We still are not declaring the glory of God though we take over the whole welfare program of the state if it is not God, the gracious, merciful, loving God, making His approach through us and doing His works of love by us. It isn’t just any kind of love that we show, like love to self by which we help others in order to help ourselves, contribute to community chest funds in order to cut down on what we would pay in taxes. It is the love of God, and His love is in Christ, and His love is for sinners, so that if our welfare has nothing of this in its picture, it is truly something that can be administered just as well out of Washington as out of 210 North Broadway*. We are the church, and ours can never be a general kind of philanthropy but always and only the love of God. This is really what First Corinthians 13 is all about, so that if we could get every one of our members to give everything that they have to feed the poor but this would not be God’s love
active in them and through them, it would profit them nothing. We often like to cite what our Lord gives us as something of a preview of the final Judgment, and well we might. If you don’t visit the sick, you don’t visit Christ; if you don’t go to the imprisoned, you don’t go to Christ; if you don’t feed the hungry, you don’t feed Christ; if you don’t clothe the naked, you don’t clothe Christ. For inasmuch as we do it not unto the least of Christ’s brethren, we don’t do it unto Him. But what does this mean? Does it mean that we toss these things around as one might toss around some water in the market place and call all on whom it fell the baptized? Again, if that were the case, then the state has supplanted the church, and social agencies will be received of Christ because they did what they did. But this is to be a doing unto the least of Christ’s brethren, which can mean nothing else than that our doing to men is doing to Christ’s brethren, deliberately and consciously recognizing them as such and therefore owning the claim that they have on us.
210 North Broadway, St. Louis Mo was the address of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synods Offices for years.