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Common Sense

June 09, 2019
By Rev. David French

“Common sense.” I don’t know why it’s called “common.” We all know there’s nothing common about it. I think we would agree that the simple, practical wisdom that we call “common sense” is getting harder and harder to find. In fact, if you spend any amount of time interacting with people, you’ll quickly learn that common sense is actually pretty rare. Lots of people claim to have it, and yet, very few people actually show it.

The reason I begin this way is because, believe it or not, common sense is foundational to our faith, our mission, and our ministry. It’s true. But, keep in mind I’m not referring to worldly common sense; the kind that says “don’t stick your finger in an electrical outlet.” I’m not even referring to the sensibilities that are truly common to all those borne of Adam, a sinful common sense that we’re all conceived with and born with. No one has ever had to be taught to lie. No one has ever had to be taught to be selfish. It’s common to all men. It’s the ugly side of common sense.

No, the common sense I’m talking about is the sense that’s only common to faithful Christians. So, what does it mean to be a Christian? In its most basic definition, to be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ. Jesus is the leader, and we are His followers. He leads, we follow. Simple enough, certainly common sense would say so. And yet, how often is this “Christian common sense” ignored, even by the faithful?

Consider this morning’s lesson from Acts. But, before we do, I want to remind you of the words Jesus spoke to these same apostles as He stood in their midst on Easter Sunday and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, saying to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations.” That’s it. Not a lot of need for clarification.

Now consider the words of Jesus spoken to His apostles just before He ascended: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” Again, not a lot of need for clarification. So, to make disciples and grow the Church, we baptize and let Christ do the teaching; that is, teach His Word. Let Him do the talking. We are not taught by Jesus to give our opinions or speculations. He doesn’t command that we talk about our feelings or try to fill the need du jour. None of that. Just make disciples by baptizing them and teaching all that Christ has taught and commanded. 

You see, at both Easter and His ascension, Jesus makes it very clear what the faith of the Christian is founded upon; that is, Himself. At both, Jesus makes it very clear what all faithful mission and evangelism and “church” is all about: His Word and sacraments. The account of Pentecost which Luke records for us in Acts shows so beautifully how His apostles practiced faithful, God-given common sense.

By and through the working of the Holy Spirit, they were emboldened to open their mouths and speak the profound yet simple truth of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world. They were able to stand before all kinds of strangers and speak the truth about sin, the need for repentance, and the blessed assurance of forgiveness by grace through faith, just as their Lord Christ had commanded them to do. Peter declares, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they [the huge crowd of strangers] heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”

So, I ask again, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” Again, it’s just common sense that a Christian is a follower of Christ. Peter and the rest of the apostles showed this faith-filled common sense. They spoke the truth - the words God gave to them. They called sin “sin.” They called all who heard to repentance. They pointed all who were in need of salvation, forgiveness, and peace to Christ and to His grace freely given in the waters of holy baptism. “This promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off … everyone whom the Lord calls to Himself.” That is, to everyone who the Lord loved enough to die and rise again for. It’s all so simple. God’s Word rightly taught and His sacraments rightly administered.

And yet, this faithful common sense seems to be so very uncommon in the life of Christians. How often do we, with the best intentions, strive to make disciples and yet fail to do the one simple thing that Christ calls us to do, to let Him do the talking? This God-given miracle of “speaking in foreign tongues” was given to the apostles for one simple reason, so that they could proclaim the Word of God, both Law and Gospel in the language that the hearers could understand.

My friends, that’s what “Church” is all about. That’s what evangelism and mission and worship are all about. That’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about, sharing the love and forgiveness you have received in both word and deed each and every day the Lord grants to you. “For Jews demand miracles and Greeks seek wisdom….” Today, people seek entertainment, a self-serving sense of purpose, and a feeling that convinces them that they really are good. But, the truth is, like every other self-proclaimed good works we do, they, like chaff on the threshing floor, will be swept up and tossed into the fire because they cannot save you.

But, faithful followers of Christ are different. We followers of Christ the Lord are called to humbly, faithfully, and obediently follow His lead. We do that by taking up our crosses and following Him, trusting that He is working all things for our good and for the good of those who love Him. We let Him do the talking as we share His word and point to the one true source of grace, mercy, and peace -- that is, His cross.

We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, foolishness to Gentiles, and not very wise or productive or flashy or fun to the masses today either. The truth rarely is. You know as well as I do that worldly common sense tells us that this message of Christ crucified is a terrible business model. It won’t bring in the masses that we are hoping for. But, to those who are called by God, Christ, the word incarnate, is the very power and wisdom of God. He alone is our hope and He is God’s gift to you.

May the simple yet powerful truth of God’s unconditional love and word of forgiveness be your confidence, your joy, and your peace until the day we are all together with Him, our Lord and Savior.

In His holy and precious name, Amen

Tags: Acts 2:1-21