Posts Tagged With: church

The Sky Isn’t Falling: It Already Fell

(I used the rainbow, because it belongs to God and reminds us of how faithful God is.)

rainbow crossOver 20+ years ago the chief editor from Christianity Today, Thomas Oden, spoke to my seminary prophetically about post-modernity.   We joked around with that word wondering what it meant. 5 years later I heard it again in relationship to the post Christian nation of the United States of America.   This time I knew what the word meant and the context of this prophetic voice.   I think we all knew the Supreme Court was going to re-define marriage, the more important fact is Christendom (Christian-Judeo worldview, morals, and faith) is fallen and no longer mainstream in the United States and maybe even the world.   Christians and Christian influence are now on the fridge even to the point of outcast.   The 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling should have woken us up that we are no longer living in a culture that is going to hold to Christian values and morals. June 25th, 2015 the Supreme Court re-defined marriage to simply two persons. If you are not awake yet on the fact that we live in a post Christian world then I’m not sure what will wake you up from your slumber.

For those of you awake and willing to read on forget about the terminology and listen to the substance.   The nation we live in has turned away from our values as Christians even to the point of being hostile toward us; calling us intolerant and bigots.   The Bible no longer is authoritative as it once was in our nation. Historically this moment in time is a watershed event.   Already the anti-church proponents are lining up in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling to take away the charity tax status of churches (503c tax deductible).   This would make our property and contributions as a church taxable and personal contributions non-tax deductible.   Think about that for a moment in terms of church budgets.   I’m not trying to be an alarmist or even prophetic. I would like to make 4 points.

  1. The Supreme Court ruling is not the end of the world for us who follow Jesus. The early church flourished and prospered in the hostile Greco-Roman world and under the persecution of the Jews.   Being on the fringe as outcasts is where historically the Gospel has boomed.   The church in China is a contemporary example as it prospers underground with suffering and persecution as a reality.   Our reality is full of promise and hope as well as suffering and persecution for following the One who conquered sin and death. The sky is not falling; it has already fallen and we have been living as if our nation was still Christian. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5 that he was not concerned about the morals and activities outside of the church, it was expected that the culture and government would be in rebellion against God. The Gospel has never been a political movement and it surely has never been snuffed out by any governmental actions.
  2. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We will all face the Lord God Almighty, the One whom angels encircle and constantly sing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”   Without a shadow of a doubt we will all know there is no hope for us in His presence except for the love and grace found in Jesus who died for our sins and conquers death.   This is not a time for us shine in pharisaical hypocrisy, but rather an opportunity in humility to extend our hands in love and hospitality.   Let your words and actions be grace-filled rather than stern. Speak Truth in love with authentic concern for those who are lost and a part from Jesus. Guard what you post on social media, say in the public square, and how you influence your children.   The Gospel is about love, grace, and the truth.
  3. Forget about comfort if you are living your faith.   Comfort and prosperity have never been the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   The church has been comfortable too long and now we are soft.   Know your Bible a whole lot better than we know it today.   Risk more (ALL) for the One who gave us His all on the cross.   Our mission is not to change politics, but rather to introduce people to Jesus who can change heart, spirit, and soul eternally. Our calling is to the Gospel of Jesus Christ not to the Constitution of the USA. Having said that the Gospel will make an impact on our communities, our nation and God’s world!   It’s time to be brave for Scripture tells us we are more than conquers through Him who loves us!
  4. The Gospel is life giving and changes our eternal outcome.   The Gospel is not primarily about morals and life choices.   Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection changed far more than our political party, our morality, and our choices in music and movies. The Gospel is about God who loves beyond our rebellion and sinfulness. The Gospel is about God who redeems, reconciles, and reclaims us as His children through the grace of Jesus His Son.   The Gospel changes our loyalties from the world to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.   The gospel positions us to love and forgive amidst a hostile world.   Therefore love God with all your heart, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

I am truly grieved by the ruling of the Supreme Court on marriage. It knots up my stomach and raises my blood pressure. As an American I want to cry out FOUL!, because marriage is not even a federal matter, but as a Christian I cry out, “have mercy on us Lord Jesus and come quickly!”   Brothers and sisters in Christ the sky is not falling.   The sky fell long ago, but God who is rich in love and mercy sent His Son to redeem, reconcile, and reclaim us by grace!

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Craving for Real Community

I’m thinking of John chapter 8, the women caught in adultery and thrown at the feet of Jesus for a decision of execution.   I’m also thinking of a friend I haven’t seen in a while. His name is Gerald and he has cerebral palsy.   I’ve known him now for 20 years although I’ve only seen him once or twice in the past 5 years.   I met him at a camp for children with disabilities when he was 10 years old.   For the past 20 years I have taken youth to this camp on a mission trip.

Gerald is a cute and loveable guy.   He is smart. He is a ladies man in his own naïve way. He laughs and teases in joyous ways.   He is contagious in his love.   Gerald once taught me more about Jesus in a few words as we gazed upon a cross in the room than a whole seminary class.   Gerald also drools. If you are around him for any time, you will discover that his drool gets on everything including you.

One of my rules for my youth kids going on this mission trip is that the response of “oooooooo Yuck Gross Nasty!” in any dialect, form, expression, or language is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Drool and sometimes worse is expected on this mission trip and needs to be dealt with with soap and water or hand sanitizer not words or any kind of emotional response.

So I’m thinking about John 8, my friend Gerald and his drool, and now James 5:16 (which says, “confession your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”). I have seen people cringe and say, “gross, yuck, nasty” when hearing about the sins of another. In John 8 Jesus didn’t shutter at the women’s capital offense of adultery as she lay there naked in front of him.   We will never find true Christian community in the confession of sin as James 5:16 commands with the judging, “gross, yuck, and nasty” of those we are trusting with our deepest secrets.   We will never have a friendship with those who are different that us.

I crave for a community where my sins are not met with judgment, but compassion, a community that will not tolerate or justify my sins, but walk with me to overcome them, and a community that loves me enough that I can trust them with my heart no matter how dark the furthest corners are.   I want to be in a community that takes serious the holiness of God, the atoning and reconciling blood of Jesus, and the fellowship of the Spirit.   I want to be fully loved, drool and all.   Don’t you want that kind of community?

Hey church! we are created to be that community!

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