Dear Friends in Christ,
Chapter 6 in the book Faith That Sees Through the Culture is the first big duality or paradox discussed in the book. It is extraordinarily important and is the theological basis for the truism: "never judge a book by its cover," or "things are not as they seem." Behind this from a Christian theological perspective, is the theology of the cross. When our Lord was on the cross of Calvary, He appeared as anything but the Victor overcoming sin, death, and the power of the devil. What the world "saw" was a dying man in agonizing pain. And to add insult to injury, one who saved others, but was helpless for saving Himself. He could not back-up His claim to be the Son of God, because He would not (evidently could not) come down from the cross as He was dying. To the fleshly eye: He was failure.
What appeared to be the case, however, was categorically not the case at all. Instead, the Lord remained on the cross precisely to finish the work of atoning for the sins of the world and winning the forgiveness of sins and overflowing life (yes, through His death) for all people who might hold to His victory through faith.
In this Gospel, wondrous news of God's loving and merciful work for us, we learn that things indeed are not as they seem. Instead, Christians do indeed walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7 which was the main Scriptural theme of the book Faith That Sees Through the Culture).
In the new book -- Engagement Triangle: Faith That Engages the Culture -- that I hope will come out by January, 2021, I summarized the right perspective on the chapter elaborating upon 1st Peter 3:15, the biblical perspective for loving engagement with people for the sake of truly serving the neighbor with the life-saving and life-giving Gospel of Christ. The point here in the "Luther syllogism" I propose, is that Christians have good reason to have hope against all appearances contrary to hope. Why?
Premise 1: God works good through what appears to us as either good or bad.
Premise 2: When we sanctify Christ in our hearts and live in faith, God works good.
Conclusion: Therefore, whatever happens to us good or bad, [we may] affirm God working good."
God is working good even through the terrible circumstances we are facing at this time with the coronavirus. This does not make the virus itself good. It isn't, but what the Lord will do in the midst of it, especially through the demonstration that human beings have continued to pour out sacrificial love toward their neighbor, shows the world that there are indeed signs of our gracious God. Look at the neighbor who serves at great risk. This is love.
In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa