Wed 8 Aug 2012
I’ve forgotten to mention a few of my recent articles, so this is somewhat of a clean-up post. These three articles appeared in The Canadian Lutheran between March and June, 2012. The titles and a brief selection appear below, followed by links to the articles online. Given that my column for the July/August issue will be appearing online soon, it makes sense to mention these older ones now.
Let’s start with the most recent article (appearing in the May/June issue). Entitled “A key named ‘Promise,’” the piece uses John Bunyan’s struggle with despair to encourage Christians today who struggle with guilt and worry whether God might not forgive them. Author and scholar Gene Veith had a positive response over at Cranach when this article first came out.
A key named ‘Promise’
Bunyan could find no cure for despair in himself. No, the cure could only be found in the promises of Christ—in the Gospel. And so it is that, in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian only escapes Giant Despair when he remembers he carries a key in his bosom. The key’s name is ‘Promise,’ and it opens the prison doors.
Despair was not Bunyan’s problem alone. It existed long before Bunyan, and it continues to plague people long since. We see glimpses of it in ourselves when we worry that we have finally sinned too much. When we fear our faith is not strong enough to save. When we’ve let God down one too many times. But just as it did with Bunyan, Scripture comes running after us in these moments, reminding us of the promises of Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work in the Word, drawing us ever to Himself, opening our hearts to believe the promises of God.
The other two articles appeared in the March/April issue of The Canadian Lutheran. The first, “Gospel-motivated love,” is my column for the issue. It attempts to demonstrate how, in loving our neighbour, we can open the door to evangelism. The second, “Into Africa,” is a feature piece discussing how the Gospel gives us the desire to do social ministry in the first place, drawing on my (then) recent trip to Mozambique, Lesotho, and South Africa. The latter piece (“Into Africa”) was also reproduced in part in Canadian Lutheran World Relief’s May newsletter.
‘I thought I was in the the Twilight Zone,” he told The Christian Post. “These people are acting like what the Bible says a Christian does.” He saw genuine concern for his well-being, despite his opposition to Christianity. And so he turned to the Scriptures, eager to find what could motivate such selfless love. There, by the grace of God, he found Christ.
Let’s be clear: acts of love didn’t convert the man. But they did drive him to the Word of God, the very tool the Holy Spirit uses to engender faith. The good works of Christians pointed him back to the God who motivates good works.
Just as Christ took pity on the countless sick, the mourning, the poor, and the hungry, we too are called to show compassion to those less fortunate than us, and to share with them the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Indeed, it’s in acknowledging how good He has been to us that we find the impetus to love our neighbour. God first loved us—without our ever deserving it. That selfless love inspires us by the Holy Spirit to love others….
While thanks for salvation may motivate Christians to care for and love each others, that shouldn’t be the only role the Gospel plays. ‘In doing humanitarian work, we must do it in such a way that the world knows that the aid does not just fall from the sky or come out of our pockets,’ Dr. Neitzel explains. ‘We must be clear that there is is Someone who is the provider. And this Someone is the Creator who created us, sustains us, and gave His Son to die for us and save us.’ Loving our neighbours means caring for them in both body and soul. And caring for the soul means proclaiming the Gospel.