I don’t believe there could be a more appropriate theme than “Here We Stand”—based on Ephesians 6:13—as we step into the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” It reflects our human struggles as described in the prior verse in Ephesians: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (6:12 NIV).
These struggles drove Martin Luther to search for answers from Scripture for the hopeless, broken, and sinful state of humanity. Luther’s conclusion was that we have a “righteousness that God gives freely by His grace to people who don’t have righteousness of their own.”* This is the foundation of the Christian church today.
I was blessed to have Christian parents who brought me to be baptized and shared with me the faith that Luther speaks of. Neither of my parents had the opportunity to study beyond eighth grade—despite both having had dreams of being in the medical profession. But that did not stop them from becoming leaders as a husband, wife, farmer, mother, father, church, and community member. My mother, especially, was a pillar of the faith!
I was inspired and intrigued by the thoughts of Mike Donehey, lead singer of the Christian group Tenth Avenue North, who noted that Jesus did not ask anyone to be a “leader.” Curious, I did some research. I found numerous examples when Jesus invites individuals of the Bible to “follow me”—but with no mention of being a “leader.” Even Jesus didn’t consider Himself a leader. “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19 NIV).
With that in mind, that leaves us with only One leader: Our Heavenly Father. We are all followers.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
We are “God’s handiwork” (or “handmade” by God) with work already prepared for us to do. Let us say “yes” to the opportunities before us and say Here I Stand …
to speak the truth, reflecting the love of God.
in defense and protection of the precious, vulnerable, human lives—that are each “hand-made” by God—from the moment of conception to natural death.
to teach our children and grandchildren who they are and WHOSE they are. Scripture reminds us that we are NOT our own. We were created by God in His image, fully human, male and female, as spiritual beings—body, mind, and soul. We belong to Him. Losing our way in sin, we were bought back—redeemed—by the blood of Christ Jesus and called to love and glorify Him by living holy and honorable lives.
in defense of marriage as God designed it between one man and one woman and remembering sex is a gift from God to be shared within the marriage bed only.
in obedience to God and His commandments as the “great Leader.”
“[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ … And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39b).
My mother was the leader she was because she was a follower of Jesus Christ—the ultimate Follower of His heavenly Father.
With Jesus as the example, I prefer to be a follower rather than a leader. It takes the pressure and focus off me and my shortcomings and places the focus on the heavenly Father and His will for my life. Leadership is simply the byproduct of being a follower of the heavenly Father.
As followers of Christ Jesus, we will “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might … Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10, 13).
Yes, the days are evil, so we pray:
Lord, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way;
Direct, protect, and feed me from day to day.
Without Your grace and favor I go astray;
So take my hand, O Saviour, and lead the way.
Lord, when the tempest rages, I need not fear,
For You, the Rock of Ages, are always near.
Close by Your side abiding, I fear no foe,
For when Your hand is guiding, in peace I go.
(Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978, Text: Public domain)
Amen. Here I stand, serving the Lord of Life!
*@Ligonier. “Justification by Faith Alone: Martin Luther and Romans 1:17.” Ligonier Ministries. N.p., 3 May 2016. Web.