A quote from The Martin Luther Christmas Book, trans. Roland Bainton, “…and we who hear this message, ‘Behold I bring you good tidings,’ never feel one spark of joy. I hate myself because when I see him laid in the manger, in the lap of his mother, and hear the angels sing, my heart does not leap into flame. “With what good reason should we all despise ourselves that we remain so cold when this word is spoken to us over which all [persons] should dance and leap and burn for joy! We act as though, it were a frigid, historical fact that does not smite our hearts…”
Almost everything I see Lutherans writing about and the things my colleague pastors want to speak about is how the Bible message lands in our thoughts, as if the important thing is to be intellectually convincing. The thinking seems to be, if we are intellectually convincing it will lead to just action and good behavior.
Martin Luther lamented his cold heart, the way he remained untouched by what should have moved him to his core. This place — the heart — the core — is where the battle of indifference is fought. Not on the field of the intellect. Intellectual curiosity and the battles fought on the field of intellect deal in “frigid historical facts”. They have a place, but need to be kept there. Otherwise they are a fatal distraction. They do little more than mistake indignation for an answer to indifference. But they do not make the heart warm to God’s Word or to our neighbor. How horrible if, instead, they functioned like fingers in our ears, singing, “Lalalalala, I cannot hear you” while God tries to penetrate our hearts and form Christ in us with the Good News?