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With the Gift Comes the Call

Hello Gloria Dei,

“There is nothing that you can do that will make God love you any more than he already does.” “There is nothing you can do that will make God love you any less than he already does.”

In other words, God loves you unconditionally. God loves you, period. Salvation is a gift. God gives it you. As Lutheran Christians, we love Paul’s language in Ephesians 2:8-9. “For you have been saved by grace, through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, lest anyone should boast.”

The message of Good Friday and Easter is that we have been purchased with a price. Jesus died on our behalf. And in dying and rising to new life, our sinful selves have been drowned and put to death, only to have a new self arise with Christ at Easter. All of this is pure gift. Amazing Grace, as we often sing.

This is such Good News. And yet, as Lutherans, we are experiencing across the country a decline in the number of churches, and the number of church attenders. Many are asking the question these days: “Is the Christian Church losing its relevance?”

This is and should be a much larger conversation than we have time for today. However, as followers of Jesus and descendants of the Protestant Reformation, we need to be reminded that along with the gift comes a calling on our lives. Martin Luther says so well, “We are freed from sin, death, and the power of the devil. And we are freed for love and service to others.” The Gift is also a Call. Freed From (Gift) and Freed For (Calling). Jesus has purchased us and set us free. What a gift. Therefore, we now belong to him. I no longer belong to me. You no longer belong to you. We belong to Christ. And as members of Christ’s Kingdom, we now have a calling on our lives.

Martin Luther understood this. That’s why, when he rediscovered the Scriptural truth of God’s free gift of salvation in Christ, he lived the rest of his life filled with evangelical fervor. This was news that needed to be shared. This was news that overtook him and filled him with joy, no matter the outer circumstances of his life.

The same is true for you and me. We have received a precious and priceless gift in Christ. Our sins are forgiven. God’s love is given freely. The righteousness of Christ is now ours. And what shall we do with that gift? It is meant to be shared. It is meant to be lived out.

In our text for this weekend in worship (John 21:1-19) Jesus forgives Peter for his three-fold denial and reconciles their relationship. Within that gift of forgiveness, Jesus calls Peter to “Feed My Sheep” (v 17) and to “Follow Me” (v 19).

You belong to Christ. This is a gift and a promise for you. Pure Grace. And that gift quite naturally launches you into the world to share the Good News in word and deed. Who can you invite to worship, or an event, at Gloria Dei? On a wider scale, to whom can you show and share Christ’s love by your words and deeds this week?

I, for one, don’t like it that the Christian Church in America, including the Lutheran Church, is in decline. And I pray that we at Gloria Dei never forget the evangelical fervor of the early believers and of Luther and the reformers to get the Good News out to the world. Yes, with the Gift comes the Call.

See you in worship!

Pastor Tim

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