Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July 21, 2015 - along the Way ...

Over the past few weeks our local neighborhood has been terrorized by a handful of young men.   They have been tagging property, stealing things from inside cars, breaking and entering, and generally causing havoc.

Recently, three of the perpetrators were arrested and brought to justice through a partnership between a community member and our police department.   Since these young men have been brought to justice, there has been less terrorism in our community, which got me to thinking ... if a handful of young men can terrorize a neighborhood, what can a handful of people to do build up their community?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:14-16,
"You are the light of the world.
A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds,
and glorify your Father in heaven."

Jesus says, "You are the light of the world."  Elsewhere, He claims, "I am the light of the world ..." (John 8:12)  So Jesus, who is THE light of the world, says to us, "you are THE light of the world."
Since we are the body of Christ now on earth, our calling is to be like Jesus bringing light to dark places.  As we do, Jesus tells us people will see what we do, and in turn they will glorify God, our Father.

Therefore, if a handful of Christ followers, and those who agree to partner with us, can bring light, doing good deeds, encouraging people, helping those in need, and working with young people to show them a better path, we can make a huge difference and make our community flourish.  

So what about you?  Are you willing to shine your light, and do some good deeds?
If so, we can make a real difference in our neighborhoods and communities as we journey together ... along the Way!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

July 7, 2015 - along the Way ...

It has been a few weeks since I have written.  I have been on vacation the past two weeks, and have been doing some deep thinking about the church's call today.

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex unions under the authority of the federal government, I think we have transitioned to a time where the church needs to be willing to listen before we speak.  But what do I mean by that?

First, we must listen to God.   We must listen to His word and His Spirit as He directs us on the paths we should follow, and the approaches we ought to take in bringing Jesus to people.  

Let us consider Moses' words to God's people in Deuteronomy 8, "And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."  (Deuteronomy 8:3)   Jesus later picks up on these words and repeats, "Man does not live by bread alone" (Luke 4:4).   So it seems there needs to be a hunger for God's word before we recognize our need for it.

In a society where people want to speak up and be heard, it is important that we take time to listen to God's word, trust Him and not lean so heavily on our own understanding.   This is true for those opposed to same-sex civil unions (which are being erroneously called "marriage" because marriage is not domain of the government but under God's - see Genesis 2:24 and Mark 10:5-9), as well as those who promote an alternative to God's plan for marriage.   We must hunger for God's word, listen to Him, trust His word, and then do as He says.

Second, we must listen to one another.   Respectful dialogue (one where we seek first to truly understand one another's viewpoint before jumping to conclusions or fighting to have the last word) is the way toward understanding and potentially can be the way toward peace, healing, reconciliation, and ultimately renewal in Christ.   Respectful dialogue waits to be asked for one's thoughts and ideas before sharing them.  If not asked, we should not assume the right to share.

The church has moved from a time where we need to speak to a time where we need to listen before we speak.  Many people have heard our arguments, many people have grown up hearing sermons and even reading the scriptures.   People have also received education and have been exposed to alternative viewpoints.  We live in an age of information overload.  

For example, think of today's information overload like whitewater.   Like the roar of rushing waters we find it difficult to speak over the tumult.  We can scream louder and louder, but the sound gets swallowed up by the torrent around us.

In this time of information overload, I believe the church needs to take a step back, listen, and wait for God to give us the opportunity to speak.  God will wait for people to hunger and thirst for righteousness once again, and then He will give us the opportunity to speak.

We don't need to repackage the truth in line with people's tastes, any more than we need to stand back and hurl condemnation on the world from the safety of our theological fortresses.   We need to engage people in respectful dialogue demonstrating love and care for them, rather than our need to be right.

I believe the world is starving for God's word.  They desperately need it, but they are not yet aware of their need.  Too many are feasting on other ideas like a child who prefers junk food to good, solid nutrition.  Ultimately, the world will realize they need real food, and then they may ask us to share our thoughts and beliefs as we continue to journey together ... in respectful dialogue and committed relationships ... along the Way ...