Saturday, July 4, 2015

When Church Mirrors Culture

Asked by a complimentary follower to write an "America Is Still Great" piece on his blog, nationally known columnist Matt Walsh responded:
"I’m sorry but I can’t give you exactly what you want, unless you want something better and truer than the sort of fraudulent ‘hopefulness’ and ‘optimism’ most people seek these days. . . . They want it like funnel cake: sweet, empty and quickly digested. I could give you that, but I won’t. I could write patronizing, pandering nonsense telling you everything is fine, this country is awesome, and the future will be bright and filled with lollipops and puppy dog farts.
"But what good would it do, besides win me some PR points? If you want hope, it needs to be planted firmly in truth, or else it’s like administering morphine while you die of kidney failure. It’ll make you feel better for a time, but it won’t save you."
What Mr. Walsh says about the American electorate also applies to the pop-Christianity out there, and could easily be spoken by any faithful Lutheran pastor and echoed in the congregations that maintain and "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints," as per Jude v. 3.
Our Lutheran churches and pastors don't tell you to, "Be happy, it's all good"--or, for that matter, to "Be good and it's all going to be happy." One look around, one newscast, tells you otherwise. And if that's not enough, the truth of Eden lost and fallen man cannot be overcome by any amount of happy thoughts or the power of optimism. That truth is that "the wages of sin is still death (Romans 6:23) , just as it has been since the man and woman God first created perfect to live forever, decided they needed something better and truer than everything God had created for them.
The message of Scripture, the Good News the Church has been given to proclaim to the world and by which the baptized believer is saved, is much better and truer and more substantial than anything those charismatic politicians and pop-Christian motivators have to offer.
We have something far better, a hope for which we eagerly, yet patiently wait in faith along with the litany of the faithful saints of which Scripture speaks:
"And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." Hebrews 11:39-40
Our Lutheran churches and pastors exist for the sole purpose of delivering that which sinful men need most, that without which they cannot be saved, and that from which the other ancillary gifts of the Spirit proceed-- the grace of God in Christ Jesus that forgives sins and gives eternal life to all who believe it.

 "1] So that we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. 2] Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given (John 20:22). He works faith, when and where it pleases God (John 3:8), in those who hear 3] the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake. This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ's sake.
4] Our churches condemn [all churches and teachers] who think that through their own preparations and works the Holy Spirit comes to them without the external Word." [Augsburg Confession Article V: of The Ministry]
If you want hope, firmly planted in truth, that doesn’t just get you through the day but lasts forever, find a Lutheran Church and pastor that deliver the goods week after week, Sunday after Sunday, in the Word and Sacrament of the Divine Service.
We leave the funnel cakes and puppy dog farts to others--or at least save them for our picnics and bazaars.

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