500 years since Luther, have we forgotten…
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
12 There has been enough time for you to be teachers—yet you still need someone to teach you the first lessons of God’s message. Instead of eating solid food, you still have to drink milk. 13 Anyone who has to drink milk is still a child, without any experience in the matter of right and wrong. 14 Solid food, on the other hand, is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14 (TEV)
11 It was he who “gave gifts to people”; he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. 12 He did this to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ. 13 And so we shall all come together to that oneness in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God; we shall become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ’s full stature. 14 Then we shall no longer be children, carried by the waves and blown about by every shifting wind of the teaching of deceitful people, who lead others into error by the tricks they invent. 15 Instead, by speaking the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head. 16 Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (TEV)
3 Although the people are supposed to be Christian, are baptized, and receive the holy sacrament, they do not know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, or the Ten commandments, 3 they live as if they were pigs and irrational beasts, and now that the Gospel has been restored they have mastered the fine art of abusing liberty.
4 How will you bishops answer for it before Christ that you have so shamefully neglected the people and paid no attention at all to the duties of your office? May you escape punishment for this!
5 You withhold the cup in the Lord’s Supper and insist on the observance of human laws, yet you do not take the slightest interest in teaching the people the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or a single part of the Word of God. Woe to you forever!
Next year is the 500th anniversary of the start fo the reformation, or at least one of the events that gave it some traction, the posting of an invitation to a discussion about practical theology.
What the host had thought to be a discourse that would make grace real, that would help people grow in faith; that would help them live in the peace which God had promised them. What he hoped would unify the church, shattered it.
Luther’s words in blue, from the introduction f the small catechism, a book for dad’s to teach their family about God, show the damage to the church then. Damage we see in the church at large now.
For our people are more focused on things of human invention than in the peace that comes from understanding the way of God, a way detailed in the Ten “Commandments” (the way we are described when we live in fellowship with the God who saved us) , the Creed, (the way God revealed Himself to us, that we may trust and depend upon Him) and the Lord’s prayer (the way we communicate and what we desire to know God is doing, that He promised).
Some of our people may know these from repetition, but how many know them. How many rejoice in this, and it drives them to know more? How many know these things so well that they are internalized, and affect their very lives?
We see the damage in the ways that people are blown about by every change of doctrine; we see it in the fact that they cannot teach why they trust in God to a neighbor over coffee. This problem isn’t new – the apostles dealt with it, (obviously) and so did Luther. They saw the imbalance between what was verbalized and what was confessed. What people said out of habit (or listened to) and what they knew.
In this day where the church, whether contemporary or traditional, missional or confession (terms used to distinguish the extremes in my movement) or however else the church can be divided is battered and broken, we need to return to the joy of our first love, to plunge into exploring the dimensions of God’s love, of how He reveals it, of how we live in it. For that changes everything, including how we look at one another. Including how we find ourselves reconciling rather than being divisive forces.
So let us pause, and think about how great this salvation is, how great it is that Jesus delivers us into the presence of the Father, who fills us with the spirit, and makes us His own. And let us rejoice in how he does that, even as it confronts us in our sin, brings us to faith, and to know He is with us.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 338). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.