If you haven’t noticed the numerous political ads, debates, and news coverage on TV, then let me tell you that the campaign for President of the United States is in full swing. One common thread on the campaign trail is mudslinging. Investigative reporters, party line supporters, and candidates themselves usually try to find dirt on their opponents. If a candidate commits a crime, contradicts an earlier position in a speech, or says something politically incorrect, it will be slung back in their face, thus making them look foolish in the court of public opinion.
Yes, much mud is slung during the race for president, but the “campaign” for Christianity has also had lots of mud slung its way over the years. True Christianity, and by true, I mean rooted in Scripture alone, has always upheld the doctrine of sin and Christ crucified for sinners. These two central teachings of Scripture have caused many insults to be thrown towards true Christianity.
First, Scripture teaches that since the fall in garden, as we heard Ash Wednesday, man has inherited original sin and has been sinning ever since. Man is sinful even in the womb, and from this original sin he commits actual sins until the day he dies. The Scriptural teaching that we are by nature completely dead in our trespasses, enemies of God, and slaves to sin goes against the worldly idea that people are basically good. The idea that cute little babies are sinful and in need of a Savior isn’t popular. Therefore, Christianity has been criticized and received mud for being too negative by focusing on sin and the Law of God that shows us our sin. Some churches, in an attempt to be more popular in the campaign of political correctness, have moved away from the right doctrine of Scripture. These churches have tried to make the message of sin more moderate or left the message of Scripture out altogether. Since telling people that they are sinners is offensive, many churches have dropped the confession of sins from the service or rewritten it to be more upbeat and less poor and miserable. Others have also changed the somber hymns that focus on sin and redemption for a more upbeat, happy melody that focuses on something more “relevant.”
Second, Christianity has also been ridiculed by the world for focusing on Christ and Him crucified for the sin of the world. The message of sin and forgiveness for the sake of Christ is foolishness and a stumbling block to the world. Since the world finds the cross of Christ to be silly, just like they do sin, some churches have been tempted to go with what the world wants to hear instead of what the world needs to hear. Just like the preaching of sin, the crucifixion has taken a backseat to something more palatable. This is not only heard in the content of their worship services, but is seen in their rejection of displaying crucifixes and crosses for symbols that are easier on the world’s eyes, like Jesus smiling or the children of the world holding hands. Is there anything wrong with displaying images of Jesus smiling or children holding hands? Of course not. But it is the body of the Godman hanging bloody on the cross that has won forgiveness of our sins.
The doctrine of sin and its forgiveness is central in true Christianity. This is demonstrated well in the Scriptural and historic worship of the Church that has been handed down to us. The Divine Service begins in God’s name, the same name that was placed on us in Baptism. Notice also during the invocation that the sign of the cross is made. This reminds us that we can call on God and that He is graciously present for us for the sake of Jesus’ death on the cross. After the invocation we then confess our sins to God our Father. And He is faithful and just and forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We then hear the preaching of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of our sins, not the preaching of Christ as only a moral example. Christ then gives us His own flesh and blood to eat, the same flesh and blood that hung on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
The forgiveness of sins is the message that we need to hear throughout our lives, and it is the message that the world needs to hear too. This message has always been unpopular in the world and always will be. I pray that the Lord continues to keep us faithful to His Word, which shows us our sin and also shows us the crucified Savior. So, let the mud of the world continue to fly in our face for the sake of Christ, because the mud of our sin has been washed away by the blood of Jesus on the cross. Amen.
“It is finished”
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