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Go! Abraham, Go!


In every place I have ever served in the Lutheran expression of the “One holy catholic and apostolic Church” I have encountered a singular road block – indifference to the Great Commission. Concern for the Risen Christ’s last words to the Church in Matthew are often disguised or misdirected in terms of either ‘getting new members’ or sending groceries to the local food bank or mailing off a check to somewhere.

When I’ve pushed the issue and pointed out that the Great Commission was meant to be a sending activity more than a gathering activity, I get either blank stares or I flush out what has to be the biggest form of idolatry in this branch of the family tree: Our distinctive Lutheran tradition/heritage/culture. It’s sometimes difficult to express our deepest values until they are violated. Then we suddenly get clarity about what is the most important conviction.

Now, it’s not that I think the answer to being obedient to our Lord and Savior automatically means jettisoning everything from Liturgy to Green Jello Surprise. It’s just that more often than not, when moving toward a more missional posture as church (missional by nature looks far more like sending than gathering-i.e. attracting people to church etc.) the pushback comes in the form of something like, ‘that’s fine so long as we don’t change/lose ‘X’’ Hint. Whatever ‘X’ is very likely is your idol. Which brings me to Abraham.

“1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; …”

Genesis 12.1-4a

To the land that I will show you… Wow! I never go anywhere in my car without knowing the destination. Even if someone else is giving directions, I’ve never just gotten into a car and had someone tell me ‘Just drive that way, and I’ll let you know when we’re there.’ But that is what Abram does. He leaves his way of life, his land, everything. He goes. And he displays the same ‘missionary’ obedience with his son. Isaac, the only way Abraham could have imagined God keeping His promise, God commands him to sacrifice. All this just to be clear that God was the means of the fulfillment of the covenant, not Isaac.

We insist on seeing the way, the destination so that WE can evaluate whether or not the person giving directions knows what they are talking about. So WE can determine if this particular request is reasonable or not. So in that case, our reason becomes the source and norm of faith and life. Or in some cases, our Northern European culturally shaped brand of Lutheranism becomes the filter through which all decisions of faith and life are subjected. What is your ‘x’? And how can we take ‘X’ off the throne, repent and acknowledge that only Christ belongs there? Are we willing to sacrifice all we know (speaking of tradition/culture ect. ‘X’ ) in order to GO?


One Comment leave one →
  1. 26August2011 08:11

    Because it’s hard and foreign and out of our comfort zone “to go where no one has gone before” or so we think. We haven’t been taught, in our Lutheran upbringings, that we should go anywhere with our faith, let alone learn how to talk about it. We are terrified that someone might think we are weird or something akin to that. So, how do we begin to get comfortable with talking about our faith so that when the call comes (and it comes every week in worship) to go, we are ready to go in faith? Practice it perhaps? Thanks for the reminder Mark!
    God’s peace,

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