Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Choosing agendas. . .
The culture has adopted as normal nearly all the things those went before us could not even conceive -- from reproductive technology to gender fluidity, and to a world in pursuit of pleasure above all things. Ours is not simply to oppose such irrational ends and promote a Christian society but rather to speak the Gospel to sinners in chains because of their sins and to those condemned to death now and forevermore. The Gospel is not a step stool toward a higher cause of justice but justice, if there is any, is the fruit of a society in which the Gospel is proclaimed loudly and clearly.
How strange it is that the Church seems to weigh in on everything from movie reviews to gender issues and yet is without much of a voice to call even her own people to lives of holiness and righteousness! How strange it is when people equate the Church and the Gospel with a position on these issues instead of seeing the Church through the lens of Christ crucified and risen! How strange it is when the institutional survival of church structures becomes equated with the survival of the Church, the Bride of Christ! How strange it is that Christians battle for the dominance of their ideas but fail to manifest the cause of virtue, holiness, humility, and love in their daily lives!
The gift of the Gospel is the power to become the people God has declared us to be. Good works may not be worth a dime for saving us but that does not mean that good works are without value for the sake of our neighbor, for the witness to the faith, and for the glory of God. Love may seem impotent and laughable in a world where power is in the media and words become weapons as powerful as the ones we manufacture for war but we forget that love became incarnate for us and for our salvation and love triumphed in the ultimate sacrifice of the cross.
The preaching of the Church must not neglect the call to holiness and the sanctification of life even as the cross and our justification is proclaimed. Yet this seems to be missing when our people gather in the Lord's House on the Lord's Day. We face the triumph of liberty which is soiled in the pursuit of trivial things that become our undoing. True freedom is expressed most of all by our submission to the gracious will of God and our pursuit of love for our neighbor. What none can be compelled to do has become our free calling and vocation by the gift of God in baptism.
Right doctrine is surely connected to right praise but it is also connected to right living. Even though we freely admit and confess that right living is difficult and beyond our grasp this side of glory, it should not reduce our passion or our pursuit of this goal. All are tied together. We cannot pick and choose which rightness we will pursuit -- not some theoretical orthodoxy of the mind which fails to manifest a liturgical orthodoxy or practice and not a liturgical orthodoxy of worship which fails to manifest a vocational orthodoxy of life. Right doctrine sings and it sings a song that is the anthem of our new lives created in Christ Jesus for good works.
Until we get this, we will simply be fighting battles without a sense of who we are, whose we are, what what we are here for. . .