Saturday, March 15, 2014

Statues to Being

From Statues to Being

"This world is a great sculptor's shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going around the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life."
~ C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity 
What are we before we receive Christ into our hearts? What is our life for and what is the meaning of our actions? The picture of a statue coming to life struck a chord with me. I know many well intentioned people; people who give themselves for the benefit of others, yet they do not have Christ in their heart. Jesus is not their reason for benevolence. 
Action, any action, apart from God is meaningless. This goes against popular opinion and even my own initial inclination. If someone gives a family in need $100, isn't that action good with or without Jesus. On the surface all signs point towards YES. But what is the intent? Who is glorified? What is the bigger picture?
God exists and there is an afterlife. This is not an apologetic piece, so there is no need to examine that statement. With this in mind, there is a bigger purpose to helping people. We are here on this earth for a moment. When you compare seventy years to eternity, seventy years loses its apparent endless duration. As we move from day to day, it is easy to get caught up in the present. Not only the present, but we almost solely focus on our time here on earth, whether past, present, or future. So while we have this limited frame of mind, we help people within this mindset. We give to the needy, help a stranded traveler, or even rescue people from harmful situations. And while, in each case their lives were changed for the better, if there is no eternal impact than what is it for? We must have eternity in mind as we go about loving people. 
There was a conversation I had with a close friend regarding this topic. We were discussing the need to help with rescuing sex trafficked children. As we discussed this topic an issue came to the forefront of our conversation; what comes after the rescuing? Do they become part of a foster system, do they find a loving family, can they accept that new family? Along with these questions, once they are rescued there needs to be something even more than love from a family and a better situation in life. Their life on this earth is undoubtedly better. No one can question that. I would not suggest rejecting help for these children just because the overall goal isn't injecting Christ into the situation, the children do not deserve that life. What I am suggesting though, is that without Christ their life would only be better while they are still living here on earth, but then what?
Everything must be done for the glory of God. It has to be this way because He is the reason for our vey existence. Give to the needy, but let them know you give because God enables you to do so. Help a stranded traveler, but make it known you help because Jesus modeled that for you. Rescue someone from a harmful situation, but tell him that you were once in a harmful situation as well, and a man named Jesus Christ rescued you. Especially when it comes to helping people, there will always be an opportunity to mention Jesus, the reason for such help. 
Before Christ we were just statues, helping others for the sake of humanity; creating other statues. This network of statues desires something more than earthly ease. It longs for something more, something beyond. Hollow philanthropy is appealing, it causes great happiness without the uneasiness of Christianity. One can do good and be done. The receiver can be helped and be done. And one day each life will conclude and then, maybe surprisingly for some, there will be more. The one who blesses and the one who is blessed will continue to live on, forever. But where they continue to reside does not depend on the "quality" of life lived, it depends on what is inside, rather who is inside. 
Do, but do for the sake of Christ. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

His Word Has Power

John 4:46-54 "Healing of the Officials Son"

Who do we look to in moments of despair? Although, the question may be what and not who.

In this passage of Scripture we find a man who is about to lose his son. He is a nobleman and has undoubtedly exhausted all of his resources in order to save his son. As his son lay dying, not even his high social stature and wealth could cure the boy. He then decides to leave his son in Capernaum and travel to Cana, because he has been informed that Jesus is staying there. For some perspective, the distance this man had to travel would have been about 20 miles.

Would I leave my child lying on his deathbed to search out a supposed healer of whom I am not yet convinced? That takes faith.

While it had to be hard leaving his son, he was desperate and at his wits end. He finds Jesus in Cana and begs Him to heal his son. Jesus responds rather oddly, stating that "Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe." But are all believers given a sign? No.

1 Corinthians 1:22 talks about how some demand signs and some look for wisdom, but the message we preach is Christ crucified. It is not about what Jesus can do for us, although he can and does perform miracles. It should be about what we can do for Jesus. He has already laid down his life for us and given us his Spirit. Now, we must take him at his word.

The nobleman does just that. When Jesus instructs him to go, for his son has been healed, the man left and "took Jesus at his word." At that very instant, the man later finds out from his servant, his son was healed. At 7pm Jesus declared his son healed, and at 7pm his son was healed. It was at that moment "he and all his household believed."

In this man's lowest place he turned to Jesus. It took great faith for him to seek Jesus and to also take him at his word. I believe I would have pressed Jesus to physically meet my son and perform this miracle. But Jesus supersedes space and time (Jn 2). May we not wait until we are down and out to seek Jesus. He will be there to catch us when we are low, but we must also pursue him when we are at our very best as well.

Take him at his word: John 14:5-6 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Church Plant

When I first decided to join a new church plant in Lake in the Hills, IL, I was beyond excited to see what God was going to do through my family in order to reach people in that area. But when I started talking to people about what I was going to do after college, many people responded with "Do we really need another church in the United States?" My answer, "Yes."

I am aware that there are many churches in the United States, but somehow not everyone is being reached. Therefore, if there is a certain demographic of the population that is not being sought after, it is our job to "go out and make disciples of all nations."  Lake in the Hills is an extremely young area, with a median age of about 30 years old. According to church statistics, only about 30% of people around that age attend church.

Also, there is a new idea of thought that has become prevalent in today's society. Words such as "Coexist" and "Tolerance" appear everywhere. Being exclusive is definitely not trendy. An interesting article was written by Jonathan Parnell regarding this subject. He differentiates the ideologies of Old and New Tolerance. Old Tolerance can be summed up by "accept[ing] the existence of different views." New Tolerance can be summed up by "accept different views." As a Christian, I accept that people have different views than I have. I share my faith, try to do good unto others, and strive to selflessly serve people.

Many people around my age feel that Christianity is too exclusive and that there is no definite right or wrong. And I, too, felt this way for quite a while. All-inclusive was an easy philosophy for me to accept. But New Tolerance is less than tolerant regarding Old Tolerance. Parnell states, "'new tolerance' has a right and wrong, too, it's just that what's wrong is to say there's such a thing as right and wrong."

In the end, people need to hear about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The church needs to keep in mind that loving is God's number one commandment. We are to love God, and we are to love people. This love for people is not based on whether or not they believe the same things as us. Many people do not. But we are Jesus' "witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

America needs more churches.