Rev. Eric Brown
When I was a young fellow, in high school and college, the president of the LCMS was Dr. Barry, and he had a little catch phrase that was fantastic. "Get in the Word, Missouri!" That was his admonition to us: Be in the Word of God, study the Word of God, be shaped by the Word of God. It was advice that helped me navigate all the strange days of my youth, and it guides me still. So, I would pass on to you that same advice: Get in the Word, HT reader!
But practically speaking, what does this mean? This isn't just a finger wagging "read your Bible more" sort of thing. Rather this: Remember that the world is going to throw all sorts of assertions and ideas at you. You will get told by friends, by teachers, by media, by everything all sorts of "truth." In response, as you evaluate all of these ideas, your thought should be, "What does God's Word say?" And then we should pay attention to what the Word of God says.
And note, this is what the Word actually says—not what we think it should say and not what we assume it says. Get in the Word. What does God actually proclaim in His Word? In fact, this is how you ought to evaluate and judge those who claim to be speaking for God (that includes me, dear reader and how you should evaluate me and what I am writing here). Does it agree, does it confess (that is to con-fess, to with-speak) what the Scriptures teach?
Consider what folks in the world say to you. Do they say that there is no right and no wrong, or do they say that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God? Do they tell you to do what your heart tells you, or do they note that it is out from out the heart that all sort of sinful desires come? Do they treat good and evil as just "social constructs" that don't really exist, or is sin and temptation something that lies crouching at your door? Be in the Word, so that you know what God says is right, rather than doing what you think is right in your own eyes.
Likewise, as you end up leaving home, go out into the greater world and have to find a place to hear the Word preached, what do they preach to you? Is the point to help you realize your best life now, or do they tell you that you will have hardship but take heart, for Christ has overcome the world for you? Do they use the Word of God as a club to beat you down, or do they teach that these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you have life in His name? Do they tell you that you have to jump through hoops to make God love you, or do they say that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? Be in the Word, so that you know whether or not the pastor is selling filth of his own devising, or implanting the Word which is able to save your soul.
It's a big, wide world out there, full of lots of ugliness and lies and falsehoods, even from folks claiming to speak for God. Be in the Word, because it's not by your own reason or strength that you'll get by. Rather, the Holy Spirit will call you by the Gospel, enlighten you with His gifts, sanctify and keep you in the truth faith. And the Spirit does this by taking that Word and using it in His Church to daily and richly forgive all your sins. If that's not what you're getting, then it's not for you. You, be in the Word. That's where God keeps you safe.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois.
Created: May 23rd, 2016