Faith Column: What's the point?
BY PASTOR DONNA M. OLSEN
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Pequot Lakes
I have a great dog, Maddie. And, she’s very smart. Maddie understands many words, and I know that she does because she responds differently to different words. If I ask Maddie if she wants to play with the puppies, she wags her tail and dances around me. If I tell her I’m going to work, she hides because she knows it’s crate time. Maddie is a smart one.
But, one thing Maddie doesn’t understand is the purpose of the pointing finger. Walking along the lake, I tell Maddie to sit. Then I point to the ducks on the lake and say, “Maddie, look at those ducks!” And what does she do? She looks at my finger! She can’t see past the pointing finger. No matter how hard I try to help her see beyond my finger to the object of my pointing, she just does not get it.
Aren’t we Christians sometimes like Maddie? Look at all that God points us to, and yet, at times we can’t see past the pointing finger. Our baptism is a life begun, and yet we think our baptism is a completion, a fulfillment of our relationship with God.
Our Sunday worship is a pointing to a God who desires a relationship with us, with promises kept. And, at time, we see our worship as an hour spent on Sundays that frees us up for personal time the rest of the day. We don’t see that our dismissal from worship is the beginning of a living-out of our baptismal vocation. The sending part of worship is the longest part of worship, lasting until we gather together at the next service. We don’t get the point.
We hear at baptism that the Holy Spirit comes into our lives; comes into our very selves. We hear that the Holy Spirit is the very power of God; the power that enables us to believe in Jesus Christ, and to live into that belief. The Holy Spirit is the person of God who prods us; enables us; transforms us; encourages us; surprises us; makes us new.
And yet, we stay the same. We look at the pointing finger of baptism, worship, God’s Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and we don’t see past the pointing finger.
We read and hear God’s Holy Word and sense that the story is important. But, we don’t see past the pointing finger to the object of God’s story. And that object is: This story is ours. Those people are us. God’s promises are for them and for us. God’s salvation plan is one into which we are adopted. We are people of the book!
Living like we are loved, living like we are forgiven, living like we are saved — that’s the point. Yet, we look at the finger and not at the object to which it points.
Ultimately, that object is US. The object of God’s worship, baptism, Holy Word and Son, Jesus, is US. For God, we are the object to which all of that points. God requires of us our time, talent, money, obedience and service. God requires of us our very lives. Why? For God’s sake?
Remember, we don’t have a needy God. We are the needy ones. The baptism, the Holy Word, the worship, the service to our Lord and his precious Son, Jesus, are all for our sake. What God does, he does for our sake. That’s the point. We are the point. Living like that’s true is our response to a God who could not imagine a world without loving us into being. Thanks be to God.