Pride in my Church

0
368

As I write this, I am still at my daughter’s home just outside Washington, D.C., as I was when I wrote my last article here in The Citizen on July 2nd. Please read that article. It comes so directly from my heart about our nation and our founders.

I failed to mention in that article the reason I’m at my daughter’s home here. She gave birth two weeks ago to a “bouncing baby boy!” We are joyful and thankful to the Lord.

Leo Paul, named for both of his grandfathers’ middle names, makes eight grandchildren for us. “Our quiver is full.” About the quiver thing, Casey Stengel and/or Yogi Berra would say, “You can look it up.” In the Bible, that is. Here’s what you’d look up, Psalm 127:3-5, “Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with children (and I add, grandchildren).”

So now, yes, as my title above would proclaim, I have great pride in my Church, my “Church Body,” The North American Lutheran Church (NALC). As I say this, I realize that I am immediately in need of Confession and Forgiveness because “pride” is a Biblical sin, even one of the “Seven Deadly Sins” according to Roman Catholic theology.

And, indeed, not only “one of” them, but when listed, “pride” is “number one.” According to Wikipedia their order is pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. More “Googling” on each of these would be quite enlightening.

It is important to note, I believe, that what makes these sins “deadly,” by Roman Catholic theology, is that these particular behaviors or feelings “inspire further sin.” Now, as a Lutheran, I am not bound by these distinctions, but I certainly will not argue against such insight.

For instance, when pride is grossly misplaced in feelings and behaviors that are contrary to the Will and Word of God, not only is the initial behavior a sin, but these behaviors “inspire further sin,” that is, reckless ongoing sin which mocks God and rightfully calls for His righteous judgment and punishment.

That may sound harsh, but as Casey and Yogi would say, “You can look it up.” In the Bible, that is. Look up Galatians 6:7. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption.”

This always begs the question, “What should we do about people who have such misplaced and misguided pride?” The answer also can be looked up in the Bible. What does the Bible say? It says we love them.

We love them because Jesus loves them. Romans 5:8 “But God shows His love for us in that while we (all) were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We lovingly show them the danger and consequences of their behavior/sin. We call sin a sin. We lovingly warn them that the first sin is the cause of much more sin. And much more sin is so destructive to their lives now and to their eternal souls.

In addition, we join with them in together confessing our sin because we all have sin of one kind or another, the “Seven Deadly” and many more. All sin is sin. And it must be confessed and forgiven.

At this point we tell them The Good News. What the Bible says is that if we are truly repentant, truly sorry for our sinful feelings and behaviors, we all receive forgiveness of all of our sin because Jesus died on The Cross.

He died on the cross to forgive us our sins for which we are truly sorry. He died on the cross and rose again to free us from the burden of our sin. And, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we can then mold and bend our behavior to God’s Will, not ours. This is what we tell those buried in their sinful and misguided pride.

This is the key: It is the power of God’s Holy Spirit that enables all of us to resist our sinful behavior. Yes, resist. Fight it. Hold fast against it. We are empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to overcome the sinful behavior we have.

We tell the dear folks with sinful pride that they can be empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, if they will simply ask for it, to resist their wayward behavior. And we celebrate that we, with whatever sin shows heavy in our lives, are also empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to resist our sinful behaviors.

Is that great, or what? That’s why it’s called The Good News!

However, there is another kind of pride. Not pride in something against God, but rather pride in something that is God-affirmed, God-pleasing. This is the kind of pride we have in our children when they accomplish great things, when they excel, when they show that they are growing up and behaving the good way we have taught them. This is well-placed pride. This is pride that is God-affirmed, God-pleasing.

And this is the kind of pride I have in my Church, my “Church Body,” the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). Yes, I have God-affirmed and God-pleasing pride in my Church!

All of this comes to my mind because I am privileged to serve as a Pastoral Delegate to the national gathering of our NALC in just a couple of weeks in Oklahoma City. The good folks at St. Martin Lutheran Church in Midtown Atlanta have asked me to serve as their pastoral delegate, and I am honored to do so. I’ll probably have some reflection on this blessed event in an article in The Citizen at some time in the future.

So, why am I so proud of my Church? The “Good Proud?” Let me share just a few of the pillars of the faith we share, inviting others to join us in our faith and mission. These come from our formal statements of faith.

• Concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. We are people who believe and confess our faith in the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We trust and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

• Concerning the Gospel of Salvation. We believe and confess that all human beings are sinners, and that sinners are redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God alone justifies human beings by faith in Christ — a faith that God creates through the message of the Gospel. As ambassadors for Christ, God uses us to speak his Word and build his kingdom.

• Concerning the Authority of Scripture. We believe and confess that the Bible is God’s revealed Word to us, spoken in Law and Gospel. The Bible is the final authority for us in all matters of our faith and life.

• Concerning Marriage and Family. We believe and confess that the marriage of male and female is an institution created and blessed by God. From marriage, God forms families to serve as the building blocks of all human civilization and community. We teach and practice that sexual activity belongs exclusively within the biblical boundaries of a faithful marriage between one man and one woman.

• Concerning our Mission and Ministry of our Local Congregations. We believe and confess that the church is the assembly of believers called and gathered by God around Word and Sacrament, and that the mission and ministry of the church is carried out within the context of individual congregations, which are able to work together locally and globally.

Three NALC churches are in our area. I would recommend all of them to you.

Word of God Lutheran Church on Hwy. 34 in Sharpsburg. Great church. Great young pastor.

St. Martin Lutheran Church on Piedmont Avenue in Atlanta. Beautiful and majestic worship with hymns and liturgy.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville. Offers both modern/contemporary worship and traditional worship each Sunday.

And finally, I would be and am “Good Proud” of any church in any denomination or non-denominational that shares these great pillars of our Christian Faith.

God’s Peace to all!

For more information go to www.thenalc.org or email justin.kollmeyer@gmail.com

[Dr. Justin Kollmeyer, a thirty-seven year resident of Fayette County, is a retired Lutheran pastor. He offers his preaching and teaching pastoral ministry to any group seeking or needing a Christ centered, Biblically based, and traditionally grounded sermon or teaching. Reach him at justin.kollmeyer@gmail.com.]