by Rev. Jerry Kieschnick
April is more than the month in which we Americans file our income-tax returns.
For me, April is a reminder of the importance certain people play, and have played, in my life.
This is because April is the month that my dear wife, my mother, my daughter, and my mother-in-law—all the women close to me except for my granddaughter—celebrate their birthdays.
Think about the people who are important in your life. These are the people who have helped mold you and shape your values. Without them, you would not be who you are today. They are gifts of God, and I encourage you to give thanks to Him for them.
April also marks the beginning of spring.
As this column is prepared, it’s cold and gray outside. When I drove recently from St. Louis to Fort Wayne, which is farther north, the weather was dreary and misty, and the landscape seemed to have no color at all.
In April, though, we can look forward to the grass turning green again, and in St. Louis at least, to dogwood trees, azaleas, and tulips bursting into a colorful display of God’s ongoing providence. The combination of springtime sights, sounds, and smells in God’s creation reminds us of new life and new hope.
This leads me to thoughts of the new opportunities we have in this period of our Synod’s history to bring new life and new hope in Jesus Christ to those around and among us who are without Christ in their lives. I think of our culture and society, which increasingly disregard, or give no thought to, God as He reveals Himself in Holy Scripture.
How do we come to grips with the changing cultural landscape in America?
When our Synod was founded 160 years ago and for generations since then, we have defined ourselves as a confessional, orthodox, Lutheran, Christian church body over against other Christian church bodies—those that do not teach fully in accord with Scripture, and Scripture alone.
I thank God that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod remains a confessional, orthodox, Lutheran, Christian church body. In this time of our history we face the challenge of defining ourselves not only in relation to heterodox Christian church bodies but also over against new challenges to the Christian faith from outside
Christendom—for example, from Islam, Mormonism, even the so-called “New Atheism”—that are indifferent to or deny the Gospel and even are hostile to biblical Christianity.
We are moved by the Gospel to proclaim the Good News about Jesus boldly and intentionally in the face of a culture that today opposes the faith—not for the sake of an institution, but because God loves all people and would have them to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). It is through us, His people, that God brings the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone to a lost world (2 Cor. 5:18–21).
May God grant us hearts that long for the salvation of people in our society so that we do what it takes to reach them with the Good News that God loves them and through the merits of Jesus Christ offers them the free gift of eternal life!