“And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
In the St. Louis area and in other parts of the country, a popular pastime is trivia nights. In person and now online, people gather in teams, an announcer reads the questions in various categories, teams answer the questions and at the end of all the rounds, a winning team with the most answers right is declared.
I am always amazed by what people know. One woman in my group during one trivia night I was in online knew that MMA stood for Mixed Martial Arts, though she had never been involved in the sport. Another person in my group knew that the group Baha Men sang, “Who Let the Dogs Out.” How did she know that? She just knew.
That got me thinking: “How do we know that Lord is God?” We just know, not because of anything we have done, but because the Holy Spirit has put that knowledge into our hearts, souls and minds. Knowledge of our Lord is being put into the hearts, souls and minds of people every day. And this is not trivial knowledge, this is essential knowledge for our very lives. Knowing the Lord means knowing we are forgiven, we are loved and we are remembered by him forever. Not just good to know, but everlastingly life-affirming to know.
One of the most popular Christian singers right now is Lauren Daigle, and one of her most popular songs is “You Say,” It is a powerful song in these times when bullying is becoming more of a problem in schools and political rhetoric is oftentimes more mean-spirited than it perhaps once was.
In the midst of all the name-calling out there, we need to remember that we have a Savior whose name is above all names and who lovingly calls us each by name. This is what our God says to us, as Lauren Daigle reminds us:
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
These lyrics are a firm reminder to us that we should never listen to the voices from outside or within that tell us we are not enough or that we do not measure up,
We are valued, We are precious. We have worth, because of our God who created us and made us his own through the suffering and death of Jesus. We will always belong to him.
Nothing anyone else has to say otherwise can ever change that. Bask in that certainty as you listen to this song:
Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII and Edward VI, is well-known for coining the term “Comfortable Words,” which he outlined in the Book of Common Prayer as a preparation for Communion. Here is what he wrote:
Hear what comfortable words our Savior Christ says to all that truly turn to him. “Come to me all that travail, and are heavy laden, and I shall refresh you.” God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son to the end that all that believe in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. Hear also what St. Paul says, “This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Hear what St. John says, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins” (Book of Common Prayer, 111-20)
These words of comfort are a wonderful collection for us to remember as we come to the Table of the Lord in gratitude and praise for what he has done through his Body and his Blood.
These Comfortable Words from Matthew 11:28, John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15 and 1 John 2:1 are good for us to recite and remember at other times, too, of course: in the morning, at bedtime, when feeling sad or frustrated or when starting to doubt.
Everything in our lives comes back to the comfort that the Gospel provides. Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross for our sins is all we need to know to find true comfort in our lives and in any situation we may encounter.
Think of ways that you can incorporate these Comfortable Words into your daily or weekly routines. And be comforted by them again and again.
Moralistic therapeutic deism (or MTD for short) may not be a familiar term to most of us, but according to the 2005 book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers by Christian Smith and Melinda Lindquist Dento, it is what defines the practices of most Christian young people in the United States today.
Let’s take a look at each part of this term:
Moralistic: The belief that a central part of religious life is being a good and moral person.
Therapeutic: The belief that religion helps us to feel good about ourselves.
Deism: The belief that God exists, created the world and defines our general moral order, but is no longer personally involved in one’s affairs.