Remember what is really going on here.
Recently Good Shepherd received a visit from John Wolf. John is a retired Air Forces Lieutenant Colonel with a wife and five kids. Instead of taking it easy in retirement, John is preparing to become a missionary in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. He and his family are preparing to go to Kenya, Africa. When he met with us, he described a lot of what the Holy Spirit is doing in different parts of the world. In Africa, millions of people are coming to Jesus. They are anxious to hear God’s Word. They are anxious to be Baptized. They are anxious to gather with other Christians and encourage each other. They are coming to the Church faster than churches can be built. They are coming to the Church faster than the Church can provide pastors and teachers.
What struck me was how the people ignored the stuff that doesn’t count. They don’t care about how pretty the churches looked. They don’t care how pretty the music sounds. They don’t care how hip the pastor is. They don’t walk away when someone says something that they don’t like, or doesn’t say something they want to hear. Instead, they are looking to Jesus. They’re looking for His Grace and Salvation. They’re looking at how to serve their Savior by loving each other and all of the people for whom Jesus died. They have this attitude in spite of, or maybe because of, the fact that they are poor, hungry, and sometimes in danger.
We in New Mexico have a very different life, and we have a very different back ground. Many of the things that fill our days distract us from what is important, what is more important than life itself. When we see the faith of other people, it helps us remember what counts.
We begin with the fact that we are sinful dying people falling to our doom.
If that sentence seems harsh, it proves my point. We have forgotten that we are all in desperate need of supernatural rescue. But we are. And that is what Church is all about. It is not a metaphor to say that we are in the business of raising the dead. Dead is what we are without Jesus. The people in Kenya see this, which is why they walk for miles to hear the Words of Jesus.
As a pastor, there are always people to whom I’m reaching out, “Come back to church. Come back to God’s house. Hear His Word, receive His Sacraments.” The responses which I get are not the words of people who know that they are in immortal danger. The answers are not shouts of desperation. Instead, they’re shrugs, mumbles, embarrassed silences. There are Christians in Africa who have been told that if they go to church, they and their children will be put to death. They go to church anyway. There are people in America who are told that if they go to church they won’t have Sunday mornings free. They don’t go to church.
All of us have to remember what is really happening, what is really important. God is saving a dying world. We are under attack right now by the world, the Devil, and our own human nature. Christ reaches down to us to lift us out of danger. Grab His hand every day. And as He lifts you, reach out to your family, your friends, even your enemies, to lift them too. There is no other hope for a fallen world.