Letter: Love God as wellPublished 10:26am Monday, March 18, 2013
Perhaps Mr. Obama should stick to campaigning, something that he is good at rather than pontificating on the Bible of which he is not. In an interview the other day about the election of a new pope, Mr. Obama said that he hoped the next pope carries the “central message of the Gospel.”
“My hope is, based on what I know about the Catholic Church and the terrific work that they’ve done around the world and certainly in this country, you know, helping those who are less fortunate, is that you have a pope who sustains and maintains what I consider the central message of the Gospel that we treat everybody as children of God and that we love them the way Jesus Christ taught us to love them.”
His response is indicative of what is so wrong with what is understood to be the main emphasis of the message and purpose of those churches purported to be associated with Christ and His Gospel. Loving our fellow man is not the central message of the gospel. That is half of the Great Commandment; the other half is to love God with all our heart and soul and mind (Matt. 22:36-40). This is of the Law.
We stand lost and condemned because of our sins before God because we have not loved Him or our neighbor as we should; this is the bad news for which the Good News, the Gospel, comes to remedy.
The central message of the Gospel is we receive from Christ everything that belongs to our salvation. This is our great need. That is what the Church is to proclaim. The goal of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is, in short, to proclaim God’s justification of sinners, not to reform society.
What Obama and so many churches are prone to do is to confuse the Great Commandment, which is of the Law, with the Great Commission, which is of the Gospel and end up promoting a Social Gospel which is no gospel at all but law. Our salvation cannot be achieved by loving our neighbor. We are not saved by our good works (Eph. 2:8,9) but rather have been saved for good works (Eph. 2:10) and since, as Luther said, God does not need them, the only place for them to go is out to our neighbor.
Pastor Randy Fossum St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Austin