Sunday, February 22, 2009

Obama Beats Jesus

I skimmed over the news about Obama being more popular than other "icons" of the era, such as Mother Teresa, Ghandi, JFK, and even Jesus. Was that meant to make me go flippity dippity or some such thing? Jesus Himself said it would be that way.

Moreover, that's the way of the two religions, and of the life of the Christian who lives as both sinner and saint in this life in the first place. There are only two religions in this world. There are those religions by which a person will appease his god by his own gifts as retribution for sin in hope of salvation and heaven, and there is the religion in which God gave His only-begotten Son to die for the sake of the sins of all mankind. What a paltry substitution it is to trade one's own good works, or even one's faith (as if it were the one last good work to be done) for what God gives freely for the forgiveness of sins. This is truly what it means to be one's own god. And Christians can be swept up in this idolatry, too.

The irony of the news report that Obama is more popular than Jesus is that in all Christian honesty daily and much we are more popular than Jesus to ourselves. That is why we fail to love our neighbor as we ought. Even if we do not murder him, even if we do not maliciously slander him, do we do all we can to help him in his bodily and spiritual needs? Do we speak well of him and protect his image? Do we covet what others have? That's what all those ads on TV are for in the first place, to incite covetousness. How well do we combat that inclination?

This is why the whole life of a Christian is that of repentance, plunged ever deeper into Baptism. Just as we sin often and much, so do we need to be drowned often and much. This doesn't mean re-Baptism. Scripture is clear in Ephesians 4 that there is only one Baptism. What this means is daily confessing what God already knows is true about us: "I am the sinner. Only Jesus saves me from sin, death and the devil." This is repentance. This is living daily in Baptism, drowning the Old Adam so that the New Man might arise.

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