Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I am Nothing

The contemporary praise hymn, I am Nothing, by Jeremy Camp realistically portrays our part in all of this. Without our Lord and Savior, we are indeed nothing. From the first verse, “I realize I'm still clay, And this piece that's being shaped, Will be a beauty you create.” Of our own volition we tend to tarnish the beauty instilled in us by our Creator. In our vain attempts to express our inner self, we engage in foolish behavior and indulge in decadent pleasures. In our arrogance we deceive ourselves into believing that we are superior beings, but in reality we truly are lost without our Lord. Without a potter, the clay remains a formless lump. With our Father’s help, we all can be made to be a thing of beauty. Isaiah 64:8, “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.“ When we take it upon ourselves to disregard our God and decide to go it alone using our own imperfect judgment, we will invariably end up making a mess of things. We must deny the self, surrender our selfish cravings, give ourselves to our God, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with our Savior’s love. Only then will we be able to approach that which our Lord desires.

Yet, the leaders of the ELCA continue to celebrate the self and minimize our Lord’s role in their ministry. Why is it so difficult for the leaders of the ELCA to realize that it is Christ first? When you please yourself instead of pleasing God, you worship yourself.  Why do they not understand that our primary purpose as Christ’s church is to bring the lost to Him? Why do they continue to accept that which God prohibits, and place a greater emphasis on simply maintaining fellowship? When God’s church allows doctrine that deemphasizes sin and cares not about repentance, it places its’ member’s very salvation at risk. If the ELCA allows doctrine promoting salvation without Christ, how can they still be part of Christ’s church? 1 Peter 1:8-9, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Many in the ELCA chastise those obedient to God’s word, calling them hateful and intolerant. Obeying God’s word does not make one intolerant. We are called to be obedient to God’s word. God’s word also commands us to love one another, as He loves us. No sinner is any better than the next and we are all sinners. Why do those that consider themselves so tolerant, also the one’s spewing hatred at those who try to remain obedient out of their love for the Lord? Romans 3:21-26, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,i through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

The ELCA proclaims God’s work, our hands as their mission statement. Is it really God’s work when social justice is promoted above the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? So much of what the ELCA calls God’s work is contrary to His will. It is difficult to understand the logic used by the leaders of the ELCA when they promote universalism, the gospel of affirmation and bound conscience. Yes, most members of the ELCA still hold to the foundational beliefs of Christianity, but these false gospels lurk in the wings and are more frequently emerging in mainline denominational assemblies, conferences, retreats, and are prevalent in theological discussions, writings and seminaries. How long before more are convinced to accept these improper doctrines? We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. Why is the ELCA so obsessed with reaching out to those whose identities they believe are at the fringe? Our identities should be as Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ, not some earthly definition of ourselves. When we place identities as central to our existence, we only reject our God and worship ourselves.

I am Nothing finishes with the chorus, “I am nothing without Your love. I'm unworthy but Your death has been enough. I'm completed by Your touch, But I feel like I've been given so much. I am nothing. You are everything. So I thank you. I thank you. Lord I thank you.” We have been given so much by our Savior. We truly are nothing without Him. It is time to abandon the identities that we create for ourselves and elevate our Savior to His rightful place. No one is on the fringe. We are all God’s children, brothers and sisters in Christ. We must reach out to everyone with the Good News of Jesus Christ and help bring them to the Lord.

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