Jesus’ Marching Orders as We Engage a Hostile Culture

Sporting events, movies, television shows, and concerts are not just forms of entertainment. Political statements and ideologies touch seemingly every facet of our lives. There are times when people just want to be entertained without identity politics becoming the central point. Faithful Christians can easily get frustrated with messages that are contrary to God’s Word and fall into the trap of overreacting to the culture in our responses.

In Luke 24, we find our Lord giving His Church marching orders (similar to what we find in Matthew 28). Luke writes, “[He] said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” (Luke 24:26-47) What is clear in Jesus’ words is that He died and rose again for all. The Father sent His beloved son to take upon Himself the punishment that all people deserved on account of sin. Christ died for all. There are no good people or bad people. There are only sinners for whom the Savior died.

Our Lord sends His Church to proclaim repentance and forgiveness, Law and Gospel. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Since God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, our proclamation contains both Law and Gospel so that the Holy Spirit can work faith when and where it pleases God. Our prayer is that through Law and Gospel the Holy Spirit will kill and make alive, will afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

The charge that Jesus gives is that this message is to be proclaimed to all nations. This includes those who ridicule or even hate Christ and His Word. The proclamation of this message is not to be confined to an hour or two on Sunday morning, but as individual Christians, bearing witness to Christ in their daily lives in their unique callings. The Gospel, in the broad sense, is to be proclaimed to Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, or whatever labels or tags may be applied to people. The people we interact with on a daily basis are people created by God in His own image and people for whom Christ Jesus died. Our response to the culture wars is simple and straightforward. We speak the truth of the Gospel in humility and love, seeking those who have strayed from Christ and those who have never even heard the Gospel.

From Lutheran schools to campus ministries, congregational outreach to individual Christians, our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would work through the proclamation of Law and Gospel to bring forgiveness, life, and salvation to troubled sinners that they may no longer live in fear, but in hope of the resurrection unto eternal life. May God bless the seeds of the Gospel that are sown throughout our congregations, schools, and the saints of God!

Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was born in Birmingham, Ala., and graduated from Concordia, Seward, Neb., in 1992. He holds both a Master of Divinity Degree (1996) and Doctorate of Ministry (2011) from Concordia Seminary. Hagan served as Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran in Concordia, Mo. (2002-2015) and was previously an Associate Pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Ind. (1996-2002). He has been President of The Missouri District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod since June 2015. Hagan also served as Interim Director, LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission (2011-12), on numerous District Boards both in Missouri and Indiana, and during multiple Synodical Conventions as a delegate and on Floor Committees. He is married to Jill and they have two children.