“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
—2 Corinthians 4:5
One faithful Lutheran school teacher once told me that everyday he would tell the students in his classroom that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for the forgiveness of their sins, so that they might live with him in heaven forever. He repeated it every day because he never wanted the students to go home without hearing the Gospel. One faithful Lutheran pastor is well known for his axiom, “The Gospel assumed is the Gospel not preached.” As faithful servants of God in a variety of callings and settings, we are all called to bear witness to Christ. Some are called to preach on behalf of a congregation, others are called to speak the Gospel in their homes in their vocations as parents. We never assume that the people around us know the Gospel or have no need for the Gospel. Each and every day we are surrounded by Christians whose knees buckle under the weight of their own sins and who desperately need to hear that Christ died and rose for them and for His sake they are forgiven. Nothing assumed.
Whether it is a conflict among church leaders or a disagreement among siblings, the Gospel is the source of all restoration and healing both in our relationships with God and one another. Our vocabulary in the Church assumes far too much. Nothing could raise the level of our discourse more than words about Christ and His forgiveness and love for sinners. Only Christ could restore the relationship between God and His wayward children. Only Christ can bring true reconciliation to relationships worn and frayed because of hard hearts and stiff necks. But it is in speaking the Gospel to one another that we are truly servants of God.
Many pastors bear untold burdens because they have no one to whom they can confess their sins and from whom they can hear Absolution. While leaders in the Church may “know” the Gospel, we never assume that they have heard the Gospel spoken to them by another or that they have heard Christ’s forgiveness spoken to them. Our world needs less abbreviations and emojis and more words about Jesus Christ, our Savior. May God fill our ears, our hearts and our lips with His Gospel so that we might speak such gracious words to one another.
Lord God, bless Your Word, wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life, that as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan