Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Not Peddlers of Trifles

“For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”  2 Corinthians 2:17

There is no greater, pathetic sight in our day than the sight of a church that grovels.  Not groveling at the feet of her Lord, which is the picture of prayer.  But groveling, begging for a place among the voices of the world that clamor for people’s attention and time.

Too often I hear the Bride of Christ say, “If you need us, please let us know…”  Instead of saying, “You need Christ’s Word and Sacrament.  Without them, you are worse than dead.  Make sure you get fed.”

Too often I hear the church say, “What can we do for you here?” Instead of saying, “We are here to form your hearts, minds, and habits into Christ and enable you to carry crosses.  If you are here for something else, you are in the wrong place.”

I do not find the groveling church worth my time and effort.  Not as a fellow sheep and not as one who has been called to be an under-shepherd to the flock.  You all deserve better than that as disciples, and Christ expects much more than that from us as we make disciples.

For example, a while ago, someone once stated that what we need to do as a church is to go out there and ask people, especially young people, what they want.  The hope, I suppose, is that we would make a diligent search, craft the surveys, find what people want, provide it, and by doing so will draw the masses in.

If someone ever came to me to ask for my opinion on what I wanted from them, I would know that they were the last place I should go to find it.  I would not find a foundation to lay my life with them.  It makes for a pathetic love story.

As someone who is on the ‘young’ side of life, that sounds desperate. To say that tells me we have no idea what we are doing and what we do happen to do is nonessential.  Which, as an aside, is honestly why the government has restricted the church’s activity in her worship and in her witness.  In their minds what we do is trivial or recreational. I will assert that technology helps sell that view.  “You can just do it online!”  Much mischief, heresy, and consumerism has popped up as a result.  Now, to be sure, it was there to begin with, but like a mole poking out of the hole, it can get a good whack on the head from Christians who yet dare.

Those outside Christ do not know what it means to be dead, and I fear some Christians apparently don’t either when we take our cue from them.

Brothers and sisters, the search for relevance is an admission of irrelevancy.  We are not peddlers of trifles.  “Those who are of the truth listen to my voice.”  That is what Christ our Lord says, to which the world responds like Pilate, “what is truth?”

Christians of sincerity are grounded by conviction. “I believe in God the Father…”  

To be commissioned by God is to be led by assertion and not opinions.  “Only the Church carries the charisma of truth.” As St. Ignatius of the early 100’s said it.  And he was so led by conviction that he couldn’t wait for the Roman state to throw him to the lions on account of Christ.  

As a congregation we are about speaking the straight stuff, dishing out God’s goods, and telling people how it is in Christ and his kingdom.  Let’s be unapologetically Lutheran which is nothing less than being Christian and in Christ.  Doesn’t that sound bold?  Wouldn’t that be something you want to stake your life in?  That is the confession to which I asserted to in my ordination vows and will give an account of to Christ himself one day.  That is the conviction that Christ has thrust upon each of us as commissioned by God in our baptism.

We speak in Christ in the sight of God to the world.  That is what the world needs from the Church and that is what Christ has sent His Spirit to empower the Church to do.  No one else can get it done or will get it done.  But by God’s grace, we will strive for the truth, the way, and the life; he who is Christ our Lord.  Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew Belt
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