The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:11-15)
Gospel means good news
How often do you hear from Christians about God’s generosity?
How often do you hear from Christians that no one will be put to shame?
How often do you hear from Christians that there is no distinction between people of different cultures and races?
Within the church, I hear about these things a lot. I am fortunate to serve with many generous, empathetic, and open-minded people.
But outside, especially in the world of social media and TV news, not so much. In the popular culture especially, the Christian message too often sounds exclusive, judgmental, and fearful.
Who are you afraid of?
For the LORD spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. (Isaiah 8:11-13)
Who do we fear?
Refugees … prisoners … all who are in danger …
The poor and the oppressed, the unemployed and the destitute, prisoners and captives …
Those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit …
Those who do not yet believe, and those who have lost their faith …
Our enemies and those who wish us harm … all whom we have injured or offended …
Who are you afraid of? Why are you afraid of them?
Perhaps more importantly, who tells you to fear them, and why do they do that? Who paints a picture of the world that causes you dread instead of joy?
How beautiful the feet!
Teresa of Ávila said,
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
We are surrounded by stories and images designed to cause us to fear the stranger, the poor, the unbeliever, the other.
But hear the word of God that came to Isaiah: “Do not call conspiracy what this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears.”
And hear the word that Paul preached: “The same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call upon him.”
And hear the collect that we pray every Monday, even on Mondays like today when we remember one like Matthew who preached the good news — the gospel — about Jesus.
Let these words remind you of the good news of God’s generosity and let them guide your feet into the way of peace.
Let them make you a beautiful messenger of the gospel like Matthew.
A Collect for the Renewal of Life
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.