Concordia Seminary Newsroom
Sharing the Gospel—Sharing Our Lives
by Dr. Ronald Mudge
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis’ 2022-23 academic year theme is “Sharing the Gospel—Sharing Our Lives,” based on 1 Thess. 2:8. This theme highlights beautifully the way that the grace of Jesus Christ permeates our life together. Jesus gives us His grace as a gift and makes it possible for us as forgiven sinners to love and to serve one another, sharing our very lives with each other.
We often find ourselves wanting to share our lives with others and to have others share their lives with us but at the same time, because we are sinful human beings, we fear that others might mock, criticize or reject us if they knew what we are really like. Some respond to this situation by pretending to be someone else. They engage in a false sharing that leaves them feeling isolated, lonely and exhausted as they try to be someone they are not. Others respond to their loneliness with anger, becoming bitter toward other people and sometimes even lashing out at them.
As Christians, however, Jesus sets us free to share our true selves with others and to receive the grace that helps us to welcome others into our lives. We confess our sins to Christ, receive His forgiveness and ask the Holy Spirit to transform us so that we love and serve others as Jesus wants us to do. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we share the Gospel as we share our lives. We forgive each other, treasure each other and spur each other on to works of service.
As the chapel is at the center of our physical campus at Concordia Seminary, it is also at the center of our life together. We meet in a chapel that is in the shape of a cross, which reminds us by its very architecture that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. We walk past the baptismal font as we head into the sanctuary, and we are reminded that we have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. We meet together and receive the gifts of Jesus Christ together. And the grace of Jesus Christ is with us as we share our lives with each other and as we step out into the wide world.
In our classes, we develop our knowledge, skills and attitudes, and we share the Gospel and our very lives with each other. We help each other to learn, applying the sum of our knowledge and discipline to help all of us to develop good skills and habits. In our formation labs, we share our lives in a more active and deliberate way. Students from different backgrounds and with different personalities talk about pastoral and personal issues, develop strong relationships with each other and pray with and for each other. When we disagree, we talk through our disagreements with honesty, respect and grace.
At Concordia Seminary, we work hard, and we play hard — together. We learn, grow, sweat and laugh through intramural and varsity sports. Our monthly Prof ’n Stein gatherings give us the opportunity to enjoy fellowship, food and drink as a professor holds forth on a topic that is both humorous and edifying. Our Friday night BBQs and our all-campus events like Octoberfest, Jambalaya Fest and Springfest create more opportunities for us to share our lives and to live and speak the Gospel of Jesus Christ to each other. A number of our professors and many of our students live on campus, and those who do not live on campus still spend a lot of time here. Professors host formation-lab groups on their patios and regularly welcome students and other professors into their homes. My family lives on campus, and my wife, Lisa, our children and I all appreciate being able to walk for a few minutes and be with others from the community or to take part in chapel or some other on-campus activity.
As we share the Gospel and ourselves, we live this Christian life together. We celebrate births and birthdays. We give gifts and offer meals during times of need. We rejoice together and mourn together. In times of sadness, we console each other. Our community welcomes newcomers and encourages those who have completed their studies and are heading off to calls or other adventures. The Mudge family moved to campus last summer and experienced firsthand how welcoming the Concordia Seminary community can be and how much it helps with the emotions and disruptions brought about by a family move.
At Concordia Seminary, we know that we are a community within larger communities. Our students and our graduates span the globe. Our Orientation week and summer intensive courses give us special joy because our distance program students get to be together in person with our residential students. We are part of God’s church on earth, and the Lord uses our chapel services to remind us that we are part of the universal church that spans all time.
The Lord sends our students, vicars, interns and graduates out into the world and all over the world. The Concordia Seminary community includes people from many of the nations, tribes, peoples and languages of the world, and we are striving to love, to serve and to speak the Gospel to people of all nations, tribes, peoples and languages. As our students learn and share their lives, the Lord prepares them to serve Him in the world and sends them out to do exactly that. During Orientation week, our students engage in servant events in and around St. Louis. Field education, modules, vicarages and internships give our students opportunities to share the Gospel and themselves. For example, some of our students help Christian Friends of New Americans welcome immigrants and refugees to St. Louis and speak the Gospel to them. As another example, one of our deaconess interns lives and speaks the love of Christ to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Concordia Seminary graduates serve as pastors, deaconesses and missionaries; as hospital, prison and military chaplains; and in a variety of other ways. Wherever we go, we share the Gospel and we share our lives. We form and join communities that are permeated by the grace of Jesus Christ. When we do this, we are doing what we were taught to do and living the way we lived at Concordia Seminary. The Lord uses these communities to welcome everyone and to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen. Our graduates also meet people who are lost, broken and bitter and point them to Jesus Christ. Our graduates listen, care, help and love. They describe the gifts that Jesus has given to them and urge others to receive the forgiveness and grace of Jesus. They urge others to receive the Gospel, to share the Gospel and to share their lives.
As graduates of Concordia Seminary serve throughout the world and join various congregations and communities, they never entirely separate themselves from the community of Concordia Seminary. Our community is patient and tough. We do the work necessary to keep sharing our lives even when we are far apart physically. We rejoice when the Lord puts us in the same area as someone we already know. We track each other down at conferences or when we are passing through town. We look for-ward to events like the LCMS Youth Gathering and LCMS district and national conventions in part be-cause these sorts of events give us the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and to catch up. And we look forward to eternity when we, in our resurrected bodies, will see Jesus face-to-face and experience all the joy and surprises that He has in store for us. Eternity with Christ will certainly be full of surprises, but it will certainly include sharing the Gospel and sharing our lives.
Dr. Ronald Mudge is provost and professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.