“What is your only comfort in life and in death?”Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1
This year we have been using the New City Catechism in our Kingdom Kids ministry and as a church community. The first question, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” is modeled directly on the first question of Heidelberg catechism of 1563. It’s a good question. The short version answer is, “That we are not our own, but belong to God.”
I wonder how we answer this in the United States today. My comfort is in my physical health? My comfort is in my bank account balance? My comfort is in my possessions? Job security? Relationship status?
Those answers might apply to comfort in life, but when you add the “comfort in death” dimension, they lose their relevance. In short, on your death bed those answers will leave you without comfort.
In contrast, here’s the first part of the original answer:
“That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1
So the truth of the gospel provides real comfort in life and in death. Through faith in Jesus we are adopted into his family. By his blood we were redeemed—bought for a price. We actually belong to Jesus, our faithful savior. Here are 4 practical ways this truth applies to our daily lives:
Because I belong to Jesus, I am forgiven of my sins past, present and future.
This truth gives us hope and comfort when we fail. It motivates us to dust get up, ourselves off, and continue to persevere in the faith.
Because I belong to Jesus, every circumstance of my life must work for my good.
This truth gives us hope and comfort when we are bombarded by life’s drama. This includes the small drama of traffic, laundry, and paper cuts and the big drama of break-ups, getting laid off, and cancer. So by faith, we trust our great God and walk with him through the ups and downs.
Because I belong to Jesus, I am guaranteed of future rest and glory.
This truth gives us the big picture perspective we need. Perhaps this is most relevant when we are in pain, or mourning, or have experienced a severe wrong. We long for things to be right—physically, institutionally, economically, culturally, morally, and spiritually. One day, they will be.
Because I belong to Jesus, I have a purpose for every day.
This truth gives us hope and comfort that our daily grind is more than a grind. Whether we are climbing mount Everest or going to elementary school, we have an opportunity to think, speak, and live for our Master.
May we live differently each day because we belong.
Bonus: Here’s the complete answer to question 1 in the Heidelberg catechism.
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.