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Communion Meditations (2006)

Do Your Worst

Originally delivered October 1

During the early days of World War II the British people, especially in London, were heavily bombed.  There was a lull in the bombing, and certain people thought this would be a good time to approach Hitler, asking for some agreement to stop the bombing of cities.  Winston Churchill rejected this out of hand; his principle was that there would be no agreement with the enemy of any kind, except unconditional surrender.  To Hitler he said, “Do your worst—and we will do our best.”

A similar problem faces the Christian in any era.  There is always someone arguing that a compromise with Satan will produce good results.  After all, everyone else is doing it, right?  (If you think this is not a problem, consider how seldom you hear that adultery is sin.  And what is the state of marriage in the church today?)  There are many ways in which Satan moves for the compromise; here are but three:

· Vengeance.  Whether it’s as simple as road rage or as subtle as getting even with your childhood enemy, vengeance seems sweet.  We justify it to ourselves that we are in the right, therefore we are entitled to it.  But vengeance belongs to the Lord;  do not steal from Him that which will eat your soul.

· Greed.  So often disguised as getting ahead, we often do not see its price.  I once asked a corporate vice-president what it took to achieve his position.  His answer:  “Your divorce papers.”  He had sacrificed his wife and family to his employer.  Our Lord tells us to consider the lilies of the field; all that some of us can see of lilies is the price tag at the garden store.

· Envy.  “Competition” is a virtue in the eyes of the world; so often it really means envy.  We see our neighbor’s fishing boat; we need one two feet longer, with more chrome.  We can rationalize it how we please, but for some of us the drive to get what someone else already has is overwhelming.  Since we call it competition, it is socially acceptable.  But our Lord tells us that He will provide—and knows better what we need.

How is a Christian to deal with such temptations—or besetting sins?  The answer, as always, is in the imitation of Christ.  “What would Jesus do” is the contemporary way of putting it.  Look to His example.  For vengeance, He gave back “Father forgive them.”  For greed, he could say, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Envy?  He who is equal to God made Himself as a human, and a humble one at that.

But these things must be remembered to be effective.  “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” He said.  He overcame it with sacrifice in humility.  One of the virtues of the Lord’s Supper is that it reminds us of how He conquered the world.  He is the Way, the Truth, the Light—and this meal reminds us of the example He set.

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