A Different Spirit

It’s pretty hard not to have noticed in recent years, particularly recent months, the depth of division that exists in our country. From vitriolic attacks in social media to public protests on city streets to flag burning incidents outside congressional offices, people are expressing disagreement with one another, with our country, and with its leaders.

It’s not just happening in the political arena. Differences abound in the ecclesiastical realm as well. That’s not new. Disagreements have existed among God’s people since the days of the disciples and apostles.

Shortly after Jesus instituted what we now know as the Lord’s Supper, a dispute arose among his own disciples as to which of them would be considered the greatest (Luke 22:24). After working together as a team Paul and Barnabas separated from each other because they disagreed on whether to include John Mark on a mission journey (Acts 15:36-40).

Fast forward to the 16th century’s embryonic stages of Lutheranism. Disagreements about faith, forgiveness, penance, papacy, and purgatory were prolific and perpetual. Since that time there has been and still is nearly constant contention about what constitutes pure biblical doctrine, particularly regarding practical application of the Christian faith in daily life and church practice.

So today, like many national religious organizations and our nation itself, Lutheran Christians share with one another many quite similar beliefs but some significantly different perspectives on matters of faith and life. Here are examples from two sources, constituents of which are of one mind about many aspects of faith and life but not of one accord on a number of matters:

  • The Lutheran Clarion: “Building faithfulness to true Confessional Lutheranism and a clear voice of Christian concerns against actions and causes which mitigate against faithfulness to the One True Faith.”  Website: http://lutheranclarion.org/
  • Congregations Matter©: “A movement of churches, laypeople and pastors committed to the restoration of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to its historic roles of strengthening and supporting congregations.”  Website: http://congregationsmatter.org/

Notwithstanding such differences, an overwhelming majority of Lutherans agree on major points of Christian doctrine. Yet freedom from disagreement escapes us. Why is that?

Martin Luther put his finger on a significant causative factor when he said to one of his opponents 500 years ago: “You have a different spirit than we.” I believe he was right. More about that next week. Stay tuned. God bless your day!

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Super Bowl Commercials

Super BowlFifty-two companies purchased advertisements in the 2016 Super Bowl. Each paid CBS five million dollars for 30 seconds of time on the air. That’s $166,666.67 per second!

Why would anyone spend that much to show a half minute message on TV, only one time? How else could any business communicate to an audience of over 100 million people, at once?

The message these advertisers wanted to communicate is who they are, what they do, and why we need what they have to offer. Two advertisements of interest come to mind:

  1. The Doritos Ultrasound. This ad opens with a pregnant woman having an ultrasound. The dad is shown casually munching chips, which annoys the mom. Then we see the not quite yet born baby in mother’s womb reaching toward the chips. When mom grabs the bag and tosses it out of reach, the unborn baby is shown rushing for the exit — early delivery time!

In what some are calling the dumbest denunciation ever, NARAL, formerly the National Abortion Rights Action League, slammed the ad for “humanizing fetuses.” I cannot comprehend how anyone who sees an ultrasound showing a baby in its mother’s womb can doubt that the baby is a live human being. Embryonic life is a precious gift of God!

  1. The Budweiser “Commercial.” I’m not talking about the paid Bud ads but about Peyton Manning’s interview by CBS’s Tracy Wolfson. After the award presentation, he said he was going to kiss his wife and kids and “drink a lot of Budweiser.” He said it again later.

In addition to paying for two commercials, Budweiser got two freebies from Manning. Such a deal! One full minute and two quick comments for a paltry $10 million!

At times like these I wonder what a $5 million thirty second advertisement for the Christian Church would look like. We could begin by communicating who we are, what we do and why those who don’t yet believe in Christ need what we have to offer.

A better idea might be to skip the ad and spend the $5 million living out what Jesus said: “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink, a stranger and you invited me into your home, naked and you clothed me, sick and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me… When you did [these things] to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matt. 25:34-36, 40)

Think about it! Not a bad idea to implement during the Lenten season!