Your Only Comfort

Your Only Comfort October 21, 2013

TheHeidelberg Catechism, written in Germany in 1563 as a tool topromote instruction and unity in the Christian faith, opens with this question:“What is your only comfort in life and in death?”

The answer:“That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death to myfaithful Savior, Jesus Christ. Christ has fully paid for all my sins with Hisprecious blood and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He alsowatches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without thewill of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for mysalvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me ofeternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to livefor Him.”

Isn’t thatan outstanding Q&A?! I love it. Here are a few reasons why.

It makes acorrect assumption at the outset, namely, that we all seek comfort. After a badday, some people go shopping. Some head for the bar. Some reach for their favoritecomfort food—ice cream, chicken soup, nachos, cookie dough. The salve of choicevaries from person to person, but we all look to something to dress the woundsof our weary soul. We all seek comfort.

I also lovethat it jars us with a deeply counterintuitive answer. Our “only comfort inlife and death” is total surrender. Our gut tells us otherwise. When we feelunsettled, our first reaction is to protect ourselves, to take control, tomaster our own fate. Usually the furthest thought from our minds is recklessabandonment, but that’s exactly the comfort the Catechism offers: “That I amnot my own, but belong” to someone else. Comfort is found in remembering that Iam not in control.

I love itsrealism. It’s easy to feel comfortable when all is well, but the Catechismdoesn’t live in that world. It names the very worst things in the universe:death, sin, and the devil. This is a real-world answer for real-world problems.

And I lovethat the whole thing is rooted in the gospel. Notice the language: “paid forall my sins,” “precious blood,” “set me free,” “my salvation,” “eternal life.”These are gospel phrases and gospel terms, all of them. And the gospel is themost precious, most comforting news in the universe.