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Spiritual matters

Jesus brings peace to a world in conflict

April 06, 2011 - Our Lenten worships are following Old Testament situations and New Testament applications. This past week we looked at conflict and promise.

Conflict is not something we necessarily like, but it is necessary for growth.

Too much conflict is not a good thing, it can destroy relationships. Sin causes conflict, leads to the destruction of God's plan for man and man's ability to follow where God leads.

Disagreements, however, can bring new ideas that allow for discussion and can work productively.

Promise brings us hope and anticipation, often with an element of excitement that shows future possibilities to those involved.

Abraham was given a promise by God: he would be given a son, the legacy of a nation and the forerunner of the Messiah.

Impatient with God's time, Sarah, his barren wife, took matters into her own hands, telling Abraham to have a child with her maidservant, Hagar. Ishmael's birth creates conflict between Sarah and Hagar. Isaac, Sarah's son born later, became the child of promise fulfilled by God.

Jesus' birth is also filled with conflict and promise. It was difficult for Joseph who felts Mary was unfaithful to him and God. He loved her and determined to divorce her quietly, to not bring public disgrace upon her.

Mary was faithful to God and Joseph but was also in conflict. An angel told her she would bear son.

How could this happen? The Holy Spirit would come upon this faithful maidservant of the Lord.

Do you hear the great message of hope given by the angel? Joseph was told that Mary had not been unfaithful to him or God, but was faithful as she followed God's will and guidance. She was carrying a far-above extraordinary Son—God's own Son. The promise to Abraham fulfilled in a child, the Messiah to be born.

Jesus faced conflict. Early in His ministry He had conflicts with the religious leaders because He did not fit their traditions. Conflict cost Jesus His life on the cross, where He died for all sins. The only Son of God was not spared, the final sacrifice.

Isaac would reign over a clan that included David and Jesus. That Kingdom would end. Jesus rules over all creation, a clan that includes all true believers in Him.

Romans 10 reminds us: 8But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 13For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Isaac, a child of Law, shows the conflict between God and man; Jesus the Child of Promise, shows the peace He brings between God and man.

The Rev. Kendall Schaeffer is pastor of St. Trinity Lutheran Church.

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