Monthly Archives: February 2014

Churchill Church

In November of 1947 Winston Churchill said in an address to Parliament:

“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Churchill. We might recast his of-quoted lines to apply to Christianity and the church:

Many forms of church have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that church is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that church is the worst form of religion  except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

I like it. And it fits so well. The church is a many-flawed institution, even at its best. I stand with those who lament their having been hurt deeply by churches and church members. I have too. Let me tell you. (Actually, I won’t tell you. But you get my point). I understand why in our day some — many? — have left the church behind but still seek to follow Christ.

But I don’t think it works quite that way. To follow Christ is a team sport, not an individual one. In the New Testament accounts of Christ calling people, it almost never happens to someone who is alone. Even Saul of Tarsus was traveling with a group and needed the grace and help of the anxious Ananias (Acts 9:1-19) to begin his journey aright.

As a pastor you would expect me to argue for the necessity of the church. My credentials for ministry come from the church. And the church provides me with a comfortable living. I grew up in the church so my perspective, even darkened by painful experience, prejudices me in favor of the church.

But as someone seeking to follow Christ more fully and faithfully I cannot see how I can do it alone. No book can replace a whispered word of encouragement from a church member. Being touched by an online post (as marvelous as online community can be) is not the same as someone holding my hand in prayer and love. The most sublime experience of this committed introvert pales in the light of heart-felt and Spirit-filled worship.

House church or mega church or chapel down a country lane. Contemporary worship or traditional praise. Methodist, Catholic, nondenominational, Baptist (and every other human label).

I need the church… you need the church..we need the church together.

 

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The Way

I have been reading the devotional book The Way written by the great Methodist evangelist and missionary E. Stanley Jones. As I posted to my Facebook page this morning, the devotion for today (February 12) begins thus —

The Way is not merely written in the Book; it is written in us and in our relationships. I predict that this will become the most thrilling, exciting, rewarding adventure in the days to come. Science, philosophy, education, economics, business, politics, sociology—all branches of human approach to life—are poised to converge upon one thing: the discovery of the Way.

In Acts 9:2 we hear about Saul (who becomes Paul) heading to Damascus to arrest those who belong to “the Way.” Interestingly the only the place in Acts where this designation occurs. It is the phrase that Jones adopts as the title of his book.

The Way – a path, a journey, a road to follow. Our faith is not a destination, an end. It is a process. A journey. A path from where we are to where God wants us to be. More accurately a journey from where we are to God. It is no coincidence that Jesus tells his disciples “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

Not a new thought for me but one that fits well with where my thoughts have run lately. What if we re-imagined our faith as being on the Way.  As followers not of an intellectual abstraction that we call faith but rather of a way of living and of life.

Something to think about  for me… perhaps you, too.

 

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Answering the Questions No One is Asking

Tuesday evening a debate was broadcast between two men, one arguing for the “creationist” position and the other for “evolution.” The debate was live streamed here — http://debatelive.org/I didn’t watch it. But both my Facebook and Twitter were alight with posts, quotes, and reactions. I didn’t watch the debate because I am not sure that the debate was answering questions that anyone is really asking. In the words of the excellent piece at What We Learned From the Ken Ham/Bill Nye Debate “The public is ready to move on.”

I think that most people – except partisans in the battle between the two extreme viewpoints represented by the debate – don’t really care. They — we — certainly have questions about the Big Things. Where do we come from? What is life? What is the ultimate fate of humanity? Of our world?

But I think people are asking more significant questions. Where did  come from? What is the meaning of my life? What is my fate / my purpose/ my goal/ my end?

People want to live. They want to bring meaning to their existence. They want to know why things happen to them. They want to know how to experience a better life. They want joy, love, abundance.

As the post from Relevant above ends “… there’s a lot more value in Christians loving their neighbors, whatever their beliefs about life’s origins.” 

They want to see a life that is better, a life that is meaningful, a life that is abundant. We who follow Christ know where to find that. We need to show them it is true by tou transformed lives – not by proving one story of our origins (I include both creationism and evolution here). The proof that matters is in our lives.

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