To Luther, faithfulness is not the outworking of faith. Far from removing us from the ambiguities and complexities of life, faithfulness propels the baptized into them. One becomes a theologian of the cross not by speculation about life, but by living and dying in engagement with the gritty realities of the world. It is precisely in this engagement that the promise, the presence, and the power of the resurrection become most clear.
The faithful go where Jesus went before them, seeing those among whom they serve as beloved of God and worthy of hope. On their journeys, the faithful confront and challenge systems and institutions that hurt the many for the sake of the few, as Jesus did before them. Faithfulness under the cross is an adventure, not a sure and certain plan.
Luther came to reject the theology of glory and turned instead to what he termed theology of the cross. Rather than beginning with me and what I must do, the theology of the cross begins with: God’s faithfulness to all creation and God’s humbling of all human initiative before the cross. I do not accept Jesus as my personal Savior. Rather, in faith I risk trusting that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has already accepted me. I did nothing, and can do nothing, to merit God’s faithfulness to me. It is all a gift, free and undeserved.
Today we observe Maundy Thursday. This message was adapted from “Faithfulness Under the Cross” written by Gwen Sayler that first appeared in the March 2006 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.