From the Editor

For the Love of God

Michael L. Sherer

Michael L. Sherer

There’s only one good reason for doing anything

During a visit to Colorado in July, we worshiped with a Lutheran congregation where a banner on the wall of the worship center offered a familiar call: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.” That’s a quote from the last book of the Bible and, unlike those who use this book to prop up “rapture” theories in publications like the “Left Behind” series, the verse assumes clearly that God’s faithful ones will finish out their lives, not be “snatched away” from an evil earth.

Those words were also my confirmation verse, spoken over my bowed head by my pastor father in 1955. They have been a constant reminder to me ever since, that the wonderfully powerful Lutheran doctrine of grace (we are embraced and loved by God without condition) is not a ticket to careless living. It’s an invitation — and a call — to faithfulness.

Here’s the analogy: If I gave you an expensive gift, without condition, and you abused it, I’d be angry with you. If you cherished and treated it with love and care, I’d be thrilled.
Lutherans have the most powerful theology on the planet. Pure, radical grace guarantees us every good and necessary gift for living. Our enemies have falsely accused us of believing that, since we can’t earn God’s favor, we have no compelling reason to serve God — to be faithful.

The Lutheran theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, observed a good deal of faithlessness by Lutherans in 1930s Germany. He called it what it was: “cheap grace.” But that’s a perversion of everything Martin Luther taught us.
Why should, why would, a Lutheran Christian live a faithful life? There’s only one good answer: for the love of God.
Loving our enemies won’t earn us salvation. Then why (besides the fact that Jesus commanded we do it) should we? For the love of God.

Telling the truth and living with integrity won’t earn us points with the Almighty. Then why live that way? For the love of God.

An article on page 7 this month reminds us that poverty concerns ought to be high on our public agenda. We Lutherans should not have waited for our Roman Catholic friends to raise that issue, but we can and should affirm that concern. Why should a Lutheran demand the poor receive fair treatment? For the love of God.

We Lutherans believe we ought to thank, praise, serve and obey our Creator. The reason is obvious. For the love of God, who first loved us.