A Small Catechism on Human Life

Over the summer we’ve been considering Luther’s Small Catechism and how God’s Word teaches us how we should view “Human Life.” This catechism has life and eternal life as its main subject. And when we Christians contemplate life both here and in eternity, when we are contemplating faithfully we will always be led to Jesus who himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” Catechism may seem like a strange word and it is because it is a Greek word.

Catechism is a Greek word meaning teachings. Luke uses catechism in Luke 1:4: I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (catechism).

“The Small Catechism is a “life book,” to use the words of the German Lutheran bishop Ludwig Ihmels. It is a book about our life with God — a life created by the Father, redeemed by the Son and hallowed by the Spirit. This book that you now have in your hands is a companion to the Small Catechism. It seeks to let the Small Catechism speak about our life, the life of our Creator and His crucified Son in our dying world. We will use the Six Chief Parts of Christian Doctrine to engage questions about the beginning and ending of life, about marriage and family as places where God gives and guards life, and about our responsibility to show mercy in all stages of life. Drawn from God’s Word, the catechism provides a reliable and coherent framework for responding to issues of life and death, vocation and mercy, from the perspective of God’s Law and Gospel.”

We discussed from the scriptures topics such as, “What Gives Life Value?” When life seems disposable, from mass shootings to abortion and euthanasia, random killing and riots. Where does life get its value from? Is life valuable only as far as a person is “productive”? When we are no longer producing for our economy does life then become disposable?

I made the comparison to how only when we believe that life comes from a loving God can we truly value human life for what it is. Similar to how we may have some very old antiques in our homes that we value greatly. We may have some things that aren’t old but are very valuable to us because they were given to us by someone special. We value many things according to who made it or who owns it and then gives it to us. Even consider how a craft made in VBS by one of your
children is not valuable to the world but to a parent it is a priceless treasure. So too, we value life and life has value because it is given and sustained by God. God who gave his only Son so that we would be his possession.

We also reflected on how life is not just valuable but holy or set apart. God makes life holy by his mercy. None of us deserves forgiveness or the many blessings we have in life. However, God gives good things even to the wicked though they neither thank him nor recognize him as the giver. Our holiness before God is a pure gift. Our forgiveness, life and salvation are all gifts received by faith.

We also most recently discussed “What happens when death comes?” We had a very open and frank discussion about how Christians should prepare for death and how a Christian can die faithfully. We explored questions about donating one’s body to science. We began to ask ourselves, “If the medical community no longer has our best interests in mind in regards to faithfulness to God, how much should we trust them when death seems near?” Is “having no pain” the best way to leave this world and be born into heaven when the devil is making his best efforts to steal your faith?

All of the topics we discussed in Sunday School and will continue to discuss are all very important. We get to examine God’s words on topics we might not have opportunity to consider when we are faced with a high stress and emotionally charged situation. This is why Sunday School and speaking and visiting with other Christians is so important. God’s Holy Spirit gives us wisdom when we ask. We are then to help one another in considering how to be faithful according to God’s word and Spirit.

We will continue these next few weeks to discuss “Life topics” in Sunday School. I recommend you come. We always study God’s word and contemplate with each other. We may not always find a concrete answer for questions on this side of heaven but we will always see and hear of Jesus who promises to forgive us when we make bad decisions or have bad motivations and to help us in every time of need. “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.”

See you on Sunday!

In Christ,
Pastor Ottmers