Sliding into a Culture of Death

Devotional Thought of the Day.

As a society, we love to play God.

And we are fascinated by death  – both physical death, and spiritual death.

All you have to do is peruse blogs and facebook this day, and see that we are doing battle over death constantly.  First there is the HHS mandate, and the idea that anyone but churches need to pay for abortions – that is, we need to pay for our insurance to pay for the option to abort.  Church leaders of many denominations are fighting this, and sometimes – they are fighting other church leaders who hold the opposite view.  It is very sad, even more so when we realize that the pro-life movement is re-trenching around this.  We used to challenge abortion as a whole, now we are reduced to fighting who is responsible for it.

Even as all the focus is on abortion and the Health Care Mandate, there is another battle brewing on the horizon.  In Massachusetts, the state where I was born, the looms a battle over Doctor assisted suicide.  It is on the ballot there, as it has been in Oregon.  Again we as a country are being decided whether some have the right to play God, and determine whether a life has the value or lacks it, and should be terminated with prejudice.  Yes – prejudice, for if we make the decision that a life, whether in the womb or in their 90’s isn’t worth it, we are deciding the issue based on prejudice.

But I would bring up one more way that we, as the church, are faced with “sliding into a culture of death”, although sliding may be a bit of an understatement.  We condone spiritual death with much more ease and much more frequency than we do physical death.  We do this, in two ways, one very active and violent, the other, passive and without care or compassion.

ACTIVE CONDEMNATION:  This is the first way in which we embrace a culture of death.  When we outright condemn others – (for instance, those who back abortion or euthenasia) because we feel they are too evil.  In doing so, we steal the authority of God and make a determination only He has the right and authority to make.  (Yes, God gives the church the authority to bind the sins of those in our midst who are unrepentant – but that is so they will learn to repent – and more importantly, its in regards to those we are actively and personally calling to repentance)   When we condemn someone, when we mock and deride them (see the Sermon on the Mount) we are committing murder in thought and word even as others commit it in deed.
We can judge them, call and encourage them to depend on God’s mercy, without damning and condemning them.

The other way is more subtle, and shows  a lack of care, and indeed a lack of compassion.  It is when we decide, actively or passively, that there is no need for them to know Jesus, to be embraced by His love and mercy, to be given the opportunity to know the life that is germinated as faith and repentance is given to them.  We know how it happens, in hearing the gospel, in the Holy Spirit working through word and sacrament to create and nurture that life.  And we passively and again with prejudice, let them continue to live without the knowledge of God, save what they can learn through nature.

In all four of the above ways, we see the church and the world sliding into death.  Sliding into the seemingly inevitable consequence of sin’s dominion.  Death, both physical and spiritual.

Except that it is not – there is always God’s gospel, the call to not take life, but to sustain it.  The call to not terminate, but to enourage.  The call to not condemn, but to talk and offer forgiveness.  There is One who embraced death, so that we would not have to – that we could live, and even if we physically pass, we shall live forever.  For that is where death is defeated, as Jesus hangs on the cross, and asks the Father to forgive us all….

May we realize He has, and even as we realize how that frees us to live, may we help others to see it as well.

Lord Have Mercy… and thank you Lord, for letting us know You have!

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on September 21, 2012, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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