Stay in the game
“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’
“He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. … However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’” – Luke 10:17-18, 20
During my undergraduate years, we lived in Oklahoma. At the time, my oldest son was just six years old. He played baseball (tee-ball); his position was centerfield.
During one of his games, he caught a fly ball. Obviously, it was somewhat of a shock to him that he caught the ball. When he realized that he had caught the ball, he came running and shouting, “Daddy I caught it, I caught it!”
That’s what the coach expected of him. Unfortunately, in his excitement, he was so busy praising himself that he forgot that the game was still in session. His catch was important, but it was not the most important thing about the game. I had to persuade him to throw the ball to the infield so that the game could continue.
The gospel text above tells us a little bit about ourselves. We often get wrapped up in our own thrills, and as a result forget or neglect the objective of our mission.
Jesus appointed 72 disciples and sent them out, in pairs, on a mission. He gave them certain powers to perform miracles.
During their mission, they were quite successful. They performed many miracles and drove out certain demons. This surprised them.
Even though Jesus had given them the power to do the things they did, they were still surprised. We often pray to God for certain powers or abilities, or relief, yet when they come, we are surprised and doubt our answered prayers.
Scripture tells us that when Peter was imprisoned by Herod, the church prayed for his release. However, when Peter showed up at the gate, freed, the saints did not believe it was him.
In returning to base
camp, the disciples were very excited and related their stories to Jesus. What joy they displayed. “Lord,” they said, “even the demons submit to us in your name.”
Jesus had to put them right. It is good to rejoice that they were successful in their mission, but more importantly, they were to rejoice about heavenly things, not the fact that they were able to do some miracles.
It was more important that they rejoice about their names being written in heaven. The fact that we are able to do wonders in the name of God does not mean that we automatically have a way into the kingdom of God.
The reformer, Martin Luther, says, “We don’t make the things of God what they are. God does that himself.” The sacrament is still the sacrament, even though the priest who performs it may be rough. God uses us to glorify his name.
In times past, God has used some unusual people to carry out his plan. Yes, God’s gifts come to everyone, even those who are out of the church. We in the church should be thankful that he uses us to do what he has us do.
It is important that we, in our Christian walk, remain grounded in Christ Jesus. Stay focused on the cross. Strive for heavenly things. You are not the one who died for our sins.
Let us stay in the game and do what our Lord calls us to do. People desperately need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Time is of the essence; we don’t have time for self-praises, the game is still in session. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau,119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; telephone 426-9084; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or website www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.