The numbers are not good. The percentage of people who are a part of any religion has been on a steady decline for decades. Less people know and believe what the Christian faith teaches and confesses. This is especially true for the younger crowd.

How did this happen? Churches bear some of the responsibility. Many churches are not proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. Instead, they proclaim the secular gospel of diversity and inclusion. Sin, hell, and the cross are tossed aside for the latest cause. The God who will bring fierce judgment on the earth is replaced by a God who is nothing but love and acceptance. This domesticated deity affirms us so that we may feel good about ourselves.

Other churches, meanwhile, attempt to entertain and amuse to attract new members. Such services can leave the impression that God is not to be feared or taken too seriously. In addition, their messages teach us how we can win in life and become a success. Therefore, theology is replaced by therapy in many pulpits.

But what is happening in churches today is only part of the problem. The bigger problem is what is happening in the home. Parents may bring their children to Sunday school and confirmation. They may even take the time to come to the Divine Service occasionally. Thus, there may be Christian instruction going on. But the catechesis (instruction) happening at church is quickly undone by the catechesis that is happening at home. The instruction that happens at home makes it clear that the Christian faith in not that important. What happens at church has little to do with life at home. Fathers are not serving as heads of the house and showing the love of Christ. Parents are not taking the time to spend in devotion and prayer with their family. Work, school, sports, affluence, leisure, and possessions are the true priorities. If there is time, perhaps church can be squeezed in. In the end, children see that life in their home is not much different from any other home.

What results is that the younger folks are simply handed off to the world. This is where they are to find meaning and purpose in their lives. Instead of looking to their heavenly Father, they are to look elsewhere to find significance and value for their existence. Social media is a popular choice. After all, many of them have some sort of electronic device at hand. This is what will teach them how they should live and the values they should follow.

If this is how it is, how can we expect improvement in our society? There will be more confusion when it comes to sexuality and gender. Self-absorbed, indulgent behavior will increase. So will loneliness, depression, anxiety, and suicide. People will live lives that leave them lost and empty.

God did not create you to have a lost and empty existence. He created you to live under him and receive his love and goodness. But what will God accept us? What will he do with sinners like us? We have pushed him aside to put ourselves in his place. We have been selfish, petty, and impatient with others. Who could blame God if he rejected us? What assurance do we have that his anger and judgment won’t break out against us?

The assurance is found in the cross. The cross was not some sort of unexpected turn of events. This is why the Lord came. He came to reconcile sinners to his heavenly Father. Reconciliation means that there must be death. The Law states that blood must be shed to make atonement. Jesus would be that death for us. His blood would flow on the cross. But the death he endured could not keep him. He would rise again on the third day. Because he lives, our sins will no longer be counted against us. All that would condemn us has been taken away.

Jesus came for sinners. That is why he was baptized by John in the Jordan River. That is why he was willing to endure the cross. Because of what Jesus did for us, we are no longer doomed to live a lost and empty existence. We have place with the heavenly Father. That is where we belong.

God's peace be with you,
  Pastor Nelson