12, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
Alleluia. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Alleluia. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. Alleluia.
Does your life match your faith? Do your deeds and actions reflect the hope that is in you? These are questions that come up again and again in the book of 1 John, the book from which the epistle readings are taken from this Easter season. Last week, we were exhorted to make our lives match our faith by putting away sin from our own lives, for "In him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning." (1 John 3:5-6) This week, we are encouraged to live out our life of faith by showing love through our actions, as we hear "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." That is, we are called to do as Christ has done, and not just profess love, but devote ourselves to serving our neighbor. Our lives should match our confession.
However, the truth is that sometimes, the things that we do are the complete opposite of what we believe. We continue in sin, and rather than loving in word and in deed, we act in selfishness. At those times, our hearts condemn us and cry out "Are you really a Christian? Can someone who is really of God commit this same old sin again?" But even as John urges us to walk in righteousness, he also addresses these times of inconsistency, as he writes "Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything." That is, when we think and feel in our hearts that we are separated from God and not really Christian, we are reminded that it is not our hearts that matter, but it is God, who is greater than our hearts, that matters. And on account of Jesus Christ, God declares us righteous. Therefore, we need not live stricken with fear because of the condemnation of our hearts, but freely live knowing and showing God's love.
-Vicar Titus Utecht
Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd, we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Christ has risen from the dead. God the Father has crowned him with glory and honor, He has given him dominion over the works of his hands; he has put all things under his feet.