Oct 21, 2014

Rejoice. He Has Overcome the World.

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

The world can become a heavy burden on our shoulders. So much of what it does is wrong. We have grown accustomed to knowing that Christians and other dissidents live torturous, forgotten lives in North Korean prison camps. We are reminded often of the babies who are “terminated” in their mother’s wombs. We register little surprise when we hear that one of our city’s residents took a bullet to the head on a recent summer evening. Yet fresh suffering, fresh wrong, and fresh horror finds its way into our daily news consumption. Stories of frighteningly aggressive, death-dealing Islamic fighters remind us just how broken this world is. Perhaps we try to brush off the thought of children beheaded, or perhaps we lie awake and mourn for them, or perhaps we go online and post scathing critiques of our nation’s commander-in-chief. No matter what our response is, we carry a little more weight inside our chests. A little more heaviness.
The world seems so hunkered-down, so defensive, so crazy. Even in the interwebs of our own fellow-Americans, the bloggers and pundits and comment-posters act as if they are forever under attack. Go online to a parenting forum, and announce that co-sleeping is unsafe (or say the opposite). The responses are likely to get nasty. Yet why? Why should any of those other parents exorcise their insecurities by telling you about the pathologies you will undoubtedly nurture in your own offspring? Go out on the street and talk to a liberal (or a conservative). The liberal is likely to feel that conservatives are ruining America by fracking our land to pieces, obstructing the social justice that might save the lives of children born into crime and poverty, and stupidly standing in the way of equal-rights marriage. The conservative is likely to feel that liberals are ruining our country by killing babies, destroying marriage, and botching the response to Islamic terrorists. How can all these crazy people work together to preserve and run our nation? It is a sad thing when even parenting forums weigh us down with a little bit more of the weight of the world.

The Christian landscape seems to overflow with megachurches and so-called pastors who peddle lies in exchange for popularity and financial success. Christian bookstores sell sappy coffee mugs and works righteousness. We talk with our Baptist friends (or our Fundamentalist friends, or ELCA friends) and come away unable to shake their trust in errors. Even within our own synod, we sometimes witness unsavory political conflicts or theological clashes. It can begin to feel as if we belong to a tiny little enclave, a remnant, a scant few with our backs to the wall and a mob of bad theology at our door.
There is truth in all of this weight. Yet there is also the devil. Sin broke the world, true enough, but its burden is not borne by us.
Christ bears it. He tells us to take heart, because He has overcome the world.
He died for all of those people—those guards in North Korea, those unborn babies, those late-night warriors of the combox, those Islamists. Whether or not they know, whether or not they  care, He is Lord.
That is why we rejoice.
That is why we are able to give up the heavy, heavy world and instead see the gifts that surround us. We give thanks for the confession of the martyrs. We rejoice that they are gathered around the throne of God, comforted by Christ who wipes away every tear. We marvel that we too will join them in Heaven.
We give thanks for the blessing of a land in which we can still build churches, Christian schools, and Christian homes. We thank God for the opportunity to bear witness to neighbors whose fear and defensiveness might be the very wounds that God uses to open their eyes to their sin and need.
We give thanks for the blessing of faithful pastors, a rich liturgy, and a synodical educational structure that allows for the study and teaching of sound theology. We rejoice that so many of our non-Lutheran neighbors believe the Bible to be God’s Word, thereby allowing us to dialogue with them from a position of common ground.
Most of all, we thank and praise God that His will will be done, that His kingdom will come, and that He does forgive our trespasses. It does not matter that the world is dark. Christ has overcome it.


Anna writes as often as she can, although sometimes it is with only one hand because her baby son requires the other. After graduating from Concordia Wisconsin she taught in Lutheran schools for several years and became so enthusiastic about Classical Education that she will talk about it to whomever will listen. She is a big fan of Jane Austen, dark chocolate, and the Oxford comma. Anna and her husband live in Pennsylvania. Anna's personal blog is Don't Forget the Avocados.

Title Image: "Christ Carrying the Cross" by El Greco, 1580's

1 comment:

  1. Thank God, He will not forever leave us in this broken place.
    The heaviness of the world nearly crushes me at times, and I think I would never come out from under it if God didn't drag me out with His Word and promises that can bring joy even here.


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