Saturday of the Week of Lent I
[Jesus said,] “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Genesis 38:13–30; Psalm 51; Matthew 24:3–14
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2CMv4Lp
It is a challenge for the NALC to be truly “Mission Driven.” Lutherans were once fervent for the preaching of the gospel to all nations. The growth of Christianity and Lutheranism in Ethiopia and Tanzania is largely due to the Holy Spirit at work through the Word preached and taught by Lutheran missionaries from Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Lutheran churches planted on every small town and rural corner in North America were also due to the mission spirit of pastors and lay people alike, wanting to share the good news that we are saved by grace through faith in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
This missionary fervor is hard to find in Lutheranism today. Many no longer understand the challenge we face in our day, with many falling away, betraying, hating. Many are led astray by false prophets. The wickedness of the world has indeed caused love for the lost and the least to grow cold. It is time for the fire of love to be rekindled in us! It is time for Lutherans to again lead the way, planting churches, reaching those living in darkness, spreading the gospel to all nations, but also to the nations of North America!
The bishop of the Swedish Mission Province has told us their motto is, “Bringing the Gospel back to Sweden!” Of course, officials of the biblically and theologically liberal Church of Sweden don’t care much for that motto or the premise that the Gospel has been lost in Sweden. And yet, the same could be said for North America. Yes, the Gospel is still here in places, but it is largely unheard and unheeded. Many Christians are fearful of speaking the truth of God’s Word, afraid that it will cause a negative response. Jesus suffered and died for the sake of God’s truth. We are warned that we will be persecuted for Jesus’ sake and the sake of the good news. Still, we are to share this gospel of the kingdom.
While there are those called to preach the Gospel in distant lands, most of us are called to do what we can in our own corner of the world. We refer to this as life-to-life discipleship. It is one person caring enough for another to share the good news of Jesus, walking alongside that person in good times and bad, being Christ’s presence. This is how we can be mission driven in our own lives. And anyone can do it! It doesn’t require special training, education or skills, just a relationship with Jesus that you share with another!
Prayer: Lord God, renew your church today, as we seek to share the good news. Amen.
Lenten Response: Tell someone—anyone—that God loves them!
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.