Thursday, May 26, 2016

Is Faith Worth the Investment? On Neighbors and Relationships

A view of my church neighborhood.

Why am I still a Lutheran Christian?

I occasionally need to ask myself this question, because being a Lutheran Christian involves a lot of noise. I dealt with a similar topic 3 & 1/2 months ago. The Northern European ethos is tiresome. The self-congratulatory theology is tedious. The DNA of unreflective norm maintenance is maddening. 

What keeps me going is that there is something about Luther's teaching that a faithful life is formed by Jesus and neighbor in relationships. Martin Luther frequently used the term "neighbor." For Luther, neighbor is attached to numerous teachings about Jesus. This fascination with neighbor is not Luther's fabrication. The "Good Samaritan," an idea still employed in society today, is not merely about doing a good deed, but an exploration of the challenges of being a good neighbor. See Luke 10: 25-37. Luther wasn't always a great neighbor--but his understanding of the importance of the neighbor is foundational.

I appreciate the opportunity to partner with other Lutherans, but I'm much more interested in finding people and groups who are willing to work with me and the congregation I serve--for the benefit of the community. If that involves Lutherans, great. But not merely for the benefit of Lutherans. My partners and I may not have agreement on everything. What I want to know, can we work together for the benefit of the community? For the benefit of those who are seeking a renewed life? This past week I met with Pentecostals, Evangelicals, a middle school principal, a taekwondo teacher, and even a few Lutherans pondering how we could work together for the benefit of neighbors. It was exciting and scary, but I felt it was where I needed to be.

There is baggage associated with being a Lutheran, and being a Christian. There is also baggage working with me. But let's find a way to work together. As long as I have a space to do that work, let's get to it.

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