May 25, 2022

LifeDate Summer 2022

by Pastor Michael Salemink

The Gospel of Jesus Christ draws us outside ourselves.

Jean-Paul Sartre had fifteen minutes of fame in the twentieth century. Many during the beatnik and boomer generations knew about this existentialist philosopher and author. Now only university students and their instructors recognize his name. He did once very relatably complain, “Hell is other people.” Relatable, but wrong.

Hell is self: self above others and self alone. Sin drives us inward. Dr. Martin Luther—echoing St. Augustine of more than a thousand years earlier—described sin as cor incurvatus in se. This Latin phrase means “the heart curved in on oneself.” Sinfulness disconnects us from our Almighty Maker and Heavenly Father. It divides us from one another. And it distorts our experiences, our emotions, our desires, and our identity.

God doesn’t do lonely. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit personifies community in Himself. Humankind has a love-God. He has designed us for receiving and giving and sharing. His favor, grace, and forgiveness incorporate us into enchanting orbit with Him and with each other. Family and marriage, sexuality and procreation, humility and servanthood, these life issues orient us toward somebody besides me. What a fantastic freedom the gifts of God and the needs of my neighbors affords! Even discomforts and diseases become occasions and impulses for reaching out.

The Gospel deals in abundance. Life is always plural. It consistently resists isolation and evermore implies relationship. Jesus has come not only to bring us to God but also to bring us together. Every human life meets us as gift and privilege, created and redeemed and called by our Lord as His own precious treasure from fertilization to forever. And our life-affirming witness and service is surrounded and celebrated by a magnificent multitude of like-minded saints gone before, yet to come, and the world over.

So, we speak God’s truth and show Christ’s love, because heaven is other people!