So, I guess I can write anything, right? Unicorns are real. I can dunk a basketball. I met a leprechaun last August. No - get it together Matt - those are ridiculous, here’s something better:
Every sunset (because of the way light refracts) is painted JUST FOR YOU. You are the ONLY one who will see that beauty, ever. (If you don’t believe me, try taking a picture of it - it NEVER captures what YOU see in its completeness). That’s better…
For the last thirteen years, I literally have preached the same thing. [SPOILER ALERT] for those of you that don’t want to know what all my next sermons are about: God loves you. Broken as you are. Jesus will one day make all things new, including all of us. So, therefore, act like it. GO and be gospel to a world in need.
Now, as I say that, over and over and over, I am finding that more and more, we - the people of God - are ACTUALLY called to do something. Just sitting back and thinking, “cool. Jesus is awesome!” (Which by the way is SUPER accurate…) isn’t actually doing anything to share the gospel message. Bonhoeffer actually described that as “cheap grace”. It means just thinking, “wow the gospel is great”, but then not really acting on it. Some might say, “okay, yeah, but I am not an axe murderer or a thief or a jerk, so what gives, Pastor Matt??” That, my brothers and sisters, is a great START, but that can’t be it…
God calls us to not only reflect the light of Christ, but BE the gospel for a world waiting to hear it. That means living out the baptismal calling. If you haven’t heard it in a while, here you go:
To live among God’s faithful people
To hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s Supper
To proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed
To serve all people following the example of Jesus
To strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
Sounds pretty incredible right?!? I mean, WHAT IF we all read those over every morning and got busy doing them? What might life look like for all those around us if this was what we filled ourselves with instead of CNN, FOX, Reddit or whatever news source you use. What if we woke up and read scripture and prayed and then reflected on the way to work (or over our morning cup of coffee) how God might actually be CALLING ME to do something with this grace I so abundantly receive.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
That is beautiful. And I guess what I am suggesting might sound a little intense - well, then, good. It might be hitting close to home for a lot of us. I get that. I hear you. However, this is what it means to BE a Lutheran. Our call is to be bold in faith and know that God will provide the words and the means and the OPPORTUNITY to share the gospel. Cheap grace can’t be a thing for us.
Now, I realize that no one reads the blog. And even if you made it this far, you’re likely one of a very few, but maybe today there’s a little movement to get busy in our faith, and perhaps that calling is to do it in a whole new way?
We hear statistics all the time about how the church is dying. Well, I am here to tell you that while numbers decrease, the church will never die. She’s the bride of Christ. She’s driven by God’s support and momentum. So…perhaps if that’s the case, maybe God is trying to get our attention. I mean if everything was all hunky-dory, we’d just go about our business and not notice our calling, wouldn’t we? What if the Lord of all knows that the only way to get us to change our behavior is to show us that the status quo (gathering on Sunday every once in a while when we don’t have soccer, popping into a few event things here and there as it’s convenient, keeping our giving up but not engaging deeper than that) won’t work anymore.
So…. And hear me out on this…
Maybe God wants us to do something different - change our daily patterns.
That, brothers and sisters is what it means to be Lutheran. Be (RE)formed by God, daily.
And the best part of all of this? YOU were created by God, imperfections and all, to be a particular part of the gospel message. YOU have been gifted, invited and challenged - in way ONLY YOU can - to uniquely share the gospel. YOU are a unique sunset that someone else NEEDS to see. READ THAT LAST LINE 3 times, then SAY IT out loud.
GO. Away from status quo. Stop it from being the norm
GO. Into deeper relationship with the Lord and each other
GO. Into the places where the needy and the broken are hurting
GO. With confidence in God’s grace
GO. With the love of Jesus overflowing from your every breath
GO. To make the church HAPPEN
GO. Knowing YOU are a UNIQUE vision of the gospel for someone in your life RIGHT NOW
GO. Knowing that God loves this church, loves God’s people, and LOVES YOU beyond measure
I hope you read this.