May 21, 2012

Because of their importance, I keep my citizenship papers in my safety deposit box right next to my passport. Now don’t misunderstand. I am a natural born citizen of the United States. I’m not talking about those kinds of citizenship papers. Being “natural born” also makes me by nature a blind and dead enemy of God, a citizen of Hell. But I have been naturalized and am now a citizen of Heaven, and I have the papers to prove it, my citizenship papers, my baptismal certificate.

That certificate testifies to the fact that I have been washed by water and the Word and that, in the name of the Triune God, I became a citizen of Heaven. I am now part of “a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). So I have two citizenships, one eternally more important than the other. Indeed, my allegiance to my natural born citizenship flows from the unnatural born citizenship of my baptism.

For the Christian, citizenship in one’s country means more than passive obedience to the command to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1a). People who belong to Jesus Christ live their lives in, and in response to, their baptisms. We obey the laws of the land because that is how people redeemed in the blood of Jesus live.

We obey the laws of the land and strive for peace and order so that nothing hinders the spread of the Gospel. The spread of the Gospel is our overarching mission. Working through the government is not one of the action plans under this objective. The purpose of the Church is to extend the Kingdom of God, not to establish a Christian government. We do this by calling people to repentance, proclaiming the Gospel, and administering the sacraments.

Bringing our influence to bear on our government and country, however, goes hand in hand with the spread of the Gospel. Jesus commands that we be “salt” in this world (Matthew 5:13) preserving and proclaiming His truth in a “truth-less” society. Jesus commands that we be “light” in the world’s darkness (Matthew 5:14) producing the “fruit of light” (Ephesians 5:9) and exposing the “unfruitful works of darkness” (11).

Here we can run into problems. In obedience to Jesus’ words, we may charge into the world but leave our citizenship papers behind and behave as if we are not a people belonging to God. Our primary goal becomes changing laws and the government and the world and we lose sight of the life-changing goal of the Gospel. We speak condemnation in anger instead of the truth in love. We entrench people instead of engage them. We tarnish our true citizenship and run the risk of hindering the Gospel.

Lutherans For Life
The mission of Lutherans For Life (LFL) is to “equip Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life.” We expand the concept of “voices” to include things like an educational voice, the voice of service and caring, the voice of forgiveness and restoration. Many kinds of “voices” are needed to uphold the God-given value of human life. And yes, we include the “political voice.”

LFL is not itself a political voice. But if we carry out our mission we pray it will equip and properly motivate Christian voices in the public square. LFL wants Lutherans out there being salt and light. We want them engaging our culture and making a difference. But we want them properly motivated. We want them to take their citizenship papers with them. We want them to remember Whose they are and Who they represent. They are ambassadors for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

How they carry out their ambassadorship in the political realm will vary. It depends upon things like gifts, abilities, and vocation. Some may be activists or lobbyists. Others may write letters to editors and government leaders. Some may sponsor voter registration events or work in campaigns or even run for public office. Perhaps it will be day-to-day conversations with fellow Christians or those in the work place. Of course, everyone can and should vote in a way that reflects our heavenly citizenship and the Word-based values that come with this citizenship.

A closely related aspect of LFL’s mission is to help people see the magnitude of the sin of abortion. Abortion does not belong in a list of issues like health-care reform or Medicare or foreign policy. Abortion is not an “issue.” It is an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Satan loves abortion. He uses it to destroy human life, and not just human life but human life created by God, human life for whom Jesus shed His blood on the cross, and human life that God desires to call into an eternal relationship with Him. Satan uses abortion to turn people from the Lord of Life to the god of death to rescue them from their problems. Then he turns on them and uses abortion to wound and burden their hearts and lead them away from the hope of the Gospel to the hopelessness of their own despair. Satan loves abortion, it undermines the Gospel.

Therefore, our baptismal citizenship papers, while allowing differing views on how to fix the economy or Social Security or a number of other issues, do not allow for the support of abortion. Our baptismal citizenship papers do not allow for the support of candidates or legislation or regulations that support abortion. I’m not suggesting we become “one-issue voters.” I’m stating that abortion is not an “issue” at all in the political sense of that word. Candidates or legislation that support abortion or its euphemism “a woman’s right to choose,” become disqualified for Christian support. If they cannot uphold the fundamental right to life, if they cannot do better for fearful women than opening the door for them to the abortion mill, where they stand on the issues becomes irrelevant.

Many will continue to want LFL to be more of a political voice, especially in this election year. But being such a voice is not our mission. Neither is our mission to evangelize the world. That’s the mission of the Church. But if we are faithful to our mission to “equip Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life,” one of the results will be properly-motivated political voices. If we are faithful to our mission, one of the results will be evangelizing the world for central to our mission is our message—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.