In confirmation class, our students learn that God’s moral Law is like a mirror. When we look into it in view of our own lives, we see reflected an accurate moral understanding of our own lives. The conclusion for every human on earth is that we are morally guilty, and in need of rescue from the punishment we deserve.
Recently, I’ve noticed how some people consider Lutheran theology to be “hateful” or “hate-filled.” It seems that these words are used in the same vein as the recently-coined concept of a “hate crime.” That alone should make Christians uncomfortable with this trend in the legal system of our states and nation. But that’s beside the point.
More importantly, it seems that this opinion of Lutheran theology may actually be the result of the moral Law’s function as a mirror. When we hear God’s condemnation of sin, most of us understand that God hates sin, even the sins that we have committed ourselves. But what if we have adopted a sinful “lifestyle” of some kind, making something that God hates an essential part of our lives? Then it might seem as though God hates not only sin, but us as well. Nothing could be further from the truth, but this only becomes apparent when we hear the Gospel, that Jesus Christ, God’s Son received the full condemnation for all our sins — even the ones that we have made an essential part of our lives. Yet the message of God’s mercy does not get a hearing when the sinner refuses to acknowledge that sin is truly wicked and hateful itself. In such a case, the gospel message strengthens impenitence.
Here’s something else to consider. When someone says that Lutheran theology is “hateful” or the like, it may be an accurate observation, via the mirror of God’s law. Perhaps that person is hearing God’s moral Law loud and clear, and describing what he sees in that mirror: genuine hatred. Now, we know that a mirror reflects an image of the person looking into it. So the next question is this: How can one help such a person to realize that he’s describing his own heart? To that question I don’t have an answer, but I know the Holy Spirit does.