Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How Christian Are Our Churches?

Earlier today, my son Philip, observed on his Facebook account:
What we should truly find disconcerting in the church is that so many of us are cultural Christians. We are partisans to ideologies, political beliefs, or even advertisements. We remove Scripture from the Gospel and wrap it around our ideology of church, then declare, "Here I stand upon this idol that will fall."
What insightful and disturbing thoughts about American cultural religion served up with a veneer of Christian religiosity!

I responded: 
That says it all, Phil!

That's why the Lutheran movement has so much to offer to the whole Christian family and to a world in need of Christ.

The world needs the five "solas," the five alones:

  • By Scripture alone!
  • By faith alone!
  • By grace alone!
  • By Christ alone!
  • To the glory of God alone!

Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God”

The one true, living, life-giving God is the only one revealed in Christ, Who inspired the only book from God, the Bible, Who saves people from sin and death not by their works or ideologies, but ony as an act of His charitable grace extended on His initiative and not any human beings', only to those who open themselves to the creation of faith in Jesus Christ within them!

"There is salvation in no one [and nothing] else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

All other ground--ideologies, patriotism, family, sexual identity, ethnic identity, racial identity, money, prominence, the world's affirmation--is sinking sand. When we put our trust in the world's godlets, including ourselves, we die. When we put our trust in the God made plain to all in Christ, we live, now and in eternity.

Only Christ can make a person right with the One Who made us all.

Only Christ can set us free to be the people we were made to be by God.

Only Christ can set us free from the godlets that lie to us about where peace and hope are found, and set us free to live as children of God.

It's a sin that both in churches that call themselves liberal and those that call themselves conservative, they worship idol versions of God, versions in which the God they claim to follow is made in their image. He likes their politics. He likes their political parties. He likes their political policy preferences. He's even in accord with their preferences on how items in the federal budget ought to be expended. (We see this all the time in the ELCA, which is moving away from Christ by steady, alarming increments every day, it seems.)

I'm not part of a conservative Church or a liberal Church. I'm part of Christ's Church, one body that exists wherever Christ's Gospel is rightly proclaimed and His Sacraments are rightly administered.

Christ will not be pushed into the boxes we like. His task is not to let Him be a milquetoast we make over in our image, but to make us over in His image all those who dare to surrender to Him and dare to have their old selves killed so that their new selves can rise in the process of daily repentance and renewal in Christ's Name.

When we believe in Jesus, we submit to a kind of violent revolution that goes on in our lives--our minds, our wills, our emotions--every day. We give the inventor the right to retool us to function as we were made to function. We give the author the right to rewrite all the dreadful chapters we've come up with on our own. We let God restore us to our right minds, no longer functioning as zombies in a death march in which the tune is played by the gods that, first, we choose, and then call their tune to their devotees, robbing them of any real meaning for their lives, and then leave them writhing in eternal separation from God.

The Church needs to be about living for and pointing the world to Christ as our only hope.

If the Church cannot speak with clarity about the only Source for life and hope--Jesus Christ--the world is in trouble. And the failure of the body of Christ to live for Christ alone is an abomination, damnable. May God have mercy on us!

Great thoughts, Philip!

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