This morning I thought of a new message to put out on our church sign. This might seem like a simple task, but it's not. Let me explain. After all, what can you say that is meaningful and honest in ten words or less?
Normally, we don't receive any feedback from our messages. But sometimes we do.
A few years ago I had the following messages put up: HATE WHAT IS EVIL. CLING TO WHAT IS GOOD.
A few days later a man called and left a message on the church voicemail. He and his boys had been driving by and saw the sign. They were struck by the two messages and began to talk about them. The man said that he liked the second message. However, he requested that we remove the first message. He was worried that it might be misconstrued.
I wish that the man had left his number so that I could call him back. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to let him know where both messages came from. They are found next to each other in the Bible in Romans 12:9.
There was another message on our sign that solicited some feedback. This time the message was: LET GOD BE GOD.
The comment came from one of our own members. She asked me what this message meant. After all, isn’t God, God? What does it mean to let God be God?
“Let God be God” comes from a book with the same title. The subtitle of the book is: “An Interpretation of the Theology of Martin Luther.” Now, I have never read this book. But its title is catchy, and it has made me think. It might be surprising, but the author of “Let God be God” is not a Lutheran. He’s an English Methodist by the name of Philip Watson.
What does it mean to let God be God? What does this mean to you? What does it mean for me? What does it mean for us as Lutherans?
The answer comes from the Small Catechism. It comes from the explanation of the Lord’s Prayer. Regarding the First Petition, Luther writes: “God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.”
What does it mean for us to let God be God? Consider Luther’s explanation to the Second Petition: “The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.”
What does it mean to let God be God? Think about Luther’s explanation to the Third Petition: “The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.”
To let God be God is fear, love and trust Him above else.
To let God be God is to confess that we are poor, miserable sinners in need of a Savior.
To let God be God is to confess that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
To let God be God is to make the Apostle Paul’s confession our own: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20-21). Amen.