Word From the Center: Friday, March 16, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

The Church in the Community – a positive first and last line of service!

In my work in the urban centers of the United States, places like New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, I’ve seen with my eyes how the Christian Faith motivates people to serve others the way that Christ serves and loves us. But, I’ve never been able to “quantify” what that means. The book, “The Other Philadelphia Story,” demonstrates how churches throughout Philadelphia have made and continue to make a tremendous impact on the city in which they live. In fact, without the church, the problems of the city would simply overwhelm the community and the government agencies that exist to help those in need.

As Christians who hold a “Two-Kingdom” perspective of how God is at work in the world to bless and to save, we know that for civility and humaneness to others, there are public efforts that need to be undergirded and supported just to keep evil at bay.

It’s not an “eternally saving work” but a significant inroad into or support for our sharing the Gospel. When someone says that God’s people aren’t needed because there’s a government program for that… read this book and realize that when people of faith seek to bless the city in which they live, there is a unique motivation and call to excellence that no secular program can match. And, then, of course, let’s serve and see what happens. Fighting for the liberty to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed matters, because people matter. It’s always been that way, so don’t let anyone caricature the discussion otherwise.

Oh, and another thing. When people of the LCMS seek to publicly engage the city, one of the ways is through parochial education. In the United States, the early calls for “education for all” concerned the need to equip religiously, self-governing, disciplined people for citizenship. The unique constitutional freedoms of the United States couldn’t last without people capable of such an exercise. The whole discussion of parental choice today, is a discussion of honoring the parent’s right to educate their children at the schools of their choosing for the sake of the culture as well as for the sake of their faith. Such opportunities would unleash the church back into the cities (where low tuitions often make parochial education opportunities a virtual impossibility). With the disarray of the family in our culture and in our cities, with urban public schools often rife with violence and poor quality academics, here’s another siren call to say, “Let’s give the Churches a chance” to be a public blessing for the sake of the neighborhood. Even the numbers say that it’s worth a chance!