The Practice of the Christian Faith
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God… Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise… submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2, 15, 21
One of the unfair criticisms of Lutheranism is that it is not practical or does not provide direction for daily life. Drawn from the Scriptures, Lutheran theology always seeks to focus on Christ and His saving work. However, that is not all that the Scriptures teach. In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we find beautiful excursuses on the riches of God’s grace in chapters 1 and 2 and the mystery that this grace is also for the Gentiles in chapter 3. In chapter 4, he describes what this grace means for our life together as Christ’s Church and then begins to make applications for our daily lives. The life of the Christian flows from the riches of God’s grace in Christ.
Our response to God’s grace occurs specifically within our varied vocations. In chapters 5 and 6, Paul describes how those redeemed by the blood of Christ and saved by God’s grace live in relationship to others. This Table of Duties, like the one found in Colossians chapters 3 and 4, highlights how Christians are called to serve God in response to His service of them in their unique callings within the home and at work. These callings provide both direction and freedom. The husband or wife are called to serve their spouse and have specific God given responsibilities. Likewise, parents or children have unique roles within the home. However, all Christians have freedom in the how they serve in the home or church, at work or in the community. The point is that since Christ has so loved and served us, we then love and serve those whom God has given us to serve in our varied vocations.
We do not all have the same occupations, nor are all citizens active in the same within their communities. Parents do not all have the same gifts, but are all gifted by God to serve those under their care. Ephesians 5-6 and Colossians 3-4, like the Table of Duties in the Small Catechism, are helpful reminders for Christians. We do not serve in those ways out of fear of God or to earn His love. Rather since Christ loved and served us through His death and resurrection, through His Word and Sacrament, we are freed to love and serve others in response to God’s grace and love. This means that Christians are free to serve as poll workers in the community or run for city council. Church members may serve in elected positions or behind the scenes in bringing or delivering food. Parents and spouses serve their families as they lead their loved ones in the Word of God and pray for those in their care. The Christian faith, as taught and practiced by Lutherans is inherently practical as we are loved and served by God and then freed to love and serve those to whom He sends us.
Prayer - Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan