Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Insecurity is the Enemy of Theology

Assertion:  Insecurity is the Enemy of Theology.

So, what do I mean by saying this.  Consider the parish pastor, going out to preach, to teach, to do theology.  And let us say that in the moment, he is driven by insecurity.  What happens?  That fear, that insecurity colors and shapes the way anything theological is done.  Let's ponder some hypothetical examples.

If he is insecure in his support, or finances, or worried that the congregation is going to cut his salary, kick him out if he doesn't toe their own lines - the temptation is going to be to give in and wuss out (which I'll assume here is bad theology), or he might just, in an effort to try to bolster his flagging security, dig in his heels even more, and by George I'll show them and preach a rip roaring sermon against their sacred cow... which can lead to a sermon on how Lazarus and the Rich Man shows us and demonstrates that the bad issue of the day (insert here: lay deacons, syncretism, not wanting their pastor's bad chanting to drive the service, etc) is utterly wrong.  In either case, the theology is bad.  It's not driven by what the Scriptures say, but by the baggage our fears leads us to bring to the Scriptures.

Or let's say that there is a pastor who is insecure in terms of whether or not a position is socially popular.  On the one hand, they could cave to social pressure.  On the other, they could overreact against that social pressure... and then everything gets shaded to stand against that social pressure.  That's how you get sermons on the Lost Sheep that either say, "This means we must welcome the (insert socially dis-privileged group de jour) and support them in their struggle" or "This means that (insert same socially dis-privileged group de jour) is ruining our country and leading the tender sheep of our youth astray."  Both sort of miss the point... you know, that there is joy over repentance and you yourself ought be repenting rather than bragging about your righteousness.

You see, when we are insecure, we feel the need to act.  Our old sinful flesh's solution is to try to do something to make ourselves comfortable.  We will fall into fight or flight.  We'll either fight the source of our insecurity tooth and nail (and often foolishly), or we'll fly away from any semblance of something that might cause the discomfort, and go through ridiculous hoops to make those causing discomfort never want to discomfort us again!

Neither of those makes for good theology.

Especially Lutheran Theology.  Lutheran theology is grounded in security.

Consider.  The Law shows me the sin.  The Law is good and wise.  I am a sinner.  If I say I have no sin, I deceive myself and the truth is not in me.  The Gospel is that Christ has died for me.  He has risen for me.  On account of Him, I have forgiveness, life, and salvation.  This is most certainly true.

See there.  Nothing insecure there.  Just straight up statement of truth.

Because that's what our theology is.  While it may speak to the controversy of the day, it isn't driven by it.  Nor does it become obsessed with it.  Rather, good theology desires to remain secure - that is centered on Christ Jesus and His Word.

Everything else comes and goes.  The great scandal of one day, which caused such insecurity and consternation, is a back burner issue a generation later and becomes a matter to explain in the footnotes in the history books a generation there after.  And yet, Christ and His Word remain.  A safe, secure point in the midst of the intellectual and social storms of the world.

Drop your axes, preachers!  They need not be sharpened.  You are the speakers of peace; Christ has returned the swords you draw in your insecurity unto their sheathes.  You are plowers now, attentive to the Word of God.

"Preach you the Word and plant it home/ to people who like it or like it not./ The Word that shall endure and stand/ when flow'rs and men shall be forgot." 

Dare I say that will endure when your insecurity of the day is forgot.

You are in Christ.  You are secure, no matter what the world tells you.

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I'm serious about this.  I am.  Here's a little observation from Saturday Night Bible Study this past week on 1 John 3.  Consider the following:

"16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?"

Now, here's the options, and there are two laid out here.  On the one hand, we love like Christ, and in so doing we die.  We lay down our lives for our neighbor.  On the other hand, we hate, we "close our heart."

Actually, the Greek is we close our "guts" - our splagchna.  It's the same word that gets used for compassion - when Jesus has compassion upon the crowd it's the verb for "guts" -- He gutted, His guts were wrenched.  You can, if you want, run things via hate - that is, on the basis of fear and insecurity and whom you need to fight against.  The only thing is... well, that closes your guts.  Think on that.

Closes your guts.  Obstructs your bowels.

You know what that does?  It kills you.  Really, really painfully.  And you are full of it, and you die.

See, here's the reality.  You're going to die.  Either way, loving your neighbor or not - you are going to die.  You can die in Christ, secure in His love and showing forth that love, proclaiming the Word with joy... or you can die without security, insecurely fighting and scrambling and trying your best to make the danger go away, thinking that if you just hate the right people you can give yourself a bit of a longer or better life.  And you still die.  Painfully.  Uncomfortably.  And full of it.

's the truth.  Embrace it.  You're going to die.

Oh well.  Christ died.  He rose.  For You.  And thus though you die, yet you will rise and live forever, and no one, no insecurity can take this joy from you.

This is most certainly true.

See.  Isn't that better?  Isn't that security freeing (for freedom you have been set free!)?  Insecurity is the enemy of theology.  That's okay - Christ is insecurity's enemy.  Look to Him; Christ and His mercy triumphs over insecurity.  Even yours.

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