James Wright, Local Columnist: We must begin to love our neighbor

With a title like this you might think this column is about defending the lives of the unborn or arguing against doctor assisted suicide. While these are worthy topics, this article is about your own life course: whether your lifestyle is headed towards life or towards death.

About to enter the promised land, God used Moses to warn the people. “God is good. He will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous. Obey the laws of God, walk in His ways, and you will live and multiply, be blessed in the land. If you turn from God, disobey Him, you will not live long in the land. You will die. So choose now! Do you want to live and prosper, then choose to continue to follow God, obeying his commandments, and you will live. But if you turn away from God, you are choosing death, and it is your own fault” (my paraphrase of Deuteronomy 30).

Today people tell us that there is no truth anymore. Truth has died. We can know nothing for certain. Academics teach our young men and women in public universities that there are no absolutes. No one true religion. No one moral code. No definite set of rights and wrongs. So, anything goes, but try not to hurt anyone. This is the new truth.

This is so ridiculous. It doesn’t take a PhD to see the hypocrisy of such a statement. If there is no truth, then one cannot say with certainty that there is no truth. So truth can and certainly does exist.

Such professors of uncertainty cannot live with their own doubt. When they go to their doctor with a cough, and the tests show they have lung cancer, they don’t say, “I don’t believe in your diagnosis,” refuse treatment, and continue to live very long in their assertion. They believe the truth, take the treatment, and hope to live longer, or they go home and cough themselves to death. No matter how loudly we protest, truth always has its way in the end.

The problem today is that the millions of people who believe there is no truth are left to mere opinions, and all opinions are held to be equally valid. The person then dives down into them self and looks for something that looks like truth. One’s own feelings, whether they are right or wrong, become the only truth to follow. Is it any wonder that families break apart, people think it is right to steal your identity, and poor souls wander through life seeking something on which to hold them from drifting into the sea of endless despair? “Your truth is that I committed adultery against you and ruined our marriage. My truth is that I am boldly following my course in life.”

Think of the poor children whose parents don’t want to inflict gender roles on them, so they don’t refer to them as boy or girl until the child begins to identify themselves with a certain gender. How confused can we make a child? And for what gain? All because perceptions and feelings mean more to us than truth.

This has led us to become a culture of death. People think that you don’t want to live anymore, can’t see any immediate purpose to your life, and don’t find happiness on the surface of each day, then you don’t need to live anymore. Seek out a state where there is doctor assisted suicide law, and end your life.

Do you find yourself pregnant at a time that is inconvenient for you to raise a child? Have no fear. Listen to the propaganda of the feminist political machine that says your unborn child is not a human being. You can remove the inconvenience with a couple of pills and a stomach ache. (Try not to think about the horror that comes when you realize you murdered the child God brought into the world through your own promiscuity because it was inconvenient for you to raise her or allow someone else to adopt her.) It’s a culture of death based on the lie that there is no truth. And such a departure from the laws and truth of God always leads away from life and towards death. Permanent death.

God says to the one He has called to Himself, “Choose life!” The Israelites were to show their love for the Lord by walking in the Lord’s ways and keeping His commandments. He would bless them in the new land he was leading them into. If they disobeyed and turned to false Gods, they would not live long in the land and they would perish. The message is the same for us.

Choose Life! We know that apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, we could never choose God. We were born alive in the body, but we were born spiritually dead to God. “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

There is hope for us. God has come to us through the power of His Word and Sacraments to give us life! He wants us to know He loves us. He wants to bring us into his forgiveness, no matter what we have done in the past. He wants us to live with purpose now and live with Him forever. But he leaves the choice up to us if we want to continue in the life He gives us. We continue to live as we continue to love Him and listen to Him.

This is what Jesus means when he says if we do not hate our own father and mother and wife and children we cannot be his disciples (Luke 14:26). You must love God first. That is what it means to have Him as your God. Loyalty to Jesus must be above everything. He takes first place in your life, not your own idea of truth. Your feelings do not change the fact that He has told us how to live and behave in the world. When we disobey Him we make something else our God and we deny the truth.

This is one of the reasons we know Jesus is really God. He had human desires like we all have, but he followed His Father’s commands first of all. The command was to love us, to die in our place, and to make the way of salvation sure for us. He gladly did that and it was to his glory.

Choose life! God is calling us to keep our sinful nature in check so it won’t overcome our service to God and to our neighbor. Choose life by fighting back against sinful desires for greed, revenge, pride, and our comfort at others expense. Attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. Not just going to heaven, but living to serve Him here and now!

Choose Life! Live for God by listening to His Word, loving Him, and walking in his commandments. Life is good. Live it to the full in Jesus.

Dr. James Wright is the pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altamont

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