January 23, 2013
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom. Colossians 3:14-16
If you get and read the Layman, the official publication of Lutheran Hour Ministries, you know most Christian denominations, and that includes The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, have fallen on tough times.
Although there are some places still seeing phenomenal growth, most Christian congregations must confess that membership and attendance are suffering.
Recently, I read an article that listed five reasons why almost 20 percent of Americans say they believe in "nothing in particular," and "organized religion" are dirty words. Those reasons include
1. prominent Christian leaders who said September 11th was God's punishment on America for not condemning homosexuality;
2. sexual sins by Catholic clergy, which has brought about a general disrespect to all clergy;
3. denominational confusion as to whether homosexuality is forbidden or acceptable;
4. the church being judgmental, that is, condemning social and moral issues;
5. the recession of 2007, which closed the doors of many religious charities.
That was one author's list. You might come up with a completely different explanation for the loss of membership in North American Christianity.
As for me, I give thanks I am part of a denomination that strives to condemn that which God condemns, which encourages that which God wants to have advanced, and stays silent where the Lord has done the same.
It is not a position everyone will find acceptable to their spiritual palates. Even so, it is a right position, and if we share that position in a loving way -- in a harmonious and peaceful way -- others will see that God has kept His promise.
And what is His promise?
The Lord has promised that the Word of Christ will be a rich blessing within us, in our teaching, in our witness and ... this is important ... even when we lovingly admonish and correct those who have wandered from the truth.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I give thanks for a pastor, a parish, a church, which preaches Your Word. Now may that Word live within us and be shared by us. And, dear Lord, may our witness, our fellowship, and our admonishing always be done in love. This we ask in the Name of Jesus, whose every act and word were done in love. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries