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Consumer-Driven Or Spirit-Drawn?

I am a typical consumer. If a new grocery store opens down the street and advertises lower prices, I’ll abandon my old store without a second thought. After all, saving fifty cents a gallon on milk adds up. Airlines make a point of thanking passengers for choosing them because they know that consumers have choices and will go to a competitor if they are not satisfied with the price and service. Consumers have a lot of clout. They are in control.

When it comes down to what matters most for time and eternity, we don’t need choices. We need the saving truth of our loving God.

The “I’m in control” mindset carries over into people’s religious lives. This is not that surprising, for it appeals to our sinful human natures to think that we are in control, that we can set our own terms. As a result, many people choose for themselves what they want God to be like. They decide that as long as they are “spiritual” in some way, God is happy and accepting.

As in the realm of commerce, even so in religion it seems that just about anything goes. In the search to find what one wants, “church shopping” is viewed much the same as checking out the new grocery store.

Much more surprising and disturbing is the fact that many churches have gone along and, like many businesses, offer what they think the “consumer” wants. In the process, they eagerly accommodate what itching ears want to hear (see 2 Timothy 4:3). The desire for public acceptance, political correctness, and satisfying social needs ends up with relegating God’s Word to a lesser, even optional, status in some churches.

At the time of the Lutheran Reformation some five hundred years ago, things were in some ways much different. Subsistence living, not consumerism, was the norm. However, what was similar was that God’s Word was being pushed aside and ignored—being replaced with manmade rituals and rules as the way to God.

We remember with heartfelt gratitude to the Lord how the Holy Spirit led Martin Luther into the pure Word of God “which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). The only way to peace with God and eternal life is through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Christ’s obedience—not our own efforts at being good and loving people—is our righteousness before God. It is Jesus’ bloody sacrifice on Calvary’s cross and not our feeble attempts at making up for past failings which pays our sin-debt. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Even as Luther, so we as individual believers, as congregations, and as a church body have been drawn by God’s grace through His Spirit to build our lives and futures on the truth of the Word rather than on the whims, emotions, or whatever happens to be trending at the moment.

God’s Word is not always easy to hear. When God’s law exposes our sin and condemns us to hell, it cuts to the heart and terrifies. But it is the truth we need to hear, for it prepares us for the uplifting and life-giving news of Christ’s righteousness being credited to sinners by faith alone.

That gospel is not one of several salvation options on the shelf—it is the only one! “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”
(Acts 4:12).

When it comes down to what matters most for time and eternity, we don’t need choices. We need the saving truth of our loving God.

Take time today to thank your parents for teaching and modeling that truth for you from childhood on.

This Sunday thank your pastor for faithfully proclaiming the one true and saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

Every day praise God for His saving Word!