Jesus is my Lord
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary is my Lord.
He has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.
All this he did that I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally.
This is most certainly true. (Luther’s Catechism pg. 151)
The above words are words I memorized in school and catechism class as a child. They have been drilled into me since my elementary days. But now that I am older they mean so much more to me than they did when I was a child. When I was a child they were part of my schoolwork. Now they are my heart. I am thankful I was taught to memorize them because the words are still vividly clear in my memory. I can recite them to myself when I feel sad or lost or discouraged and when I need to be reminded exactly who I am. I truly love the Lord and I do not make that confession lightly.
Although I have always known it, in recent months I have been reminded that not everyone I meet feels the same joy that I do through faith in Christ. Scripture’s definition of faith is as follows; Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). Through faith in Jesus I have a sure hope that I will live with him in heaven someday. Although I cannot see him physically I know and believe that his promises never fail. My faith creates in me a desire to love and serve God. That love is reflected in my actions toward others. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen, (1 John: 19, 20).
Several times in recent months I have heard the statement; I believe in God, but I don’t go to church and don’t feel it is necessary. I can believe in God without it. It saddens me to hear these words. How do I respond to someone who feels this way? What do I say to them? If they truly have faith they are missing out on many spiritual blessings by not attending worship and spending time in God’s house. In God’s house during worship and Bible Study he speaks to us through his word. It is refreshing for the soul. I leave God’s house on Sunday feeling joyful and eager to light up the world around me with the love of Jesus.
It is difficult to know how to respond to people with this attitude because as Christians we need to be patient and understanding toward those whose hearts are not in the same place as ours. We don’t want to discourage them further. Yet we know that if they truly believe, or maybe a better way to say it would be if they truly have faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ they would want to hear his word taught. They would have a burning desire to learn more. They would want to be a part of praising and worshiping him in prayer and song, and they would enjoy the fellowship of worshiping with other believers.
I guess it is possible to have faith without feeling a need to attend church on Sunday. Only God can judge hearts. But true faith prompts in me a desire to know more about God and His word. It makes me want to listen to his word. My heart yearns for more knowledge – to be able to better understand the teachings in the Bible. I want to know God’s will for my life. I need to be reminded of the comfort God’s word offers me for eternity and be reassured by his promises. I need the fellowship of other Christians who believe the same as I do. We are encouraged by the writer to the Hebrews; Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).
For these reasons I would tend to believe that the person who makes this type of statement is really saying:
Back off and don’t preach to me. This could be a cover up for feelings of guilt. We are all born with a natural knowledge of God. They know there is a God, but they have no desire to look into it further. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1: 20).
- I don’t have time for God. People are busy with life and don’t want to make time for God. They feel that as long as they admit/believe there is a God they’re good to go.
Whatever their reasons, what should our response to this statement be? Over all I feel it is a cop out. It is just an excuse for not caring enough to make time for God – a matter of being too wrapped up in this earthly life – the here and now. It may also be a matter of pride. In most cases it represents a weak faith at best.
A Church home is important
One thing I have done in response to this is to extend an invitation to come with me to church. The young lady I extended the invite to has not yet taken me up on my offer, but it is still open to her. She has my phone number and she knows where I live.
In another case the young woman I was speaking with revealed that she had been disappointed in the churches she has attended in the past because the actions she had seen in the lives of the pastors and the members didn’t represent love for God and obedience to his commandments. Her heart was open to learning more and it was a great witnessing opportunity. I answered some questions for her and gave her a Bible. She truly wanted to learn more, but had given up on finding a church that teaches the truth.
If witnessing opportunities intimidate you, take comfort in the words of Jesus; do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At the time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10: 19, 20).
Above all we should pray for people who have this attitude. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts and open their eyes and minds to the fact that we all need God. We are unable
to come to faith without his help. Consequently faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Faith comes to us from hearing the word and from reading and studying it. God also grants faith and forgiveness through Baptism.
A living and active faith will result in a love for God which stimulates a desire in us to hear and study his word every chance we get. We will want to attend church. We will want to worship and praise him. His love will prompt us to serve him and our fellow man. Jesus’ instructs each believer to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds [your faith] and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5: 13, 14, 16).
If we never pick up our Bible and never attend church to hear the word we will not come to faith. If we have faith and neglect his word, we risk losing it. Even our Baptism will not help us if we don’t feed and water our faith with the word of God. Faith is like a beautiful green plant. If it is fed and watered it will sprout and grow. When we ignore our faith and don’t feed it and water it with the word it will shrivel up and die.
God’s word is living also. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
So how is your faith doing? Is it living and active, or is it stagnant and stale? Do you have faith at all? But someone will say, You have faith; I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do (James 2: 18). Do you merely believe there is a God? You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder (James 2: 19).
I would urge all people to find a place of worship where God’s word is taught in truth and purity. It may take time and patience, but don’t give up. Find a place to nurture your faith with the food and water of the word. Your life for eternity depends on it. Jesus was punished in your place on the cross so that you could have life. Don’t disregard his sacrifice. In the end you will be truly blessed here in this life and hereafter in the life to come. His gift of grace is there for all people. Don’t leave your gift from God sitting on the desk unopened. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10: 10).
In His holy name, Amen
By Christine (WELS)