You can’t go very far in church or in a life of faith without coming across the idea of a “good confession”. People get worked up about the fact that at some point we ask young people to “confess” stuff about God and about Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and then ask them to promise to be true to that confession until death. That’s a lot of pressure parents will say. That’s asking a lot of those who live in a Christian world that only asks for a kind of personal piety that can be shown or hidden according to personal preference. No demands, just a general show up at church and talk about Jesus once and awhile, and of course, pray and praise God.
Hermann Sasse made an uncomfortable observation that according to the scriptures, discipleship “is never quiet obedience only”. There is always and everywhere a confession that is demanded by the very nature of who we are in relation to who Jesus is and Jesus asks the questions – Who do you say I am?.
We live in a world where people are busy defining themselves and then trying to explain how Jesus fits into that definition. For those in a confessing world Jesus tells us who he is, then he does an audacious thing that from a human perspective is insulting; He tells us who were are, and how we are. We are one way if we confess, that is speak back to God what He speaks about and to us. We are another way if we confess, speak back to him what we wish he were, or what we conceive him to be. In any event a confession will have to be made because when we run into Jesus everyone has to, as Sasse says, answer the question of who he is.
Rev. Herbert Mueller got all that. He did a presentation on one of the parts of the theme of our convention, rejoicing. Mueller got into that theme by getting into confessing. It was a masterful and exalted exposition of what a joy a good confession is and must be because it results in forgiveness and peace. Speaking back to God what he first spoke to us tells us who and what and where we are in a fallen world and then pulls back the curtain and declares who and what and where we are in Christ. It is, to use the old Lutheran cliche as, if the gates of paradise are opened, which in fact they are.
Herb got into it up close and personal. Being diagnosed with a serious medical condition he confessed the joy of being able to confess the reason that Christ died for him. Jesus died so that Herb might be His own and live under him in His Kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness and innocence and blessedness.
The good confession of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the internal working of the Trinity that creates and preserves and redeems and sanctifies and calls and gathers and enlightens and brings us to everlasting life is a joyful thing and Herb brought it home.
He brought home the joy of confessing an awful battle in which Christ takes my side and becomes the “devil” to the devil for our sakes. Christ drives the devil the way the devil would like to drive us but he can’t because one of the confessions that we make about Christ is that he is “victor”.
Rev. Mueller got all this and he still gets it. He gave it to us and we rejoiced too. A whole convention rejoiced with two ovations. Usually Conventions only stand and applaud when there is a big cash pay out or when the convention is over. Herb received two. One, I believe is because he announced the big pay out – mercy for our meanness, forgiveness for our sins, a shepherd out there looking to bring us home to him. The second was like unto the last of these. The convention responded in rejoicing because for one glorious moment we felt what we sing. We felt ourselves gently laid on shoulders that scraped upon a cross and brought home at last by one who even then, will rejoice over us.
Thank you Rev. Mueller for “making the good confession” and for helping us to rejoice.