Wednesday, May 12, 2010

See the Big Picture

As much as we would like it to be, we are not isolated from the rest of the world. We often want to remain in our own little protected shell, secure that as long as we attend our church and listen to the inspired sermons of Pastor Jay we need not worry about what is going on in the greater church. We like to feel safe and comfortable and not have to worry about conflict or something new or unexpected. This is why it is easier to socialize with the same people that we are familiar with, rather than reaching out to new faces we see at church. As Christians, we have the responsibility to step out of our comfort zones and preach the Good News to the world. 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” We are Disciples of Christ, and as such, we are charged with the great responsibility to lead others to the Gospel of Christ. In our actions and our words, we are to set the kind of example that others may see and recognize that we are influenced by His Spirit.

Many thirst for the intimacy that comes with a relationship with Christ. Many only need to have the Good News shared with them to realize that relationship with Christ is what they have been searching for. When we emulate the life of Christ with our interaction with others, it may just open that door to an opportunity to witness for our Lord. Good works are important in this world, but if we fail to use those good works to help lead one astray to the Lord, we fail our responsibilities as disciples of Christ. The ELCA continues to do good works throughout the world, but they continue to fail to use those opportunities to give witness for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They persist in calling attention to, and praising themselves for their good works as they continue to strive for social justice. Jesus said in Matthew 6:1, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” The ELCA continues to boast of their intent to pursue social justice reforms. Social justice is  emphasized on their website and even their statement of “Who we are” leads with this goal in mind.

Bishop Mark Hansen stated that the ELCA intends to focus on and promote one particular social justice agenda item each year. All this emphasis on social justice while the ministry of our Lord plays second fiddle. Ephesians 2:8-10, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has a plan for us. We cannot earn our salvation by trying to take credit for our good work toward social justice. If we believe that our good work in fighting for social justice takes precedence over our mission to preach the Gospel of Christ, we fail as disciples of Christ. If we adopt a doctrine of bound conscience that allows us to disregard the parts of Scripture that are troubling or that we and our enlightened society disagree with, we are following a false gospel that leads us away from God.

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