Lately, I’ve been reading a new prayer book entitled To Live with Christ, daily devotions by Bo Giertz (1905-1998). According to the forward, Bo Giertz
journeyed from atheism to become the bishop of Gothenburg in the Lutheran Church of Sweden… Well-known for a sturdy confessional Lutheranism wedded to a warm piety born of confidence in the Gospel, Bo Giertz was a genuine bishop.
Indeed, what I have enjoyed most about these devotions is how they express genuine Lutheran doctrine with warmth and vitality. Especially beautiful are the prayers. For example, here is the devotion from Tuesday after fifth Sunday after Trinity (last Tuesday):
When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. 1 Corinthians 4:12-13.
The apostle is the trustworthy steward of God’s secrets, and a steward is always loyal. Paul knows that loyalty is his first duty as well as his most sincere aspiration. He doesn’t inquire about what other people say about him. He was obviously criticized and belittled in Corinth, although he didn’t care. He knows who will be the final judge in his life, and he will remain faithful to Him. Paul knows he’s a sinner. Even if he’s not conscious of it, he needs forgiveness. That’s exactly what he preaches: Christ died for us all so we could become God’s children through faith.
However, Paul says, God’s kingdom does not consist of words. Christianity isn’t what we call an ideology or outlook on life. It’s not just a knowledge or conviction that things behave in a certain way. It’s a force. It means that God intervenes and creates. Something new comes into the world and into our lives. This new thing is God’s secret and the new life in forgiveness. The Law ended where Christ began. We are allowed to be God’s children for Christ’s sake and that fills us with joy every day. For the world and for all the Christians who continue to think like the world thinks—and there were plenty of those in Corinth—it’s incomprehensible. For them it’s foolishness to believe you can live without standing up for your rights and giving an eye for an eye when you’re treated badly. Yet that’s how Paul lived. He knows every Christian lives like that: never perfectly, yet in a way that shows something new has come. Paul can point out simple facts: He was reviled and blessed. He was slandered, and he spoke good words. He was persecuted, and he endured without giving an eye for an eye. He did as Jesus said: bear your cross every day and follow your Master.
As Christians we live in the kingdom of forgiveness, where retaliation and the common order of justice no longer apply. Living as followers of Jesus often means being strangers in the world, something people find absurd, provocative, unrealistic, or ridiculous. At the same time we bear witness to Christ and open the eyes of those who are “of the truth.”
Dear Lord Jesus, help me to be a fool in the right way, a fool for Your sake, a humble and thankful fool in Christ. I know Your foolishness is superior to all the wisdom in the world. People mocked You when You were on the cross. They thought you were powerless. They thought they were right. That’s when You completed God’s work with a victory. Right there, God’s wisdom paved the way for a boundless blessing. While You suffered and were down trodden, You gave life and forgiveness to the world. May I never be afraid of suffering that leads to peace and reconciliation. May I be joyous and thankful and believe in Your power, even when others think I’m throwing away what is right and can’t understand what’s best for me. You are what’s right and what’s best for me, and that’s all I need to know.
The devotions are also arranged in an order that leads daily from one topic into another related topic. This excellent devotional book is 830 pages bound in a hardcover, and is currently on sale at Concordia Publishing House for only $8.
May God bless the readers.