Three years ago I launched a mission with the intent purpose to save lives, not in the spiritual sense, but in the literal physical sense. Dead people cannot hear the gospel, can they? But a victim of a disaster who is grateful for saving their lives or the lives of their family, is fertile soil for witnessing your love and compassion to strangers and they might just want to ask what compels you to such sacrifice and action.
Category: Current Events
The thing about expectation is it is often not rooted in love, but in pride. I expect you to live a certain way or believe a certain thing or walk a particular road, not because I love you and it’s best for you, but because of the pride I have in my own heart that would be embarrassed if you took a certain path. After all, I influenced you and trained you to be a particular person, right?
In the past, I never wanted to be part of a house church. There’s nothing flashy about that. There’s no place in “America’s Fastest Growing Churches” magazine for my little house church. I’d see these large churches with massive buildings and thousands of attendees and thought, “man what a testament to God’s Spirit being poured out.” Until you get involved in larger churches and then realize that most of those people aren’t even followers of Jesus. That was the part that kept nagging at me. All the time and effort (and tons of finances) poured out to grow the gathering but not adding to the Church.
One of the struggles of living in the Christian world is the inability of many Christians to be flexible about their beliefs. This is due, in no small part, to the enlightenment, coupled with “modernity” and its belief or philosophy that we can know everything as humans. So science can tell us everything we need to know about the world or the Bible tells us everything we need to know about God. This was of course the response of mankind to the middle or the “dark” ages where only a few special people, whether they were kings or priests, held the keys to knowledge or spirituality.
A popular church word people throw out these days is the word “authenticity”. It speaks of those in the gathering being real and speaking their mind, but ironically in many of the churches who speak of this authenticity, no one actually speaks anything at all of their mind. Lights go out. Band plays. Cue Video. Pastor walks on to the stage, tells a cool story, combined with a quick Bible verse about love (makes us say “awww), forgiveness (makes us cry), or giving (makes us cringe). In the end, a few stick around to talk about the weather or sports, but most leave quickly because of the things they have to do in real life.
The times in our lives where we felt closest to being the New Testament Church were when we had a small group of people at our home. We broke bread, we prayed, we worshipped, we read God’s word together… we reached out and blessed others… we met each other’s needs. We were a church.
I tell this story because that experience reminded me of one essential, fundamental truth about Western religion, something I’ve tried to keep before me in the years since: Christians can often be the very least reason to consider Christianity.
The church often seems cram-packed full of disproportionately more broken, hypocritical, deceitful, loud-mouthed, ignorant, combative, hateful, and just plain ugly-minded people than one might encounter in almost any other sphere.
And this should come as no surprise. The church attracts the people that know they’re screwed up. People who think they have their crap together find little reason to turn to God. Thus, it might be considered a legitimate complaint for people to say of the church, “Why do I want any part in that? Those people are a mess.”
First of all, here is a brief explanation of mammon for those who don’t understand the term. Both in Matthew and Luke, the writers quote Jesus as using the phrase (in the KJV) when he said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Most modern translations replace the term for money. For instance the NIV says, “You cannot serve both God and money” and the NLT uses a slight variant when Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
Let’s start from the beginning. This Tennessee pastor from ASBC, an “independent, fundamental, King James Only, Soul-winning church” – where when you attend you shouldn’t “expect anything liberal, watered down, or contemporary” – preaches a message against homosexuality, and then Mr. (I’ll not call him pastor from here on out) Grayson Fritts loses his mind and calls for the arrest and execution of those in the LGBTQIA community.
One Sunday morning I sat on a red padded pew with bright stained glass all around me, and I worshipped. I worshipped when the horrible hymn droned on for every freaking verse. I worshipped when the children’s message focused on an age group that did not exist in the present group of people. I worshipped during the liturgical prayers that asked God to forgive the church corporately for their selfishness and pride. And I worshipped as the pastor spoke from the book of John on a passage I’d heard a million times before.