What’s a Lutheran?
What does it mean to be a Lutheran? I once was chatting with the chaplain of a Lutheran retirement community. He was telling me about how he started off his ministry there by making visits to most of the residents. Kinda like I did when I first got here. There was the standard fair of pastor “get-to-know-you” questions. Where do you hail from? How long have you lived here? What did you do before retirement? Do you have kids?
Well, this chaplain ended those conversations with a question he thought would be fun to hear the answer to: “Why do you believe you’ll go to heaven?” What is it that gives you your hope that salvation awaits you? He asked this question in the first few visits he made. But then the answers started to depress him, so he stopped asking it.
So, the answer that people pretty consistently gave was: “I’m a good person, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to heaven.” Now you might be thinking: “I could see myself giving that answer.” If this were Family Feud… survey says: “I’m a good person.” is the number one answer with 90%. I understand. It is a common position for Christians to hold. But, the answer that he was looking for was: “Jesus”. The answer that would bring a smile to nearly every Lutheran pastor’s face is: “Jesus”.
Being Lutheran is basically putting your eternal confidence and heavenly hope in Jesus. You can boil down the whole of all Lutheran theology and ministry into one little moment: when the time comes for you to be confronted with your mortality, be at peace in the confidence Christ gives. Be strong in faith. Depend on Christ only knowing that beautiful heaven awaits.