Identity in Christ and God's Mission

As we approach the upcoming CLB Biennial Convention (June 8-11), one item of business is presenting for approval the “Statement on Human Persons and Sexuality,” a draft of which was presented and discussed at the 2022 Biennial Convention. The final paper that will be brought before this convention was refined by feedback from that 2022 discussion, along with feedback from the Fall Conference at Lutheran Brethren Seminary and private conversations with key individuals.

It is always worthwhile to study and reflect on why we believe what we believe, especially in consideration of our relationships with family members and neighbors. From time to time we ought to test our approach to church ministry, identifying weaknesses in areas where we may have fallen short. This hopefully leads to the adjustment of some policies, improving the quality of our ministry and the health of our relationships. But in a broader sense, as we hope to share the good news of the cross with those who are hurting, feeling alone, or weighed down by this broken world, we want to ask how we can renew that commitment in our hearts to reach those who don’t know Jesus.

That is the purpose of all this work and why a team was commissioned to study and assess our culture, our relationships, and our philosophy of ministry. All this has been filtered through God’s Word and our theology as the Church of the Lutheran Brethren in order to produce a handful of written pages. This “Statement on Human Persons and Sexuality” has been so carefully crafted for several reasons.

First, we recognize our cultural shift towards championing individual choice in the matter of human identity, including sexuality and gender identity. This complicates much of our understood biology and puts many Bible-believing Christians in a challenging position. The Statement paper reads as “an invitation to hear and trust God’s design for sexuality as revealed in his Word where he instructs us and guides us toward healthy and joyful human flourishing.” We pray that this paper will help each of us, as we have been called to serve those around us, to find clarity in what we believe and where we find our identity.

Second, we know that this paper reaches beyond being an academic exercise. This paper is built on God’s Word and layered with what the committee learned through careful study of our culture with the intention of shaping the way we share the gospel through our words and our actions. We have heard from many pastors, church leaders, and individuals who have sat with hurting people and have themselves wrestled with the reality of our sinful world. We desire that this study and the words in this paper make an impact on the way we see our neighbors and the way we see ourselves. We recognize that we are all sinful beings, holding onto Jesus as our only hope. God calls us to live out our identity, true to God’s Word, in a loving and redeeming way within our communities and around the world.

Third, we want this paper to grow and expand into resources that can be used in each of our congregations. Many recommended resources already exist, some of which were used as part of the study and research for this paper. We look forward to finding ways for us, as a family of churches, to come alongside each other to partner in the mission of the gospel, growing as a Disciple-Making Church, pointing to Jesus. In him we find our identity as his creation, his children, and his Church.

This issue of Faith & Fellowship will explore this topic theologically, practically, and relationally. After the three articles, you will find a four-week Bible Study by Pastor Luke Kjolhaug to help us process this further and offer a meaningful way to live it out. 
Tim Mathiesen serves as Director of Communications & Prayer for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.
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