God’s Call to a life of witness and service and self-giving love!

An Excerpt from The Evangelizing Church: A Lutheran Contribution:

As Lutherans, we know that there is absolutely nothing we could ever do or say or be that could make God love us more. We know that God comes down! God comes down in the word and in the meal and in the water of baptism and within the Christian community.  God shows up whenever and wherever we are at worship or at work.  God came down, most astonishingly of all, in Jesus.  God comes down to save us and to set us free, and there is nothing we could ever do to make our way up to God. …

For too long, Lutherans in the United States and throughout the West have allowed this article – and the assurance of this most wonderful gift – to lull us to sleep.  We have burrowed down into our comfortable dens, surrounded by all the familiar trappings of ethnic and cultural heritage, and allowed our faith to slip into hibernation.  We have taken the gift for granted. And, in the meantime, there is a world that lies just outside our door, groaning in pain, hungry for anything that will fill it up and make it whole, wrecked by sin and longing to become everything it was created to be.  This is God’s world.  And it is a world that God deeply loves, a world Christ died to save.  This world needs what we have been given, although at this point most people would never even think to look to us for help or answers. …

We know that, unless we do this [make big changes in the way we live, worship, learn, and work together], our churches will continue to dwindle and, perhaps, eventually even die.  We invent programs to address these problems and craft inspired slogans to stir the troops to action. But nothing, it seems, can move us – really move us – to take the kind of action or be the kind of church that makes a difference to the legions of people in our communities who believe that we are irrelevant. Even some of us are hard pressed to say what it is that makes our faith something other people might need. We are hard pressed to say what it is that makes our faith something other people might need. We, too, have bought into the popular notion that faith is a private thing and a matter of personal preference; that any story is as good as the gospel Story; that truth is relative. …

He [God] calls us out of the hollow emptiness of our sleepy lives and sets us free for a life that means something, a life of witness and service and self-giving love, a life that gives itself away for the sake of the world.  Christ has given us a most wonderful gift. So what? So that we can really live!  The gift Christ gives is not a blanket of forgiveness that we can wrap around us to keep us warm and dry.  The gift Christ gives is a wake-up call! It is a call to a new life.  To reject this call is to reject the gift.  To ignore this call is to ignore the gift.  The two cannot be separated.

This may come as quite a shock to those of us who are used to thinking that because our salvation is a gift, we don’t have to do anything. Some of us want to stay hiding, tucked safely away in a burrow of our quiet churches. We are perfectly content knowing that Hollywood has bought our Lake Wobegon image of humble, harmless Lutheranism enough to feature us in its latest blockbuster movies. But God has other plans for us.  Through us, God wants to bless the world.

From: The Evangelizing Church: A Lutheran Contribution. Editors are Richard H. Bliese and Craig Van Gelder.  Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005, pages 11-13.

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