December 7, 2016

Think of us as an arms dealer.

I’m often offered the opportunity to explain Lutherans For Life with questions like these: “What kind of organization are you?” “What do you do?” “Do you operate pregnancy centers and maternity homes?” “Do you give financial assistance? Do you arrange adoptions?” “Do you endorse and oppose politicians?” “Do you lobby legislation?” “Do you conduct funding campaigns?” “Do you publish research?” “Do you picket and protest?”

We certainly support all of the above. We hope our labors lead to each of them happening. However, our mission is more of a message. Our business is best defined as delivering a message: Lutherans For Life equips Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life. We connect the Christian Scriptures and Lutheran doctrine to our society’s life issues—in this culture which uses death as a solution or views it as a salvation. We explore and educate how the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection brings unconditional grace, absolute forgiveness, immortality, and purpose to human beings at every stage and in every state, especially under life-and-death circumstances. We serve as squires and attendants who support the communion of saints by outfitting them to be the operatives that engage these situations in the field and on the front lines.

We do not measure our success in lives saved. We do not evaluate victory in terms of tallying dollars, tracking publications, computing participants, or counting hours. In fact, we cannot appraise our own effectiveness at all. Only our Savior and Lord does that, in His time, according to His good and gracious will, and not always visibly or comprehensibly.

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how” (Mark 4:26-27).

“[F]or it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13), “[a]nd I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Salvation, whether ours or anyone else’s, remains Father-Son-and-Spirit’s work. He regularly hides this miracle and mystery in human hearts and masks it beneath earthly elements and otherwise ordinary, even apparently contrary, means. If He left the objective to us, we would not only fail but ruin it. We ourselves, simple and selfish and sinful, stand in need of the very salvation we are relaying. But since we do not produce this redeeming relationship with our God and Father, we likewise cannot destroy it. He who has already assumed responsibility for all shortcomings—and He alone—creates, continues, and culminates all successes.

God’s involvement doesn’t make ours somehow unnecessary though. If anything, He consecrates and elevates our activities. It takes no less than a sword to set souls free unto eternity. Nothing else than God Himself incarnate, crucified and risen again, proclaimed and performed, plunders a person out of death’s clutches and places that person among the company of heaven’s household.

“[T]hey have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace” (Ezekiel 13:10a).

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11-12).

Nevertheless, we arm with implements of the surgeon’s variety, not the soldier’s. We supply sharp blades, but they are scalpels for medicine and needles for healing, not daggers for aggression or spears for defeating. We furnish the Lutheran community to liberate prisoners rather than to lacerate opponents. We slip almost-invisible weapons—conversations and relationships—inside the minds and mouths of regular folks like you, so that what our country increasingly declares contraband you can smuggle behind enemy lines and defend the preciousness of every human being, especially the one right in front of you. We aren’t the soldiers or the smith; we’re just the supplier.

Think of us as your arms dealer.