Our governments are discerning the appropriate response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which balances the risk of the virus and the strain on the economy, the fears of the cautious and the voices of the protestors, and of course the emotional and mental impact of social distancing.
Meanwhile, we are called to discern our appropriate response. Although we should not impose our faith and its understanding upon individuals or society, it should inform our personal and congregational response. Thankfully, the Lutheran tradition benefits from the writings of Martin Luther, who was frequently engaged in civil matters while remaining firmly rooted in his faith and its understanding.
Luther wrote The Two Kingdoms, which discerns the relationship between and our role in the civil kingdom and the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is here in glimpses, it is near, and it is not yet fulfilled. As baptized Christians, we are called to exist within these two kingdoms, in order to further manifest the kingdom of God within our lives, communities, and the entire creation.
Luther also wrote The Freedom of a Christian. Freedom has always been a treasured principle, but especially within the United States. There are American communities currently protesting that social isolation and its restrictions are infringing upon said freedom. Luther understood that Jesus the Christ is our only lord, or governing authority, BUT Christ commands us to love and to serve our neighbors. In essence, we have been freed in order to seek justice, act with compassion and mercy, and to love and serve ALL people, especially the most vulnerable. Perhaps, the most infamous and conclusive statement within The Freedom of a Christian is:
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all. Read the rest of this entry »