Reflections of Our Savior
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. Colossians 1:28 (NIV84)
Dear members and friends of Our Savior:
“Is it really worth it?” Sounds like something someone might say when they are on one of those really bad vacations. You know, one of those “vacations” that is supposed be fun and relieve stress, but the kind where your first flight is cancelled, then on the next flight your luggage is lost. And you get to your “really clean hotel room” only to find bugs in the bathroom and a rotten sub sandwich in the “convenient” little fridge. Then when you get to your destination activity, you wait in line for hours, in the heat, and everything is really expensive, and you are really stressed out and wonder: “Is it all really worth it???!!!”
O.K., so we are not on vacation. You’re getting this at church. And getting here was really easy for you today, right, in comparison? Sure. But, people often wonder the same thing about church: “Is it really worth it?” Week after week--- pretty much the same thing--- heard it before--- and so on. People wonder if their commitment to their church is really worth it: the time, the offerings, the struggles of a small congregation, and for some, actually getting here isn’t always easy. We know there are obstacles.
My answer of course is, “Yes, it is really worth it.” We are reminded of the value and benefit of being part of a church like ours when we remember why we are here. St. Paul tells us in the verse above. We are here to be admonished and taught. We are here for a change of heart and mind and we are here for knowledge of God’s saving grace. We are here to have our sins pointed out. Not to rub our noses in our faults and failures, but to be forgiven. We are here to learn about ourselves, even our sin-stained human natures. And that helps us to learn about our God---how he desires to show us his love---how he sent his Son to die on a cross for us---how he leads us by his Holy Spirit, through Word and Sacrament---how he works out everything in our lives according to his gracious will---how he wants us in heaven with our Savior, for eternity. That’s why church is worth it.
Oh, I know, people say there must for more for us to do to make ourselves attractive to others. Loosen up that teaching a bit; maybe that Bible really isn’t as relevant in our “modern world.” Maybe some sports camps for the kids, spaghetti dinners for the hungry, special interest programs for the community, maybe some self-improvement programs for us, and on and on. Maybe that’s what we should do to make someone’s time here “worth it.” By the way, there isn’t anything wrong with those things, that is, with program ministry. There is nothing in God’s Word or the Lutheran Confessions that say that those things are a sin. It’s just that there is nothing in the Word of God that says we should or must do those things.
On the other hand, God’s Word does make it clear what our work and mission is. Read that verse above again. That is what God wants us to do. The admonishing and teaching of His Word is worth it. Our work and commitment here at Our Savior Lutheran Church is worth it because we are doing the very thing God commands of us, to present everyone perfect in Christ. That can only happen when we admonish sin and teach the love of God in Christ. Jesus came to shed his blood and give his life to pay for our sins, to rescue us from our sin-stained human natures, and to make us perfect in him, so we can look forward to eternal life in heaven. It’s worth it!
I know, church is not a vacation, or even a walk in the park. Certainly our commitment to our church entails some challenges. Jesus didn’t say, “Pick up your bed of roses and follow me.” He said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
So, let’s think about that vacation I described above. When you get home, what do you remember? The lost luggage? The long lines? The expensive food? No. When you wonder if it was worth it, you say “Yup, it was worth it. We are glad we went. And we’re glad we are home again.”
Church is like that. In spite of the struggles, or doubts about whether it was worth is, or if I got anything out of it, I never heard anyone walking out of church on a Sunday morning saying, “That was a waste of my time.” No, the talk always is, “That was worth it. I'm glad we went to church today.”