I was asked by Right To Life of Livingston County Michigan to write a “brief” article, and these were the simple parameters given in the email: “We would like your article to address how to reach other pastors to attend our church outreach meetings which are held only three times a year… The article would help our church representatives know how to better approach their pastors about this.” These are pretty clear instructions, but they assume three things. First, they assume that as a preacher, I can be brief. Second, they assume that I will leave the task of reaching out to pastors solely in the representatives’ hands. When it comes to doing the work of saving babies, born or unborn, I want in on it, too. Third, what I have to say is probably best coming straight from me, pastor to pastor, and not necessarily from the Right To Life representatives.
So, this is how I’d like to do it…
RTL reps, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service. Your work is not easy, and yet you are fighting the good fight. Rest assured that your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Having said this, here’s what I am humbly asking you to do. Take this article, make as many copies as are necessary, and mail it out “as-is” to all of the pastors on your list. Let this be a communication from one pastor to another.
Fellow pastors, as you probably already know, the fourth chapter in the book of Hosea is by no means soft. Rather, it is a singular chapter from within the entire trove of God’s Word that introduces a series of chapters, nine in a row, of brutal accusations by God against His people. But as the reader ventures into this particular section of the Holy Scriptures and reads the grisly details of the rampant faithlessness amongst God’s people, within the first few verses it is easily discernible that God wants the reader to know who is to be marked as the culprit.
“For with you is my contention, O priest… My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me” (4:4,6).
I learned a very interesting statistic recently. A large group of Christian pastors was asked if they believed that the Bible deals directly with the major issues of today, issues like abortion. Of the pastors surveyed, 90% of the pastors agreed. Those same pastors were asked if they actually teach their people what God has revealed by His Word, the Bible, with regard to these same issues. The survey exposed that only 10% of the 90% agreed. Did you get that? Only 10% of those pastors are communicating to their people that abortion is ungodly and then showing them where the Bible so clearly iterates this.
“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge…”
The job of a pastor isn’t easy. I know this. In fact, I’d say that this is true simply because we know that while we live and breathe and move within a gathering of people called “Christian”, we are cognizant that there exists in that same group a constant challenge, a great dissonance – that is, a frustrating lack of consistency between belief and action. There are those who claim faith in Christ and yet they have some pretty screwed up views regarding what Christ has given by His Word to His church. We see this translate in so many ways, but one of the most frustrating ways in particular so heinously leads toward mass slaughter. There are Christians in our pews who confess Christ and yet on Election Day, they wake up, read the Bible and pray their morning devotion, shower, get dressed, drive down to the voting precinct and stand in a line, sometimes waiting for over an hour until they are finally ushered into a booth where they choose to elect men and women who support the extermination of infants in the womb.
“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge…”
When it comes to the Christian church, we pastors are to blame. If we will not actively teach, then quite literally, in the case of abortion, people – infants – will be destroyed for a lack of knowledge.
If you are a member of the 10%, then consider this a commendation and keep it up! You can count on me to serve and support you. If you are counted amongst the remaining 90%, then consider this a call to get in the game. Oh, and by the way, technically you are already in it. You are already dealing in the slimy dregs and mire of sin and death in this world. The issue of abortion exists there. And no matter how pristine the appearance of the people in your church may be, you and I both know that they can’t fool us. We know what lies beneath the glossy surface of mankind because we know and have met the sinful nature in ourselves. There are people who may not necessarily tell you that they believe abortion is acceptable, but they are in your church. And there are people sitting right beside them who have had abortions and are suffering terribly from the decision.
The Word of God that we bring meets both right where they are. This is why we preach and teach Christ crucified and risen for our forgiveness! It is by the power of the Holy Spirit through this message that the heart of man is changed and we are made new. This is the fuller exposition of a wonderfully rich Word of God that not only shines the light of the holy Law upon abortion as a horrible offense that absolutely does not align with the Christian faith no matter how hard people may try, but this same Word of God carries the Gospel of forgiveness. It provides the necessary rescue and relief from the guilt and shame for those who have fallen into the pit of sorrow, proclaiming to them the Good News that Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, has reached to us in the darkness of our sin and has saved us. Through faith in Him, our sins are as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and God remembers those sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34).
