Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody wants to be accepted, to feel safe, to feel like they belong. Sadly however, people do not always find themselves in such situations, whether by their own doing or by their circumstances. In fact, life in many ways can be described as a quest for comfort.
So often this quest for comfort is pursued because of how uncomfortable the nature of life is. This is what leads people to devour endless pints of ice-cream, or pursue unending shopping sprees, or binge-watch show after show, or hit the bottle or the medicine cabinet, or even devour girl after girl on your computer screen. All of these means claim to be able to fill the deepest voids of the human heart. The problem is that that they never do.
Maybe that’s you today. You’ve found yourself in a pit and are attempting to claw your way out, and with each upward grasp you’re only rewarded with another handful of mud, which gives for the briefest of moments the hope of escape. But it’s betrayal always leaves you flat on your back. Rocky Balboa said it best, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.” Rocky was at least half right. The world is difficult and heavy, but we aren’t strong enough to beat it on our own.
One of my favorite sentences in the English language comes from an old teaching tool used by the church for the past 450 years. The Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” That’s a fascinating question isn’t it. For many people they would provide all sorts of answers to what they believe to be their “comfort in life” but what is the “only comfort”? Secondarily, what can comfort us in death?
Let me share with you that classic answer provided by the Heidelberg Catechism, “What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ…” (HC Q&A 1) In that simple sentence you find the very heart of Christianity.
Christianity is not about what you DO for God; that is soul-crushing religion. Instead, Christianity is about what God has DONE forever in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, that very question of the Catechism elaborates Christ’s sufficient work as the eternal Son of God, the second person of the eternal Trinity.
Jesus Christ, on my behalf, and on behalf of every believer has “fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood” and “delivered me from the tyranny of the devil.” This is not a potential work of Christ, but a completed work of Christ. This is the once-for-all-time accomplished work of redemption. As the old Reformers used to say, “Christ is either a complete savior, or no savior at all.”
But the Catechism continues “[Jesus] also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. (cf. Matthew 10:29-31 and Romans 8:28)”
The love and care of Christ is not a piece of fiction. It is the very air that daily fills the Christian’s lungs. Jesus said, “I give [my sheep] eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28 ESV)
How is this my comfort and how can it be yours? Our foundation for daily hope and joy is not rooted in our own hearts. Our hearts can lie to us, can waver and fluctuate. But the heart of God in Christ does not change. Consequently, as the heart of God does not change, nor does His victory change. Rulers change, politicians change, fashion changes, languages change, but the eternal God of the Universe in His love for His bride, the church, is older than time itself.
So what is your only comfort in life and in death? What is your great hope? What is it that will strengthen you when life’s darkest moments come like tidal wave to destroy the sand castles of our world? There is only one firm foundation, that is outside of corruption, and that is God Himself. Come and see this King. Come and hear His words. Come and see for yourself all that Christ has done for His people.
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