By Rev. Dennis W. Matyas

Recently, Lutheran scholar John Bombaro wrote a powerful article for here. Within, he argues that those who are justified in Christ have had their superficial and shallow identities replaced with the historical occurrence of their own baptisms and are free to love as Christ loves. Pursuits that aim to re-justify a self-image of virtue, therefore, are expressions of a Christian seeking to shackle themselves again to a law that does not fit and will not acquit. “The Christian is free from asinine, self-defined religion, of course, but also the dictates and pressures of every political, social, and ideological agenda the world has to offer.” Amen and amen.

In a news conference last week addressing the looting and rioting in New York, the mayor came on and called on religious leaders to help calm the tensions and encourage people to stop the violence (an interesting request of a non-essential service, but I digress). The request poses an interesting question about the role that the church should or should not play in society, and what a fine line it is that we walk. Is it the church’s job to stop violent outbursts within the community? No, it is not. Is it appropriate for the church community to have open and honest conversations about the concerns being expressed within our society, and love and care for our neighbors? Absolutely.