“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”
Enthusiasm, in the sense of excitement, can be a good thing. It gets us moving. However, enthusiasm can also be a hindrance, for it is often temporary. It wanes away. We begin something full of zeal, but then soon lose interest. We then might begin to even despise what we were once eager about.
This happened during the Reformation concerning the Gospel in Luther’s day. People were excited about the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. People paid in earnest to the teachings of God. But shortly thereafter, the heat waned into lukewarmness and even into indifference on the count of many. People tired of the truth and wanted something new and different to tickle their fancy.
Long before Luther, St. Paul the apostle encountered a similar situation, for to the Christians in Galatia he writes, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).
The Galatian Christians were turning from the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to something else, another teaching, a teaching which was not of God. They were tired, ironically, of the only truth that truly makes alive new.
Christians today are beset by the same temptations. How easy it is to consider the glorious resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday, and then go into the “ho-humness” of everyday life, including Sunday morning! How easy it is for us to distance ourselves further and further from the Lord and His saving doctrine and all the while take for granted the Good News of forgiveness in Christ!
Like the Christians in Galatia or the Christians during of the Reformation, we too currently face such trials as the people of God in the year 2012. The answer, however, is not to be found in trying to solve this problem, trying harder, or in looking for something to bring about the escaping enthusiasm and excitement that we so long for. The answer, simply, is turn from selfishness to Christ—to not seek what the world and our sinful nature looks for—but to seek Him who alone forgives and saves the ungodly (Psalm 32:1-2).
Enthusiasm goes up and down for this and for that. It can be sometimes quite hot. On the other hand, it can also become quite frigid.
God’s love for sinners, for you, in Christ, does not wax or wane. It is constant. And in Christ, God’s love for you is sure and certain (Romans 5:8). Therefore do His people seek to continue in that sure and certain Word and doctrine of Christ, for it is only there that Christ’s disciples remain (John 12:26).
“Whatever we do, we are always very ardent at the beginning; but when the ardor of our initial feelings is spent, we soon lose our enthusiasm. We give up on things and completely reject them as a impetuously as we undertake them. When the light of the Gospel first began to appear after the great darkness of human traditions, many listened eagerly to sermons. Now that the teaching of religion has been successfully reformed by the great growth of the Word of God, many are joining the sects, to their destruction. Many despise not only Sacred Scripture but almost all learning.” (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p47).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for our lack of enthusiasm for Your Holy and life-giving Word. Keep us from becoming indifferent to Your heavenly doctrine. Uphold us by Your Word and grant us diligence in its study, that we continue to be Your faithful servants. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.