• Talk about Your Trip Next Fall

  • LEA Weekly Devotional

    Week of October 15, 2006

    Proper 23 (B)

     

    Extended Reading: Hebrews 3:12–19

     

    Talk about Your Trip Next Fall

     

    “So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12 The Message).

     

    Today’s title might bring back memories of clever word plays. Or annoying puns. (Whichever comes first.) But, with a little imagination, the title relates to today’s Bible reading.

     

    You certainly do not dabble in evil unbelief, against which the text warns. But we who teach in Lutheran schools, confirmation classes, week day schools, youth groups, and Sunday school classrooms always are in danger of tripping over stuff left lying around. (If yours is a “shared classroom,” you’re probably more cognizant of this truth.)

     

    What kinds of evil unbelief clutters our environment?

     

    As good as we are, evil unbelief may be particularly noticeable in the following manifestations:

     

    1. Over-emphasis on Law. We need to keep order in the classroom. We teach the Ten Commandments. We may be really proud of that bulletin board we built on teachings in Leviticus. We teach to state and church body standards. We unquestioningly comply with all congregational and school policies. We begin, transition, and end our classes with volleys of shoulds and should nots.
    2. Over-emphasis on Gospel. We are the nicest people in the world. Go ahead and cut us off on the Interstate; we love you dearly. See, we’ll even flash the sign of the cross. We exalt spiritual, political, academic, personal, social, and expressive freedom. We sin freely and boldly to make God look good. Not that we ever use the word sin—at least not with anyone who might be offended.
    3. Different lifestyle outside the classroom or congregational campus. Our personal lives are, well, personal. They belong to us. What we do away from the job—er, ministry—is our own business.
    4. Foul language. No, not the kind you hear on loading docks or TV. This kind of foul is more like the kind in bowling—where you step over the line on the way to your goal. Foul language happens when we step beyond the line of vocabulary development when teaching about Jesus. We use religious words that others don’t understand yet. (They can be common words: grace, Gospel, justification, righteous, etc.)
    5. Reluctance to repent of our own sins. Zealous to point out the sins of others. (Those we serve will notice this—before we do, often because they’re equally guilty!)

     

    How do we handle tripping over clutter of sneaky, insidious evil unbelief? When we fall, we need to talk about it. The first step to recovery is to acknowledge the problem, which is exactly what we do in confession and repentance. And in God’s freely given forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit guides our steps.

     

    Newly empowered to watch our step, we’re enabled to teach both Law and Gospel in proper perspective, teaching the need for forgiveness and salvation earned and freely given through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We’re able to relate what God has done for us to lifestyles that reflect our gratitude for God’s goodness. And our instruction and witness is such that any unbeliever or malnourished believer can understand what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

     

     

    Written by Ed Grube

    Director of Publications & Communications

    © 2006 Lutheran Education Association

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