Opportunities for Growth
09.03.23 | Articles, The Shepherd's Voice | by Don Treglown
September is, by tradition in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Christian Education Month. It is a time when the church celebrates the gifts of Christian education and looks forward to opportunities of growth for the upcoming year.
I think of our Adult Bible Studies, Sunday School Program, Lambs of Faith, Confirmation, and other opportunities as flowing out of Romans 1:6 where Paul writes, “And you are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” “That’s a nice verse” might be said but what does it really mean to belong to Jesus Christ, especially in an age and culture which promotes finding belonging (identity) in anything other than in Jesus Christ.
Based on the Scriptures and shown in Lutheran teaching, belonging to Jesus Christ can mean four simple but radical things to a Christian in 2023.
- We are called to be pilgrims (sojourners) on a life-long journey of faith in Jesus Christ. Learning God’s way and loving Christ in our hearts is a life long thing. No one ever graduates from it. No one ever arrives. Remember – We are not of this world, we are only living in it for awhile. Paul writes in Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”
- We are called to be a holy people – set apart from the world.
1 Peter 1:16 says, “Just as He who called you is Holy, so be holy in all you do.” I love knowing that the Sacrament of Baptism marks the beginning of our faith journeys. The moment God’s Word was spoken and the water placed on us, God said, “You are mine and you are beginning the greatest adventure of your life. I promise to be with you.”
- We are called to be a servant.
Listen to Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23, “Anyone who shall follow Me, he must first deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Sometimes we fulfill the call to be a servant and other days, we fail…big time. But praise be to God who forgives us and sends His Spirit to rest upon us and use us as His servants despite our frail attempts.
- We are called to a life of Christian community.
Listen to what God says about this in 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love, be compassionate and humble, do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing because to this you were called.” When someone hurts us – the world says, “Get Even!, Fight!, Sue! Hate!” But Jesus says, “Love them. Bless them , Forgive them.”
Throughout this month of celebrating Christian education, I pray that our understanding of being “among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” may deepen. And that we all discover the richness of abiding in the heart of God rather than in the heart of the world.
Called to be His Child and Your Servant,
Pastor Don Treglown