March 20, 2012 - Not Playing To The Polls

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Not Playing To The Polls

Maybe some of you were inundated as I was recently with phone calls on behalf of presidential candidates telling me how they each have the best chance of defeating the incumbent. It gets a bit tiresome and empty-sounding after awhile, doesn't it?
But our Lord is not as calculating or self-serving as we are. We wonder what we’ve got to do to get people on our side – to win the popular vote. We follow opinion polls and try to meet people where they are. We refrain from making the big blunder – the embarrassing scream, the media gaffe or stumble – whatever it is that might end up losing our lead.
In the Gospel reading from John 6 for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, under the one year series, we heard that the masses wanted to make Jesus king by force. After all, He was imminently electable, if the polls meant anything! But Jesus didn’t come to pander or play to an audience. He had compassion, as the Creator in communion with His creation; as the Shepherd come to care for His sheep. So He healed them and He fed them, but when they sought to make Him king, He hit the road – not for more campaigning, but to save men from their idolatry. When not even walking across water prevented them from following Jesus for the wrong reasons, He turned and gave them as straight-talking a stump speech as there ever was. He told them that while they were after a free-lunch and health-care system, He had come to be their Savior! He is the Bread of Life Come Down from Heaven, Who gives His flesh for the life of the world. Eat and drink of His flesh and you have life everlasting. Apart from that, no matter how full your belly is, you have no life in you at all!
But our Savior's words did more than just turn men’s stomachs! His words turned them away! Talk about losing your audience and throwing the race to your opponent! What in the world was Jesus thinking?! Simply put, what He was thinking is not what we think. He was thinking about others, and not about Himself – not about popularity, but about saving the world! So it’s no surprise that He doesn’t try to change His way of speaking and doing things to garner mass appeal. He’s neither a politician nor showman. He’s the Savior. He doesn’t need our vote. He came to give His life as a ransom for many, whether we want it or not!
When Jesus turns to His Twelve, expecting them to leave also, it’s Peter who says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” As unpleasant and unpopular as they may be, Christ’s Words are the speaking of Him through Whom all things were made and by Whom all things are made new again! Speaking for myself, I’m far too concerned about how people may react to what I do and say! I worry about me! Jesus puts the whole world ahead of Himself and sets about saving sinners. He’ll be silent when we accuse Him. He’ll put the best construction on our evil and pray, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” It’s as if He hasn’t a self-serving bone in His body. He cares only about us and our eternal rescue! It’s as if He’s willing to say whatever we need, even it if makes us hate Him and leave in a huff! Yeah, like that's going to win an election!
But as we all well know, Christ's words are not meant to win elections, but to save sinners from their sin!
I’m glad our LCMS President Matt Harrison spoke not-so-softly and without benefit of a big stick recently, in behalf of those who have no voice in our country. That kind of talk doesn’t sit well with the world. No surprises! The world didn’t like what it heard when Jesus spoke clearly enough to turn people away from their idolatrous version of faith! The world seldom likes the Truth, but by that Truth, plainly and honestly spoken in a genuinely self-less love, the Spirit works faith when and where He pleases in those who hear the Gospel. Some will hear and rejoice in the Life God is giving. We leave such re-creating to God! It wasn’t President Harrison’s job to calculate what would get the best hearing. It was his job merely to speak an unpopular truth on behalf of the unborn. That’s what we are all given to do; namely, speak the Truth on behalf of those whom the Lord would grant new birth from above, though many will turn away and despise it.
I’m glad the ACELC keeps speaking what we all need to hear, and that others are speaking it along with us. We are far from a lone voice. We’re repeating what Christ has entrusted to the saints, and what many others have and are speaking on the basis of the Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions. We’re not calculating how that may or may not fly with any focus group. We don’t have to. We’re not running for office and it’s not our election to win or lose. That’s all in the hands and mouth of the One Who needed no one to make Him king – or anything else – by force. He’s all that we need already. He’s all we’ve got to confess before this world!
A blessed closing of Lent to all of you from the members of the ACELC, as we look forward to the Festival of our Savior’s Resurrection!

Your Servants For Christ's Sake,
The ACELC Board of Directors
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