The Worship Theme tomorrow is titled “How You Live Matters.” This is the continuation of our CORE series where we look at the core elements of our faith. The real theological issue is a classic Lutheran teaching called Law and Gospel.
This is a massive topic and I’ve really been wrestling with how to present it in a relevant manner within a short sermon. Here is a visual map of the main points of the sermon.
Many times we can be tempted to think of it as Law OR Gospel. This creates a dichotomy between those who follow the Law for righteousness, and those who find license through Grace. It can sometimes collapse, in an unhealthy space, into something like this.
Notice what is the same on both sides: SELF. The heart of the Law is to love God and love the neighbor…as we love ourself. When citizens operate out of selfless love for the other, then we have a good society. However, most people get trapped in either self-protection, self-absorption, or self-loathing. All of these lead to an unhealthy and often violent society.
The Gospel declares that YOU ARE LOVED BY GOD, apart from any performance or adherence to the Law. You are inherently worthy of God’s Love because God created and is creating you. God invites you, daily:
- to get past your preoccupation with the false self that trips you up,
- to know that your true self is deeply loved and held by God, and
- to know that you are completely free to love your neighbor, no matter who they are, because that neighbor is also completely loved and held by God.
The Gospel has always been present from the beginning of scripture, but is most clearly articulated through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God demonstrated God’s love to the point of dying for us, showing us the path we must take to experience the resurrection life. This is only possible when we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We need the Law AND the Gospel in order to grow into the good society that God promises we will become.
Read here for more on Law and Gospel.