Monday, September 19, 2016

What Drives the Church?

When my dad was first called to Trinity, Woodward (Oklahoma) a bit over 10 years ago, I had an easy time finding his place.  Come in to town from the main highway to the west, and when you got to the big former grocery store turned into random Evangelical Church, turn left. 

I can't remember the name of the grocery store church, but it had a big sign: "Changing a Culture for Christ."  My dad and I would chuckle at that - as though the point of the Church is to change a culture, or for that matter even to be focused on individual moral improvement!  He and I were pastors; we were preachers of the Gospel - not life coaches or counselors - if we did that, it was an alien work, a side thing, not the primary.  And even then, not as the world did these things.  We did not try to improve; rather God by His Word killed and made alive - killed with the law and enlivened with the Gospel.  Preachers were sent by God to proclaim the Word that people might obtain faith - where there is faith, works will follow.  Where folks abide in Christ, fruit will come - for indeed, apart from Him we can do nothing.  Sure, there may be some civil righteousness that comes from reason - but before God, that matters not.  While we were to praise civil righteousness, we were preachers - we were to be about the Word and Sacraments so as to deal with the eternal things.

Sin and Grace.  Law and Gospel.  Acknowledging that both would always be needed for in this life we would never obtain perfection.  Indeed, in this life all our works would be tainted with sin, yet approved by God solely on account of Christ.

Of course, that was back in the day.  That was before the rise of all the terrible social issues of the day, I am told.  Surely now the Church must be first and foremost a bulwark for morality and decency, now that such terrors have arisen!  That was before we had terrible liberal presidents and social agendas and the like!


Here's the thing.  I started college in 1995, Seminary in 2000.  We had all of this back then.  Tolerance was the talk on campus back in the 1990s - all the same sorts of PC stuff was going on there.  And when I was in the Sem, gay marriage was legalized in various states.  Nothing new under the sun.

And yet - even after and through that - there is my dad and I, over and against all that junk, sitting in the 2000s, determined to be centered on Christ Crucified for sinners, and letting the chips fall where the Holy Spirit wills. 

So I will ask.  What drives the church?  What drives your theology?  What gets you fired up?  Is it the thought that folks do not know the Gospel of Christ - that they are trapped in the chains of legalism and self-justification; or is it fixing society?  Better ethics and morality?  The primacy of Christianity in our Country?

Because, those are the old silly saws of American Protestantism - the balliwick of Schmucker and Welch and their ilk. 

Does the Gospel still drive the Church?  Does it still drive you?  Or do you need something naughty and salacious to get to fired up?

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ Crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jew and Greek, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

What drives the church?

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