Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One of the joys of our congregation is the conversation that we have in Adult Bible Class. We have been known to get through only one question in a study! Here in the gathering of our fellow Christians we have junior high through senior citizens sharing experiences and gaining strength from their brothers and sisters in Christ. We talk about the struggle of living in these times and the challenges that face us.
Frustrations can occur when we want others to have our same worldview. We may have friends, family, or co-workers that see things differently than us. I get dragged into many of these situations because I am a Pastor. What I try to remind all of us is this: “We cannot change hearts; only God can.” This does not mean we sit on the sidelines though. We need to be in the arena, participating in the dialogue game.
I recently read in one of my theological journals an essay by a Lutheran clergyman in Norway. It doesn’t paint a very good picture of what has happened to the church. He writes, “The sad story of the downfall of the Lutheran churches in Scandinavia…is the story of what happens when false doctrine, un-Biblical teaching, is not refuted. It is like gangrene: if it is not cut off, it will spread and in the end lead to death. The guarding of Biblical doctrine to the Christian Church is the same as the immune system is to our bodies. It safeguards us from dangerous infections that might threaten life itself. We all know what happens if the immune system fails.”
Lutherans in these countries are an endangered species. He says that Lutherans are represented in name only, not in reality.
This Pastor’s message though is to be of good courage. He says to build on God’s Word because through this foundation we have the strength no matter what the world throws our way. He reminds us as I have heard over and over that “during times of adversity and trouble…the church of Christ has gained health and found her way back to her true identity.”
We “Stand Up, Stand Up, For Jesus” because Christ died and rose for us. Be of good courage and we will see you in worship and Bible Class where we gain the Lord’s strength for battle through His Word and Sacraments.