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people reminds us that Christ himself “ came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). In that light, “Christ alone” is not a claim to superiority but to service.


What might this kind of sharing look like in practice? In a world full of big ideas and competing powers, we can join Joshua in saying, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). When confronted with other sources of meaning in life, we can say with Paul, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). We can talk about what “Christ alone” means to us, even as we treat others with the same respect we would want to receive ourselves (Matthew 7:12).


Besides religious faith, what do we make of other kinds of knowledge, like the arts and sciences, business and public service? Bugenhagen’s statement about knowing Jesus doesn’t displace the importance of these other fields. It does, however, suggest that Christian faith reshapes what we know in helpful ways. For instance, knowing Jesus invites us to consider not only which technologies we use but how we use them. Knowing Christ means not wondering if we should care about our neighbors but how we are effectively serving those around us.


The Lutheran reformers knew that many things compete for our hearts. That is why they insisted upon “Christ alone” as the sole liberator and resting place for our lives. Their reforms of worship, church and society sought to keep the goodness and freedom of Christ central. In this way, “Christ alone” is a message of faith and freedom simple enough for children, yet deep enough for a lifetime of wisdom, growth and action.


Martin Lohrmann is assistant professor of Lutheran confessions and heritage at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, and author of Book of Harmony: Spirit and Service in the Lutheran Confessions.


VOICES OF FAITH • LIVINGLUTHERAN.ORG 45


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