Once You Were Not A People…

 By Paul Koch

Today is Mother’s Day, a day where everyone takes a moment to either give thanks to God for their mom, or thank their mom personally, or at least send some flowers. To be sure, mothers are worthy of a day of recognition. After all mothers tend to be incredible creatures of sacrifice and love. Mothers are nurturing and compassionate. They are given that unique role of giving and caring for new life. At the beginning of all things, after mankind’s fall into sin, the Lord promised that the offspring of the woman would one day crush the head of the serpent. In Genesis chapter 3, we are told of the promise of Christ: a child born of Mary that would suffer, die, and rise to give us new life and hope. And so, Adam rightly names his wife “Eve” which means life. We are told that she is mother of all the living, and all women from that day forward bear the marks of life and hope.

In 1 Peter 2, we hear more about the language of life and love and motherhood. Peter says, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Here Peter transports all of us, mothers, fathers, and children alike into the role of infants. Here we are called to long for pure spiritual milk like that newborn child who cries out to be fed. This pure milk is none other than the Gospel. That pure proclamation of life and salvation in Christ alone apart from the works of the law. Like our earthly mothers who gave us life, our spiritual mother is the good news that brings us life everlasting, life eternal in the riches of the new heavens and new earth.

Peter says that by feeding on this pure spiritual milk, by consuming the Gospel of Christ, we grow up into salvation. So, it is not by desires or hopes or dreams, but by actual feeding that we are saved. As children, you receive the gifts of your mother. You receive the proclamation that you are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone. And that gift is a tangible thing. It is the washing of new birth where Word and water are combined to unite you to all the gifts of Christ’s death and resurrection. That day when water was poured over your head, when you were washed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, you died and rose with Christ. All your sin was covered by his blood, all his righteousness was freely given to you. But the gifts didn’t end there, for you are those who have tasted that the Lord is good. You’ve actually fed upon his body and blood in with and under bread and wine for the forgiveness of all your sins. These are real gifts given for you. There is the Word of life and forgiveness placed in the mouths of your brothers and sisters. The Word of hope and salvation that meets you again and again and again. And so, you are saved.

But, as we grow up in our salvation there are new dangers that lurk, new distractions and perversions that seek to have us wander from our mother and that pure spiritual milk of salvation. Now, in our lives we know that one of the great dangers when a child becomes an adult lies in their separation from their childhood home, separation from the love and care of their mother. The letting go can be hard, for while it may be full of hope and confidence, there is always that little bit of fear and worry. What if they forget what they’ve learned? What if they lose their way? What if they reject who they are? For we know that this world is full of competing ideas. It is a place of tempting ideals and newfound identities. Leaving our mothers can be risky, but it is a necessary and noble thing to do. It is how we become adults, how we mature and develop as individuals. We ought to encourage and support those who leave their childhood home and start out on their own.

But while leaving our earthly mothers can be dangerous and a bit difficult, leaving our spiritual mother is downright deadly. There is no nobility in a life apart from the pure spiritual milk of the Gospel. The constant feeding is crucial if you are to endure through this present age. You need that Word of life and salvation ringing in your ears over and again. You need the body and blood of Christ if you are to press on day after day and week after week. One of my greatest fears is when members of the body of Christ become habitually absent from the fellowship. When one of our brothers or sisters misses a Sunday, and then another one, and then another, I worry and fear for them. Not that they’ve fallen into some sort of great debauchery, but they are living without feeding on the gifts of salvation. And your lives are under constant attack. The temptations aren’t necessarily to gross perversion, but to a forgetfulness and disregard for the blessings of God which can wreak havoc on your hope and confidence.

The world around us tells us that this is all fine if you need such crutches to get through life. You are encouraged to go it alone, to leave our mother, to do it ourselves. You are encouraged to find your identity and your security in this age, in the contents of your wallets. Your financial security becomes most important, or your standing among your peers, or your looks, or your accomplishments. After all, there are successful and strong and beautiful people all over this world who have no use for Christ, no time for church, and find no benefit in such things at all. So why should you? Church, and all that goes with it, is lowly and insignificant. Sure, you could spend a few hours once a week dealing with it, but in the end, why bother? Go ahead and make more time for yourself; for it is there where you find hope and happiness anyway.

You see, the world is full of those who disobey the Word of God, who stumble and reject the gifts, who have either never tasted that the Lord is good, or who have long forgotten what it was to crave the pure spiritual milk. They would have you join their ranks. They would have you reject the cornerstone and build little temples to yourselves.

But today I remind you of something more. Today I declare the promises of God, who took that rejected stone and made it the cornerstone of your salvation. For no matter where you have wandered, no matter how long you’ve been gone, no matter how lost or confused you’ve been in your journey, you are not outside his gifts. You are welcomed again to drink deep of the pure spiritual milk of the Gospel. For Christ says to you, “You are forgiven all your sins, you are not strangers and orphans, no you are mine and I love you.”

So, St. peter says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called your out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” What glorious words those are. You have received his mercy and that mercy that forgiveness has made you into his people. You see the voice of the Father proclaims to you something beyond what you can see, beyond the hopes and dreams of our world. He declares that in Christ you are his own – loved, forgiven and blessed. You are his people.

And so, you are called this day to live as such people. The people of God are a powerful and bold people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. That pure spiritual milk fills you with the gifts of Christ so that you might proclaim them to others. What is there to be afraid of? You are his people! Proclaim his excellencies, proclaim them to each other, forgive and encourage and love as you have been loved.

When you see one leaving the fellowship or barely hanging on, reach out and welcome her back in. Speak the truth in love and don’t let him leave the source of life and salvation. And continue to proclaim God’s mercies in your homes. Be that warrior priest who will not allow the temptations of the world to overcome the gifts of Christ. You can do it. You are His people, people of His marvelous light. So, let that light shine.