ST. LOUIS — “We live on earth only so that we should be a help to other people. Otherwise, it would be best if God would strangle us and let us die as soon as we were baptized. … He lets us live that we may bring people to faith as He has done for us.”
Rev. Joel Lehenbauer, assistant executive director of the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations, quoted Martin Luther in a Bible study he presented yesterday (July 12) at the 62nd Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Lehenbauer called Luther’s statement “rather stunning,” but he quickly added that Luther often used such strong imagery when he wanted his point taken seriously.
Luther’s point, according to Lehenbauer, is that “Christians are aliens in this world, pilgrims and travelers just passing through on our way to a better country — trying to bring as many people with us as we can.”
According to St. Peter, Lehenbauer said, it is personal involvement in God’s mission that gives “significance to our mostly mundane existence on this planet.”
Addressing nearly 1,200 voting delegates and leaders of the Synod, he focused on the need to share the hope that Christians have in Jesus with the people of the world.
He noted that this mission may seem overwhelming in today’s world plagued by global terrorism, moral relativism, crass materialism, religious confusion and same-sex civil unions. But there is, he added, a deep interest in spiritual questions and answers.
“This is not a time for Christians to be discouraged,” he said. “It’s a time for us to be busting at the seams with creative energy and spiritual exuberance at the incredible opportunities.”
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