From the Editor

One Sign of Authentic Faith

Like at the University of Minnesota, there is a concern for quality athletic coaching at Ohio State University. The consensus is that the new OSU head football coach, Jim Tressel, has a lot of integrity. One journalist wrote an article about the school’s gridiron chief which bore the headline “Saint James.”

Describing Tressel, the writer quoted a fan: “[He is] a solid Christian and that says a lot!” A reader responded with this comment: “Alfie Kohn of Psychology Today [magazine] summarized the results of many years of research on whether religious belief is a good indication of moral character. He wrote, ‘What … can we surmise about the likelihood of someone’s being caring and generous, loving and helpful, just from knowing that he or she is a believer? Virtually nothing, say psychologists, sociologists and others who have studied that question for decades.’ Kohn also mentioned a 1975 study of college students in which the temptation to cheat on an exam was resisted by a greater percentage of atheist students than religious students.”

Fair enough. There is no guarantee that a churched believer will automatically behave with greater integrity, reliability, or compassion. Last month’s page 1 quote from Martin Luther reminded us that a person who professes faith may, in fact, not be a believer at all. (Luther asks, “What if they lie and deceive? You cannot see their hearts.”)
Still, to be Christian should mean something specific and extraordinary. The most radical demand the Gospel of Jesus lays upon his followers is that they love their enemies. That’s as good a measure as we are likely to get for determining whether people who call themselves Christian really are.

This month and next Metro Lutheran invites young people who are enrolling next Fall in grades 4-12 to write an essay. The theme is, “One good way to love an enemy.” (Details appear in the print edition on page 6.) If one of your children decides to participate in this competition, help them out. Talk with them about what this commandment means to you. Have you ever loved an enemy? If not, why not? Jesus says we should, you know.