Thursday, January 12, 2006

Simul Justus et Peccator

I once read that some ancient rabbi taught that every person should keep two pieces of paper on them at all times, one in each pocket. The one would read, "I am but dust and ashes" and the other, "For my sake was the world created." The object was to look at whichever one the person needed in the moment, to keep the balance between hubris and despair. This struck me as a sound "intervention" but I thought a Christian version would certainly substitute "For me Christ died" for the phrase about creation. I thought about getting a coins made that had these sayings on opposite sides. Then I realized that we have a reformation slogan that fits the bill quite nicely and has even deeper implications: Simul justus et peccator / At the same time righteous and a sinner. So I got onto and had a stamp made that says just that, along with a Luther Rose. I have made up some of my own "pocket pieces" modeled after the pocket sponsor for alcoholics. I gave out the first of these today and explained its significance. Sure this may be a bit silly, but we need physical reminders at times, correctives to our concupiscence. One of my clients told me that his wife's pet peeve is when Christians refer to themselves as "sinners." I have not given him a token, but I did tell him my take on the issue, which is that we will suffer from our sinful nature and have to daily turn to Christ so long as we live, with full comfort in the faith that Christ's righteousness is ours.

I also have a "comfort cross" in my office that is made out of olive wood and is essentially a cross with all of the corners rounded off so that you can hold or squeeze it and presumably take comfort from meditation on the cross. I actually fretted about whether to get this (I'll write later on my overactive cringe reflex). I had a client ask for something like a ball to kneed while he spoke of difficult things and that got me thinking that handling the cross might be a nice way for some clients to focus their thoughts. I wrested however because a comfortable cross is an oxymoron, maybe even a step toward a theology of glory. I do take great comfort from the cross, however, upon which Christ won my redemption.


Blogger Petersen said...

Comfort in the cross is not theology of glory. Good Friday is the most glorious of days and we glory in it. But that glory is hidden under suffering. That which helps us remember this is indeed good.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Carl said...

Your post brought to mind the scene
in "Luther" when Staupitz came into
Luther's cell and handed him the
cross and told him to pray, "I am
yours, save me!" That is one of the most moving and memorable scenes in the film, and that is not a "theology of glory."

11:07 AM  
Blogger Orycteropus Afer said...

What's this? Aanother Aardie?

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never understood why anyone would "love" or "cherish" the old rugged cross. I'm quite sure Christ had no such feelings while he hung on it. I love and cherish my Lord and Savior and His perfect work on the cross. But I would no more love or cherish the cross than I would the electric chair, rope or gurney had they been His instrument of death.

11:45 PM  

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