I know that wherever you may find yourself serving the Lord, there is, most likely, an opportunity being offered to you by your local Right To Life chapter for joining with other Christian pastors to learn. This is a chance for you, as the Lord urges through the prophet Hosea, to pursue knowledge. You won’t necessarily be assembling to discuss theology (although the Christian Gospel sits at the heart of the gathering), but you will be working to do what’s called “cooperating in the externals.” You will be sitting together with others who are seeking to become better versed and equipped in and for stopping the gruesome massacre of the little ones. And I am certain that what you learn will enable you, as a pastor, to go home to your parish and better serve the people God has placed into your care.
Consider this a direct invitation to seek out and attend such a gathering and to do so each time your local Right To Life chapter offers it.
If you have any questions that you’d like to ask me personally, feel free to call or send me an email. Not only do I welcome any and all feedback, but I am your servant and will do whatever I can to help get you connected.
God bless and keep you as you seek to pursue knowledge that you may serve your Lord and His people faithfully.
Rev. Christopher I. Thoma
Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church, Hartland, Michigan
Associate Editor’s Note: With this post we introduce Pr. Chris Thoma to the regular writers at BJS. Pastor Thoma will be writing on a variety of topics but will also make sure that life issues are also covered. Here is a little more about Pr. Thoma:
Rev. Christopher Ian Thoma graduated from Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois in the autumn of 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, completing a double-major in Education and Theology as well as receiving synodical certification as a Director of Christian Education. He served a one-year internship at St. Mark Lutheran Church in West Bloomfield, Michigan under the supervision of Reverend Dr. Jon D. Vieker (currently serving as Senior Assistant to Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, the Bishop of the LCMS) and upon completion received a call from the congregation to remain in service there with Vieker full-time. He served at St. Mark until February of 1998 when he received a call to serve as D.C.E. at Hope Lutheran Church in Levittown, Pennsylvania. That same year, he received a call to serve as D.C.E. at Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hartland, Michigan. He accepted the call and served the congregation in Hartland as Deacon until his ordination into the Office of the Holy Ministry in December of 2007, now serving as her pastor. Since then, he has enjoyed the opportunity for a short study at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
In the autumn of 2003, Pastor Thoma began traveling to Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana as a full-time student while continuing his full-time duties as Deacon at Our Savior. His declared fields of study were Exegetical Theology and Pastoral Ministry and Mission. He served his fieldwork and vicarage requirements in his home congregation under the direct supervision of the late Reverend William E. Thompson.
Pastor Thoma is a published author, poet, and hymn writer. In 2000, he authored the liturgical resource collection for parents and children entitled Kids in the Divine Service publishedby the Commission on Worship of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. In 2008, he published Feeding the Lambs: A Worship Primer for Teachers of Children. His most recent publication, The Homiletical Canvas: Poetry in Service to Preaching, was published in 2012. He authored five essays for the Lutheran Service Book Hymnal Companion (Commission on Worship, 2011), four Bible studies for the Lutheran Service Book Hymn of the Day Bible Study Series (Concordia Publishing House, 2011), and several pieces for Concordia Pulpit Resources (2011). He is presently at work on a children’s fantasy/adventure book entitled The Heroes of Ganchimi, and a children’s book dealing with the theology of Eschatology, entitled Right Now, But Not Yet. He has been a guest presenter at various liturgical conferences for the LCMS, served as a keynote speaker for various “Right To Life” gatherings, been a guest on KFUO radio, and is actively involved in the public square, working alongside various men and women in local, state, and federal government. Additionally, he keeps a blog at www.angelsportion.com.