Dear friends in Christ,
“Something has to happen.”
Since I began assisting at Concordia seven months ago, this has been a phrase I have heard from a number of Concordia. It delights me whenever I hear it.
In recent decades, the Christian church in America has seen steady and even at times rapid decline. The number of churches closing and near closing is staggering. Add to the equation the stressors on organizations during the pandemic and we have a recipe that can result in fear and uncertainty.
Something has to happen. In the early church there was much suffering and persecution of the first churches as the good news of Jesus began to spread. Peter wrote a letter to the Lord’s people encouraging them in the Lord as they faced certain suffering for the sake of the Gospel.
In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter after speaking of the foundation of the gospel that had been proclaimed to the recipients writes, Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
He was telling them in a way, to be ready because something has to happen. Peter gave them three ways to be ready: 1) Prepare your minds for action. 2) Be sober minded. 3) Set your hope fully on the grace of God.
How can we follow this guide? 1) Prepare your minds for action. Means to learn and know the things we are given to know. We can take an inventory of what is good and what the opportunities are that exist around us. Our minds are invaluable tools God has gifted us with. We can sort through what we have taken in and we can draw conclusions based on what we know. The best source of knowledge for the things of the church is not the past or the analysis of practices for the future, but rather the Word of God, or the “things above” as Paul says in Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
2) Be sober minded. When we stop to consider where we have been and what is going on around us, we can react in many ways. A non-sober reaction may be to panic, or to get angry, or to give up. Peter’s words telling the people to be sober minded reminds us that there are more factors at play in the work of God’s church than external indicators. We must remember whose church this is and what he promises to do for it. As 1 Thessalonians 5:24 tells us, “He who calls us is faithful, He will surely do it.”
Finally, 3) Set your hope fully on the grace of God. One of the greatest temptations when wanting something to happen is to forget the necessary basics that have been taking place all along. For nearly 90 years, since 1932, when Concordia began, the Lord has been showing up and making things happen in this congregation. Baptisms, the forgiveness of sins, the meal of Christ’s body and blood. These things have happened and will continue to happen. Not only are these the foundational things that make a church, this is the grace that gives us full hope, not only for the future, but for the days we are in now as we seek to do the Lord’s will in our community.
Hudson Taylor a missionary to China in the 1800’s once said, “God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply.” What a great reminder for us in the midst of wearing chances and changes of this world that God is in control and He is giving us work to do.
Thank you for praying with me that the things that continue to happen and that will happen will be God’s doing His way and with His supply.
May God continue to guide us.