by Rev. Ken Lampe
It’s popular today to talk about being spiritual but not religious. Some people want to be considered spiritual, but they are not sure they want to take a stand for Jesus.
Other people tend to think about religion in terms of family or tradition. Children or spouses act as though someone else can maintain a relationship with God for them–that having godly parents or grandparents will somehow qualify them for life in heaven. But that simply does not work. As Billy Sunday once said, “A man must be more than an in-law of the Lord.”
Jesus Himself acknowledged that being a follower is a personal matter that will not always be easy. In fact, it may at times cause divisions even in families. He says, “Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three” (Luke 12:51–52).
In saying these words, Jesus was just being honest. No one will doubt that, in times past, Christians have faced opposition because of their faith. Probably all of the apostles with the exception of John died violently because of their faithfulness to Christ. Moreover, the list of martyrs has lengthened in every century.
So, what do Jesus’ words say to each of us? Many of us grew up when being a Christian was popular and respected. What do Jesus’ words mean for us as 21st-century followers of Christ living in post-Christian America? Hopefully, His words will cause each of us to pause and take stock of our faith. If our faith is never challenged, is it possible that we have made our faith so much like our world that it simply offends no one? Have we come to the point that the world sets the standards for our faith, rather than us setting standards for our world by living out our faith? Jesus clearly indicates that there are times when the truth of His Word will create division and controversy.
Does that mean we have to get involved in difficult issues? Does God want us to take stands? There is a simple answer to those questions: Jesus did.
How peaceful His life could have been! He could have remained in the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth. He could have preached and healed and won great popularity among the people. But Jesus did what He had to do, even if the consequences were a cross.
And there we find our challenge and our comfort. Following Christ and taking a stand for Him may at times cause divisions and troubles. It certainly will not be considered politically correct by many in our society. But, at the same time, we know that when we do follow Christ and stand up for Him and for the truths of His Word, there is no cause for fear even if others choose to ridicule or attack us. We are standing with the very One who gave His life on the cross so that we can have eternal life.
Once when Martin Luther was at the height of his struggles with the Roman Church, someone asked him what he would do if the princes and their supporters deserted him. “Where will you be then, Martin?” he was asked.
The bold reformer replied, “I will be where I have always been, in the hands of God.”
That is still true today when we take our stand for Jesus. We are always in the hands of God, and we can count on Him. I pray that God will give each of us the courage to take our stand with Jesus in our lives each day.
About the Author: Rev. Ken Lampe is president of the LCMS Mid-South District. This column appeared originally in the August 2010 issue of the “Mid-South Lutheran.”