July 15, 2023
1 The Lord Is My Shepherd. A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
the stamp which I am showing you today commemorates the re-opening of the inner-German border in 1989. This border divided Germany into east and west, into a dictatorship and a free country, a Democracy. When walls and border fences came down, many people from the East drove to the free West for the first time in their lives. I still remember well standing at a highway gas station next to a light blue Trabi ( the name of a famous East German car, which you can see on the stamp). A young man was filling up his little car. He was beaming with joy. At last, he could travel by car wherever he wanted. At last, he was free. I rejoiced with him!
After the fall of the inner-German border, there was only one direction for many people: Westward. Not to be able to travel as a refugee, but as a free person in a free country.
Psalm 23 also speaks of freedom. The good shepherd Jesus leads us into freedom. He frees people from the dictatorship of sin and leads them on the path of righteousness. God always leads us on the path of justice. He vouches for this with his name. God never leads men into injustice. He never leads into oppression. Because injustice and oppression are sins. God does not want injustice.
“So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” Jesus Christ is saying (Gospel of John 8:36). Whoever has experienced this freedom can no longer oppress his fellow human beings, can no longer treat them unjustly.
The freedom that Jesus Christ gives us changes life. The new freedom that Jesus provides makes us able to meet our fellow human beings with love. For God is love (1 John 4:16b). To love means to treat the other with esteem and respect. To love means to avoid all injustice and every form of oppression. To love means to give no more room to deceit and lies.
The good shepherd Jesus leads us on the road of righteousness. David speaks of the "path of righteousness" in his Psalm. It is a narrow path however, not a highway. This path of righteousness does not lead us Christians through sunny, glorious landscapes. The path of righteousness leads right through the middle of a dark world of injustice and oppression, violence, and sin. But our good shepherd the Lord Jesus guarantees by his name that we will reach our destination safely on this path.
How about inviting the people we meet along the way who do not yet know God's justice? Who do not yet know his love and mercy? What would it be like to invite our fellow human beings to walk the path of righteousness with Jesus Christ and thus come to know the new way of life of freedom?
Whoever accepts this invitation can rejoice with all his heart. Like that young driver at the gas station. Let us fill up with God's love, let us fill our hearts with God's righteousness.
Thank you for listening to me. I cordially invite you to our next devotion with stamps on August 1st with Psalm 23, 4. Until then I wish you God's blessing and preservation through the good shepherd Jesus in spirit, soul, and body.