“Look at how the church looks right now!” “She is in disarray and has flaws and blemishes!” “There are parishes which practice their confessed doctrine in an unfaithful manner!”
All of us have heard these statements, and all of us have made these statements. What do we do about these statements is the bigger question. Personally, we must commend our sister parishes and our church body to our heavenly Father, daily. We must dialogue and discuss these issues with our fellow Lutherans and our fellow Christians for the sake of the Gospel and to hallow God’s name.
In the midst of all of this praying and talking, it is very easy to get discouraged by the devil’s harassment, our flesh with its cyncism and negativism, and this world with its despisal of the Truth that sets men free. Therefore, I share with you a great quote from a Lutheran pastor in the 1600’s who tackled this same struggle.
“In this article (Article VII of the Augsburg Confession) the church, so far as pure doctrine and pure worship are concerned, is described not as it always is, but as it always should be, so also in what condition it was when it flourished and was in its greatest glory as, for example, in the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and those of His holy and beloved apostles, and as by God’s grace, it is found today in the evangelical [Lutheran] churches. But, though the church here on earth is not always found in the same condition and the same fortunate state of well-being, so that it does not always flourish, just as the moon at times waxes and then again wanes, so at one time the Gospel is proclaimed more purely than at another. Such changes are noticed even at the time of the apostles in the very congregations that they themselves had founded. Nevertheless, just as at the time of a lunar eclipse the sky does not disappear, so God preserves His church in the midst of darkness, [that is,] when the divine Word and the sacraments are corrupted and obscured by false teachers ….(Sermons preached by J. C. Göbel, pastor at Augsburg, in 1654 on the Augsburg Confession, fol. 524, 532).
Bottom line–hang in there and stay engaged. Don’t drop out and don’t let go of the hope that lies within us in His promises, especially to His beloved bride, the Church. Remember, the gates of hell will not prevail against this great confession of faith, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”