Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A quote from Reu on Preaching...

"The Church, indeed, consists of men, each of whom as a citizen of an earthly kingdom is called upon to do his political duties, as well as his other duties in the name of the Lord Jesus. For ordinary purposes in ordinary life, it may not be important, or even perhaps possible, for a man to distinguish that which is incumbent on him as a citizen of an earthly realm from that which is incumbent upon him as a child in the family of God.

But the distinction is of vast importance in regard to those who are called to office and ministry in Christ’s Church. The terms of their commission lay down the limits of what they are to do by Christ’s authority; they have no commission to put the affairs of society right, or to eradicate the evils in this present naughty world. In the Gospel of the grace of God, they have committed to them the supreme means of touching men personally and inspiring them with high but practical ideals. This is the grandest work to which any man can give himself; and it is a miserable thing if he fails to put his best energies into this task, and prefers instead to compete with journalists and politicians in guiding some project for social reform.

It is to forsake the fountain of life and to strain at accomplishing some apparent improvement by taking up implements that are less certain and less effective, even for securing human welfare, than the means of grace instituted by Christ Himself… Christ sent His apostles on evangelistic work and bade them administer the sacraments and exercise pastoral care; but He did not enjoin them to agitate for social reforms."

- Johann Michael Reu, Homiletics

Reu was a professor in the old ALC - his catecatical questions were the ones my dad was raised on, and I tend to respect him highly.  When I accepted a call to be a pastor, I gave up on changing the world.  I was given to proclaim Him who conquers over the world and gives life and salvation. 

I have my political opinions - and I enjoy them.  But I'm not going to, as a pastor, try to be an agent of social reform.  Not my highest calling, it simply isn't. 

So - what of social changes that are coming, what of this or that, or culture falling apart!?!?

Consider the end of John. 
"Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”"

You are a Christian.  You are called out of darkness into His marvelous light. Well, so the world does foolish and crazy things, and God allows it.  What is that to you?  Follow Christ.  Let us keep our eyes focused upon Christ Jesus, the Author and Perfector of (not our faith, not our nation) our faith.


Jay Hobson said...

Wait a second... but I just saw on the history channel that Jesus was going to "change the world", am I not supposed to do the same as a Christ follower?

But on a serious note, I think it's probably one of the most difficult things for some people to understand that a pastor is not simply a pastor. He has one duty in the pulpit, and yet another in being merely a Christian who is called to love his neighbor in the world, which includes exercising the right to vote in service to my neighbor.

"Social Reform" comes not from the pulpit that preaches change, but from the pulpit that preaches Christ. The pulpit which preaches Christ creates hearts of faith that love the neighbor as the neighbor ought to be loved, thus creating a society that is truly "reformed" in love for one another within each individual's vocation.

Not that the goal is social reform, but that the result of preaching Christ is a societal/vocational freedom of the heart to love the neighbor - a daily baptismal reformation of the heart, if you will.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I will say this: works flow from faith - but I tend to be nervous hearing "results" -- not because there will not be results (God's Word does not return to Him void), but because we end to judge results by what we want or expect to see... so I might be discouraged when what I want to see doesn't happen (neglecting what is good elsewhere), or even worse, I might simply harangue people and verbally beat them into an outward "result" that I like but have given them no Christ.

As Sasse notes, we *believe* in the Church - it is an article of faith. I will believe that good works happen... especially in my neighbor. I think that may be part of the whole "love believes all things" idea.

Jay Hobson said...

I'm on board with ya. "Results" doesn't equate with my desired outcomes. We believe the Scriptures: where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation. Where there is life there are good works as the Holy Spirit works in us. It seems this is right in line with "love believes all things" - if there is life in my neighbor then I believe that he does good works by the grace of God, even if I can't see them.

Though I'd still argue that without the preaching of Christ, there can be no true love in the world for the neighbor, but only dead works under the law's compulsion. Therefore no true "reform".

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

You are spot on -- the only thing is, how can distinguish between true love and mere dead works under the law's compulsion -- I cannot.

So we preach Christ and leave all thing to Him.