Students sitting outside Bockman
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

One of the things I'm convinced of is that the gift of faith is a "package deal." It is the promise that God has claimed us for this life and the next. I grew up in a time when many people would answer the question, "Why are you a Christian?" The answer, "to go to heaven." That the purpose of faith is to enjoy; and live out the love of Christ for the world--because that kind of life is worth everything, would have been entirely foreign to many. Faith was mostly the carrot at the end of the stick--correct beliefs would get us to heaven to live with God. Paul wants to see his Lord face to face, but Paul could also say, "he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well." I believe this is part of what it means to live out an alternative life in Christ. Such life stands opposed to the increasingly racist, materialistic, cynical and violent culture we have become. Lifting the Christ light will mean facing opposition, but also living a life of integrity and joy.

Grant me wisdom, confidence and joy, O Lord, as your gift of faith moves me to live like my brother Jesus. Use me to stand up to evil and speak out for peace with justice, love and reconciliation. By your generous grace, bring me at last to your loving arms. Amen.

Bishop Tom Aitken, '85
Bishop of Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

Philippians 1:21-30 (NRSV)

21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.
22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer.
23 I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better;
24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.
25 Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith,
26 so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
27 Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel,
28 and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God's doing.
29 For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well--
30 since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.