How to Be an Un-Miserable Lutheran

The best way we can convince our neighbors that what we Lutherans have is better is to show them that what we Lutherans have has not made us bitter.

Can you believe that only 19% of women say that the term ‘feminist’ describes them very well?” This is a question that feminists always ask whenever they see that, once again, they have failed to recruit more women to the cause. Despite their best efforts, they could not succeed at convincing the next generation of women to embrace the feminist cause, rendering them furious, fuming, and flummoxed. It’s hilarious because the answer is obvious.

Why do so few women want to join the feminist cause? Because feminism seems to be the thing that turns feminists into embittered, lonely perpetual victims, man-hating, motherhood-despising killjoys, fun-ruining grinches who can’t enjoy so much as a Sunday picnic without complaining about the patriarchy lurking within the potato salad. And, surprise, surprise, people don’t want to convert to a worldview that will make them miserable.

This is a lesson that Confessional Lutherans would do well to learn.

We Lutherans know the Gospel and we love the Gospel. We know that Christ instituted His Church to give us the salvation and peace that comes from the Gospel. We know the glory of the Sacraments, the comfort that comes when a pastor rightly divides Law and Gospel. We know the beauty of the liturgy and our greatest hymns, which fix our eyes on Jesus and His saving blood. We know the joy of true doctrine.

And we also know what happens when false doctrine invades the Church. We know that people are robbed of divine comfort when pastors never actually preach the forgiveness of sins from the pulpit. We know how much damage it does to people’s souls when they’re taught to see the salvation-filled Sacraments as nothing but symbolic gestures meant to impress Jesus with our obedience. We know how tragic it is when congregations starve people of our greatest liturgies and hymns and replace them with vain repetition and empty emoting. We know the sacramental anemia and the spiritual emptiness that so many Christians are experiencing. And we know how much better off they’d be if they’d just become Lutherans, already.

Likewise, when we look at the secular culture, we see the rise of transgenderism, the celebration of sexual immorality, and the booming racial grievance industry that teaches people to see their neighbors as their enemies.. In all of this, we see people under the power of the devil, deceived into believing that celebrating perversity and fomenting hatred is the way to acquire righteousness and earn their distorted sense of salvation. We see the carrot dangled before the horse and how bitter they’ve become pursuing a peace that they can never and will never attain from the devil’s hands. We know how much happier and healthier they’d be if they knew Christ.

And all of this breaks our hearts and frustrates us. We rightly condemn false teachers on social media. We rightly rail against the liturgical disunity and the poor preaching in our church body. We rightly lament the wickedness of our modern culture. But we often do so at the expense of expressing joy. We mutter fifty bitter words for every joyful word we sing. We let concern metastasize into despair. We even give our neighbors reason to think that our Lutheranism is the cause of our unhappiness. Then we find ourselves in the same position as the feminists: confused as to why people don’t want to embrace the worldview that seems to have made us so miserable.

There’s a better way. There’s a way for us to confess to our neighbors the beauty of the Lutheran confession. And, thanks be to God, this better way doesn’t require us to sacrifice an ounce of our zeal for true doctrine. All it requires is for us to wake up each day and remember who we are.

We are not children of misery. We are children of the most high God, the One who created water that we may be baptized with it and added to His family, the One who created wheat and grapes that, through them, we may consume the flesh and blood of Christ, the One who created the very air we breathe in order for that air to deliver into our ears the sound waves of Christ’s saving Gospel proclamation. This world was created to give you pure doctrine. And when Christ ripped this world out of the devil’s hands at Calvary, He did so to restore the world to this original purpose. Because of Christ, you don’t live in a joyless world. So be filled with joy.

Yes, it’s heartbreaking that so many Lutheran churches have abandoned the historic liturgy and hymnody of the Church. But you still have that liturgy and hymnody. So rejoice in it. Sing it loudly on Sunday morning. Sing it with such gusto that your fellow congregation members can’t help but notice its beauty and cherish it evermore. For every time you rail against the shallowness of modern Christian music, post ten hymns on your social media account. Fill the digital realm with the greatest sacred poetry ever written. Let the majesty of those words speak for itself and trust that God, who wants people to sing those words even more than you desire it, will accomplish His good and gracious will.

Yes, it is tragic that so many people are deprived of the pure Gospel by the churches they attend. And yes, it is good to condemn the false teachings that have deceived them. But when you do, speak in such a way that your joy is undeniable. Speak with a tongue that rejoices at what God has done for you in Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. Talk about how viewing these things as God’s gifts to you and not your sacrifices to Him gives you the right to live a life without doubt. You never have to worry that your faith is not real, that you might not actually be a believer, that Christ’s promises might not apply to you, because you are baptized and because you feast on Christ’s righteous body and blood every week.

Yes, it is lamentable that Satan has deceived so many into believing that righteousness can only be found by diving into a sea of perversion and hatred. But it’s important to remember that the LGBTQ+ allies and the soldiers of wokeness are already miserable. So if we want them to reach out and take the life-preservers we toss them, we would do well to ensure that those life-preservers are shining with the joy of Christ that we possess. Speak about how the Gospel doesn’t ask you to crawl through filth in order to find happiness, but that it freely delivers the salvation and the peace you could never find otherwise. Tell the truth to those who are tearing their lives apart trying to find peace by hating their neighbors—that Jesus is risen, that Jesus has given you every ounce of God’s love, and that, because of Christ, you have no enemies except the devil who has already been defeated. Because of Christ, there’s not a person on earth you need to hate. 

Tell your neighbors that you belong to the same Jesus who has made brothers out of slaves and slavemasters, murderers and their victims. Through Christ, you have been set free. You are no longer a victim and no longer oppressed, which means that you don’t have to despise anyone who has oppressed you in the past or who is currently doing so. You can love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and trust that Christ will make all things right on the last day.

The best way we can convince our neighbors that what we Lutherans have is better is to show them that what we Lutherans have has not made us bitter. So, whenever you confess, whenever you catechize, whenever you shine the light of Christ into a world that loves the darkness, do so with joy. After all, bitterness is the curse of the unbeliever. Joy is the inextinguishable treasure of Christians. Use it.

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Hans Fiene

Rev. Hans Fiene is Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Crestwood, MO and the creator of Lutheran Satire.

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Christian Culture is the magazine of Luther Classical College. Visit lutherclassical.org for more information about the college.