Rescue Operations in Both Kingdoms
By Larry D. Harvey

 

            In the days since September 11, 2001, it has become apparent that many thousands of lives were cruelly taken in acts of undisguised hatred and evil.  Every responsible citizen in this country has been put into deep turmoil within his mind, his heart, and his soul as he wrestles with this assault upon this nation and its citizens.  Yet, almost from the very first moment of the catastrophe, the people of this land evidenced some clear expectations of the nation as a whole, its leaders, and themselves.

             We considered it important that the rest of the world know that this nation remains united, confident of ultimate victory, and forever determined to defend itself against all those who would ever undertake to attack it or its people.  As a nation, we have shown no tolerance for those within or without who would seek to diminish that unity. 

             As citizens, we also evidenced clear expectations of our leaders in this crisis.  We expected them to put aside petty jealousy, self aggrandizement, and all secondary issues.  We expected them to speak as one without regard to their political party, to commit the necessary resources and efforts to rescuing victims, recovering the dead, and assisting the affected families and communities.  We showed no toleration for those who would use this crisis as an opportunity for self advancement, selfish interests, or personal acclaim.  They were expected to stay out of the way of the rescue and recovery efforts unless their presence would truly benefit those on site by their encouragement and words of appreciation.  We expected them to show mature discipline in determining and pursuing the actions to be taken against those who have declared themselves to be enemies of this nation and its people.  We did not seek quick answers, but desired real solutions.  We did not ask that polls be taken for our opinions before any course of conduct or action was determined.  Ask yourself whether or not you would have tolerated a leader who blocked necessary legislation to respond to the needs in New York City by interposing totally unrelated pork barrel demands fitting only his personal agenda?  Would you have tolerated divisiveness from either of the major political parties?  Would you have tolerated leaders that ignored our need for increased security in this dangerous age?

             The citizens of this country have not only shown expectations of the nation as a whole and its leaders, they have shown expectations of themselves.  Rescuers have put aside personal convenience and comfort.  The people have sought to provide assistance without any demand for personal acclaim.  No one has demanded assurance that their personal efforts will lead to the rescue of a particular person with a guarantee of success.  They have not sought only work in front of the TV cameras but in fact, the people have shown a true willingness to provide assistance to the rescuers as well as those rescued or recovered.  The people have desired only to be given the opportunity to do whatever it is they can do to help.

             All of these attitudes I believe to be right and proper.  They are how this nation, its leaders, and its people should respond to this horrible event.  We should be about the business of showing a firm determined commitment to recovery and to confronting the enemies of this nation.  Nothing should deter us from what we know now to be completely necessary.

             Without in any way detracting from the importance of the events and the necessary response, we must also remember that not only are we citizens of this nation, we are also members of the Body of Christ.  From the information that I can find, there are over 272,000,000 people in these United States.  Based upon the average rate of death for the year 1999, this nation sees over 6573 people die every single day.  Some of these people die with saving faith in Christ Jesus.  For them, we know that they pass through the grave to enjoy being with their Lord for all eternity.  For them, we both grieve and give thanks to our Lord.  However, I believe we can also surmise that there is a good chance that more of those 6573 people per day die without saving faith than with.  That is the tragedy that confronts our church every day.  They die in our nation, our states, our local communities, our congregations and our families.  The question I have is whether or not we can see the need for the same, if not greater, expectations of our church-at-large, our pastors, and ourselves as the priesthood of believers, as we hope for our nation, its leaders, and all citizens.  This does not even consider the rest of the world that needs to hear the Gospel of our Lord.

             Do we demand that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod clearly proclaim both within and without?  Do we confidently proclaim our trust in the Scriptures as the sole source and norm for all that we believe, teach, confess and practice?  Or do we allow personal egos, personal agendas, political type partisanship, or the like to confuse our message?  Do we have expectations concerning our pastors that both encourage and assist them in their work of rescuing those dead in their sin?  Do we make clear to our leaders that we expect protection from and training against the evil that comes in the form of false teaching that kills souls for all eternity?  Do we have expectations of ourselves, as members of the local congregations, that we grow in knowledge, understanding and wisdom so that we will recognize both dangers and opportunities to serve in these rescue efforts?  Are we, as individuals, willing to carry the burden of a daily confrontation with the stark reality that a good percentage of those 6573 people who die everyday pass through their graves to an eternal death?

             Is the eternal rescue of even a single victim of sin, Satan, and death worth your care, your commitment, and your efforts?  Each one was considered worth His sacrifice on the cross.

             What would our Heavenly Father have us to do now?  He would not have us seek to change ourselves, His Church, or others using Law.  His Law certainly convicts us as we undergo this self examination, but it offers no power for anything different.  We must flee to the Gospel, the Good News that is not only about our Savior but is truly His power to work real change in us.  The Holy, Universal, Apostolic Church is His creation.  We are promised that He will preserve the Church unto life everlasting.  He has promised to empower His Church with His Word by His Spirit through every struggle, persecution and time.  He has given us local congregations true to His Word.  He has given us a Synod in which we can walk together in true saving faith.  He has promised to incorporate every believer into the Body of Christ with each member a temple of the Spirit.  He has promised that the Church will always have all of the gifts necessary to fulfill His purpose in proclaiming the Gospel to a world dead in its sin.  He has promised His Faithfulness to every believer that each one of them will have daily opportunities in their vocations to witness to Godís love seen through the cross and empty tomb.  He has promised us faithful pastors who will proclaim the Word in all of its purity and administer the sacraments as instituted by Christ.  He has promised to impart, strengthen and preserve faith through the means of grace and made those means of grace readily available to us in this country.  He has given us opportunities to encourage our pastors in our prayers, financial support, consolation, and our witness to Christ Jesus.  Let us all lift up our prayers that He would work in each one of us that which is His sure promise in Christ Jesus, and in His grace, mercy and love use each one of us as His servants and heirs to proclaim the Good News to everyone He has put in our lives that more, even of the 6573, might be saved.  Let us truly live in our baptisms.

             God has given us our government to provide us with safety and security in our persons and property.  The church is His instrument to go beyond those real but temporal concerns and bring the word of salvation to all people.  Both kingdoms, state and church, are important, and we thank Him for them.  The church, however, deals directly with eternal citizenship.  Above all let us always rejoice in our Heavenly citizenship through Christ Jesus.

                        

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