But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.
A Navy Chaplain recently described the challenges and the joys of the spiritual care of those who serve in the Armed Forces. While he listed a number of challenges, I was surprised to hear of one of his greatest joys. He said that preaching at the “General Protestant” service is always an opportunity to which he looks forward, because those who have attended have seldom—if ever—heard the Gospel. They have heard preachers who have explicated God’s Word, but they have so often been burdened with the Law. He loves seeing those who have been held captive by their sins finally set free through Christ.
The Christian faith is not a list of rules or a five steps to heaven. The Christian faith is a Baby in a manger and a Savior on a cross and a Victor who emerges from the grave. Lutheran theology, in particular, is not about Luther about Christ for us in the Word, at the font and table. God’s solution to humanity’s plight was not to give us a series of clues or a path so that we can make it back to God. Instead, God came down to earth to rescue us from sin and death. There are lots of deities in the world today, but no other belief system teaches that God came down to earth and became like one of us. The other distinctive feature of Lutheran theology is the emphasis on grace alone. Other belief systems teach that we are saved by our own works or that we get what we deserve (“karma”). The Christian faith that is drawn from the Scriptures teaches that we are saved solely by God’s grace. When Christ cries out from the cross, “It is finished!” we find comfort knowing that our debt has been paid as a gift from God.
There are many challenges among our Lutheran churches today, just as there have always been. But it is still a joy for all of us to tell people the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether you are a pastor or a parent, a teacher or a student, we all are given the opportunity to tell people the beautiful good news that we are saved by God’s grace for the sake of Christ. That is why the Lutheran Church exists to proclaim the eternal Gospel to all the world.
Prayer – O Lord, almighty God, as You have always granted special gifts of the Holy Spirit to Your Church on earth, grant Your continual blessing to all who minister in Your name in the armed forces, that by Your gracious working they may honor Christ and advance the good of those committed to their care; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan