Monday, July 27, 2009

Going or Being

My mind got to thinking this morning. I recall seeing some former members of our congregation here for a funeral, and afterwards they were talking to folks (guests from out of town), and they said, "Oh, we go to __________ Baptist Church." This got me to thinking.

A lot of times we speak of Church in terms of going - I go here, where do you go, things like that. However, that is really an non-Lutheran, non-catholic way of speaking. The question was never to be where you are going, but rather where you belong. I belong to ________ Lutheran Church. I am a member of _________ Lutheran Church. And often it would come out with the firm declaration - "I am Lutheran".

I remember really upsetting one of my friends in college when I would say, "I'm a Lutheran." It would really upset her - I was such a vibrant and complex person, how could I put myself in a box like that. The fact that I saw *being* Lutheran as part of my own identity, part of who I am, was in many ways intimidating and frightening to her.

But, it needs to be being, it really does. If one's relationship is just an active verb, is just "I go to", you aren't really in it. It's that being - it needs that concrete description of what you are.

Think back to high school or college days - there was a vast difference between, "Oh, I just hang out with ________" and "________ is my girlfriend." If you are just "doing" something, it's incidental, it can change, it can flit away at your whim. If you are something - well, that's something else entirely.

Be not afraid to be "Lutheran" (and don't give me that "well, I prefer to say Christian instead of Lutheran" stuff - Lutherans have the correct beliefs, be not ashamed of knowing just what Christ's redemption actually entails for you) - to have that be your identity - because the Christian life is not about what we do, not about our decisions or works - but rather it is about who we are - forgiven sinners made into new creations in Christ Jesus.

Christianity isn't a doing thing - it's a being thing.


Christopher D. Hall said...

A former member of RLC told a current member, "I go to X Baptist Church. I have now for ten years." The member responded, "Oh, so should we take you off our membership?"

He responded, "No way! I'm Lutheran! I'll never be Baptist."

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

That's why I didn't butt in and ask that very question. . .