Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Yes, we are all sinners. No matter how hard we try to live a godly life, we all fall woefully short. Before you fall into despair, know this; John 3; 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Does this mean that sin is irrelevant? Even though we are saved by the grace of God and need only to believe, we are still expected to endeavor to follow God’s law to the best of our ability. But, sin is much more than our disobedience of God’s laws. Timothy Keller explains in The Reason for God “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from Him.” Our relationship is damaged with God when we give our own self identities, whether you view yourself as a conservative, liberal, police officer, LGBT, business executive, etc., precedence over our true calling, being a faithful servant of God. We must relinquish our own identities in order to place God first and foremost. If we fail to do so, we will remain apart from Him.
When our Lord suffered and died on the cross for us, He took with Him all our sin, all that had been committed and all that were yet to come. Without our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ dying in our place, we would be forever prevented from entering His kingdom. In addition to His death on the cross, our Lord felt the terrible aloneness when God the Father abandoned the personal relationship with Him as the atonement for our sinful natures. All the sins of the world and the abandonment by His Father brought our Lord Jesus Christ to a deep despair beyond all comprehension. But, when we place self above the Lord, we bring the same despair and aloneness to ourselves. We must also learn to suffer for our Lord. 1 Peter 3:14-15 "But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
While we are called to respect and love all our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must still recognize that the path that the Lord has set before us is not the easy path. Matthew 7: 13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” There is much division in the ELCA. It may seem that the leaders of the ELCA have taken the broad road of acceptance and entered the wide gate of tolerance, and by doing so are leading many fellow Christians away from God. David S. Yeago said, while addressing the schism that has developed between the traditional and progressive factions of the ELCA, “What the law demands, the gospel bestows.” The law demands righteousness, the gospel bestows righteousness, and it does so by bringing Christ to us and us to Christ. He is the living fulfillment of the law, the one in whom all that the law requires is fully and unquestionably realized. His righteousness covers our sin, when we become one with him by faith, but at the same time, he lives in us, which means that righteousness dwells in us, alive and triumphant, and we begin to live a new kind of life. But, if the gospel bestows what the law demands, then without agreeing substantially on what the law demands, we cannot agree on what the gospel bestows. And pushed to the end, such disagreement will easily turn into disagreement about Jesus Christ and his saving righteousness.”
When we fall out of communion with our Lord by placing one’s self above Him, we reject God’s laws and replace them with our own selfish set of principles. Once we begin to reject God’s laws that don’t fit in with our modern, enlightened view of the world, we begin to die in our sin. Glorifying the ideals of social justice over and above God’s law just increases the distance between us and our salvation. If we seek to be welcomed into the Lord’s kingdom, we must humble ourselves before Him. We need to dwell in the Word and grow nearer to our Lord, not reject the Word and replace it with our foolish desires. We need to share with those weak in the Spirit and lead them into communion with the Lord. We need to pray, long and hard, for those that lead the ELCA so that they reject their secular identity and rekindle their relationship with the Lord.