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A life laid down By Frank G. Honeycutt


We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us— and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. —1 John 3:16


F


rancis Spufford, a teacher and writer, lives in the United Kingdom. He’s among the 6 percent of citi- zens there who still worship regularly on Sundays.


Te Church of England may trot out clergy and bishops for royal coronations, but the overwhelming majority across the pond largely ignores the church. In Spufford’s book Unapologetic (HarperOne 2014),


he mentions his daughter: “Sometime over the next year or so, she will discover that her parents are weird. We’re weird because we go to church.”


How weird are they? To contrast, in the United States


the equivalent figure of regular Sunday churchgoers is 26 percent of the population. But here’s what I find doubly interesting from


Spufford’s book: “Some surveys, tellingly, reveal that a further 16 percent of Americans claim to be regular churchgoers. From the British perspective this second statistic is even more startling and alien than the first one. Te idea of people pretending to be regular church- goers because it will make them look virtuous—or respectable, or serious, or community-minded—is com- pletely bizarre to us. Here in Britain, it is more likely that people would deny they went to church even if they actually did, on the grounds of embarrassment.” We are living in challenging times for the church. I once had lunch with an employee of the American


Bible Society. He told me of the society’s ministry and its translation work in many countries. Our conversa- tion turned toward Europe and England, in particu- lar. He had just toured many of the beautiful Gothic churches dotting the countryside, which were largely empty on Sundays. He said, “You know, Frank, this reality in Europe is coming your way in America. Not as quickly, but it’s coming.” What are we to do about such realities?


If the current trends continue, what will our congregations look like in 25, 50 or 100 years? Look closely at 1 John 3:16 sometime.


Two 3:16s probably come to mind. We tend to recall the more famous one from John’s Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” But 1 John 3:16 suggests that if this


amazing giſt really soaks in, our lives in return will resemble his: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us— and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” Tis echoes a phrase that says a Chris-


tian is a person who should be prepared to look good on wood—someone who’s willing to love in the shape of a cross.


28 www.thelutheran.org


KATHRYN BREWER


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