The Evangelical Lutheran Church — A No Guilt Zone.

March 30th, 2012 Post by

This past week the University of Nebraska announced that a new men’s basketball coach had been hired. Tim Miles, formerly at Colorado State University, would replace the recently fired lovable looser, Doc Sadler.  With the NCAA basketball world deeply focused on the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final 4, the news barely caught the eye of anyone outside the two schools. On Saturday, March 24 the new coach was introduced and the questions soon became pointed.  How can an unproven coach from a mid-major school who posted a losing record over the last five seasons lead Nebraska to the Big Dance?  Miles responded, “I’m Catholic, I live in fear, worry, and doubt.” (Lincoln Journal Star, Page C1, 3/25/12) He went on to explain, “Come join me, it’s a blast, never sleep, bags under your eyes; it’s awesome!” [note 1]

Fear, worry, and doubt; now there is a trifecta for you!  No doubt that Miles was trying to be funny, and for some Roman Catholics the church is the butt of many jokes, but his words are telling on a number of levels.  People who live in fear, worry, and doubt will listen to any potential solution to their woes and undoubtably fall for some.  People who live in fear, worry, and doubt are often easy to manipulate; just ask any political campaign consultant.  Worst of all, people who live in fear, worry, and guilt are joyless, lacking peace and hope and confidence; and that is no joke!

Luther lived the early part of his life in fear, worry, and doubt.  He was afraid of God and worried about his sin.  He lived in constant doubt wondering if he had done enough to appease God’s righteous anger over his many sins.  Scholars debate the precise moment of Luther’s great discovery of the Gospel but many of these debates miss the main point.  Luther did not discover the Gospel; the Gospel found him!  Perfect love drives away all fear and Jesus Christ is perfect love. Our sins are many and our Righteous God demands appeasement, but in the mystery of the Gospel our Gracious Father sent His Only-Begotten Son to take the hit we deserve.  By His wounds we are healed.  It is finished!  No fear; no worry; no doubt; no guilt!

For years I have joked that a true Lutheran church is a “no-guilt zone.”  How easy it is to allow the guilt over past sins to rule our hearts and minds, even to the point where we live our lives mired in fear, worry, and doubt.  The Good News of the Gospel isn’t some “cheap grace” where you dirty yourself all you want with sin and then go to the car wash church to clean up your act.  This is real forgiveness, real life, and real salvation earned by the perfect life, bloody death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus.  The Triune God is for us, not against us, and delivers the deliverance in the font, pulpit, chalice; wherever the Word is proclaimed in truth and purity.  Jesus’ blood and righteousness sets us free, and if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. Free from guilt, fear, worry, and doubt.

There is always a great temptation in the church to revert back to our old ways and our old sins. When the collection plates are a little lite we might hear, “The Gospel is good pastor, but you need to hammer them a little more with the Law to loosen up their checkbooks.”  When church attendance is down we may doubt whether the Word is a powerful enough draw, so we are tempted to add gimmicks and fads to help fill the seats.  When our mission efforts seem less than spectacular compared to the other “successful programs,” we are tempted to play upon people’s worries, doubts, and fears rather than trust that God’s powerful Word will work its promised work.  The Gospel is life giving, life changing, and all sufficient.

Many years ago I was finishing up an Adult Confirmation class and I asked a blanket question, “Does anyone have any questions about any topic we have covered in the last many weeks?”  A young man, who had attended every class but had never said a word, raised his hand.  “Pastor, I’ve been a Catholic my whole life.  I know what drives the Catholic church; money and power. Tell me straight, what is it that drives the Lutheran church.”  I looked him straight in the eye and said, “The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for you!”  He responded, “You’ve been saying that for three months now in class, do you really mean it?”

Many people live their lives in fear, worry, and doubt.  Christ has entrusted to us the precious Gospel which brings life and life to the full.  Lives free from fear, worry, and doubt.  This is the message of the Holy Scriptures.  This is the message of the Lutheran church.  A true Lutheran church is a guilt-free zone.  Do we really mean it?

Blessed Holy Week in Jesus!

 

[note 1]  http://huskerextra.com    (Remarks come at about 23:55 of press conference)

 


Categories: Pastor Clint Poppe Tags: , ,




Rules for comments on this site:


Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.  If you have a topic you think is important to have an article or discussion on, we invite you to submit a request through the "Ask a Pastor" link or submit a guest article.


Provide a valid email address. If you’re unwilling to do this, we are unwilling to let you comment.


Provide at least your first name. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example.  If you have a good reason to use a fake name, please do so but realize that the administrators of the site expect a valid email address and also reserve the right to ask you for your name privately at any time.


If you post as more than one person from the same IP address, we’ll block that address.


Do not engage in ad hominem arguments. We will delete such comments, and will not be obligated to respond to any complaints (public or private ones) about deleting your comments.


Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.


We reserve the right to identify and deal with trollish behavior as we see fit and without apology.  This may include warnings (public or private ones) or banning.

  1. cstercl
    March 30th, 2012 at 17:32 | #1

    I don’t know about you, but as a LCMS Lutheran I confess “I a poor miserable sinner…” at every corporate confession. It always feels pretty guilt ridden when I say it. Luther starts his Catechism teaching of the commandments quite often with the phrase “we are to fear, love …”. If you truly do not feel guilty and confess with a contrite heart, you are no better than the unrepentant thief on the cross who was rebuked by the thief who admitted guilt and entered paradise. Please understand, I am in complete accord with your arguments and dissertation, but it is linkage to your conclusion of being a “guilt free zone” where I fall off your wagon.

  2. March 30th, 2012 at 19:32 | #2

    Thank you Pr. Poppe for reminding us of the truth of the Holy Scriptures, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

  3. Lumpenkönig
    March 30th, 2012 at 22:47 | #3

    The LCMS needs to advertise itself as a safe haven from the relentless law pounding found in the Evangelical churches.

  4. March 30th, 2012 at 23:21 | #4

    If you’re guilty and you know it clap your hands. Oh wait we don’t clap in church. :) Nice article Pastor Poppe!

  5. Nathan Raddatz
    March 31st, 2012 at 01:22 | #5

    Pastor Poppe,

    Please come visit us in the MNS! We need this kind of message.

    Pastor Nathan Raddatz

  6. Rev. Clint K. Poppe
    March 31st, 2012 at 15:53 | #6

    @cstercl #1

    No need to fall off the wagon! We come into God’s house laden with fear, guilt, worry, doubt, etc. A faithful Lutheran church properly distinguishes Law and Gospel and preaches Christ crucified and risen for forgiveness, life and salvation. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. With His rest, ie forgiveness, we are worry free, doubt free, guilt free. If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!

    Sadly some, in the name of Christ, would rather exploit and manipulate our worries and guilt for some desired outcome, rather than trust that the Word will work its promised work. Far too many times I have heard preachers say, “You are forgiven, but…” Conditional forgiveness is not forgiveness!

If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.
*

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.