What's on Your Bulletin Board
LEA Weekly Devotional
Week of November 5, 2006
Proper 26 (B)
Extended Reading: Hebrews 9:11–22
What’s on Your Bulletin Board?
“If … animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God” (Hebrews 9:13–15 The Message).
Television would have us believe that one bank’s credit card protects holders from greedy hordes of financial Huns. They end with a query meant make us question our own security: “What’s in your wallet?”
What’s in your wallet? spoken to Lutheran educators is likely to evoke answers that would stun the credit card pushers. Check out our wallets and you’ll find a few dollars, photos of family, and a coupon for a second hamburger when you buy the first at full price. Oh … and an LEA membership card, of course!
Lutheran educators need a more relevant question, something like What’s on your bulletin board?
This is not to make any readers squirm, but examination of Lutheran education bulletin boards in schools and congregations around the country frequently reveal emphasis on Law—not that anybody is quoting Leviticus or Numbers. But often, the boards exhort students to behave according to the standards of good Christians. Not that such behavior isn’t good, right, and salutary.
The problem with behavior is problem behavior! We live with it on both sides of our desk. We might be tempted to believe—or at least give the impression—that good behavior is like the blood of beasts mentioned in the Old Testament: Oh, say can you see the good Christian that’s me? I sacrifice all the joys of life. And I’d like to tell you about a few things you need to sacrifice—if you want to be a really good Christian, that is.
Good thing the Gospel keeps us from sinking into the cesspool of self-righteousness and judgmentalism—a very real trap for even the most devout Christian. Sacrificial and other categories of good behavior are valid only when accompanied by belief in the Sacrifice to end all sacrifices—the sacrifice that Jesus made to take away our sins and equip us for service. As much as we know this message, sometimes it takes special effort to remember and teach it. And it might take even more effort and review for our learners to learn it.
But back to bulletin boards. What’s on yours? Does the message tell what students should do for God or what God has done for students?
If the Apostle James was your professor, emphasis would definitely be on the former. He propounds the truth that faith, or belief, without the fruits of faith is dead. Much earlier in the History of Salvation, Isaiah says that good deeds are nothing but filth. With such contrast right within the 66 books of God’s word, Hebrews (and the Gospels and Epistles) places James and Isaiah in perspective: “Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.”
Whatever is on your bulletin board, be sure your students know what God has done for them through Jesus Christ. And help them to understand what God has authorized and commissioned them to do in His name.
Written by Ed Grube
Director of Publications & Communications
© 2006 Lutheran Education Association
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