Christianity


Kurt Vonnegut starts his story “Harrison Bergeron” with these words:

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

The story goes on to tell how life is perfectly equal in 2081, but the reader gets the sense that, though it is equal, it may not be fair or just. Justice doesn’t mean that everyone is exactly alike, but it means that everyone has an opportunity to survive and to thrive.

When we act in justice to those around us, righteousness is both defended and advanced. When injustice runs rampant, people lose hope and dignity.

God has asked us (as His people) to deal justly, or rightly, with the world around us. That means when we see the injustice of the weak being usurped by the strong, we stand up. It means that when we hear of those less fortunate than ourselves, we readily give something of ourselves to make their life a little more just. Crime happens when justice is ignored. Right happens when we follow the justice of the Lord.

Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. —Matthew 7:1-2

Usually, teachers ask students to write a “What I Did Last Summer” essay at the beginning of the new school year. Well, here we are at the end of another school year and we have the whole summer laying before us. Let’s start our essay for next fall: “What will I do this summer?”

Here are some suggestions that might be helpful:

  • I will attend church regularly, just like I do the rest of the year.
  • When I take my family vacation, I will find time to worship God, especially if we’re gone over a weekend.
  • I will participate in some kind of mission activity (like Mission Spectacular in Chicago or St. Louis on June 3).
  • I will help with Vacation Bible School.
  • I will bring a friend to church with me.
  • I will get plenty of rest because I know that it is healthy.
  • I will get plenty of exercise because my body needs it.
  • I will find ways to be Christ-like to my friends, family, and neighbors.
  • I will attend (or sponsor) a summer camp for children.
  • I will actively look for a mission trip to grow in my faith.
  • I will start working in one of the on-going ministry efforts of my local church.

Fill your summer with wonderful things to do now and tell about later. Make this the best “What I Did Last Summer” essay you’ve ever written.

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”  —Psalm 86:12

My son is easily distracted. He is distracted when eating—by everything on the table, everyone in the room, and every sound that happens within earshot. Even more, he is a distracted walker. I often find myself holding more tightly to his hand and reminding him to watch where he is going when a school bus, or a friend, or a stranger happens by. More often than not he is looking to the side or behind him instead of paying attention with his eyes on his destination. The big problem with not looking where one is going is that it may cause the person in motion to run into another person, or perhaps a tree or pole that is in the path, or even step into a hole or obstacle that is in the way perhaps even suffering injury because of inattention.

Driving is also an example of the need to look ahead. Looking away from the road—to read, text, do your makeup, (you fill in the blank)—for even one second can have tragic results. So much disaster has been caused by distracted driving prompting many states to create motor vehicle laws to cover it—some general mentioning the sweeping category of “distracted driving”; while others are specifically dealing with our nation’s addiction to handheld electronic devices that we just can’t seem to put down.

Living the Christian life is just so. There are numerous things to distract the believer, a whole mountain of events, people, and places to get us off-track. Even so, it is important for the follower of Christ to, well, follow Christ. In order to do this we must face forward, pay attention to our Leader, and watch where we are going.

“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”  —Paul, Philippians 3:13b-14

Something there is that is intimate about a walk. Especially if that walk is with someone meaningful. Early in the last century, if a young man and woman were beginning to see one another exclusively with the eye to possible matrimony, they might say to their friends that they were “walking out” with that special someone. From time to time, when a person wanted to discuss something without the prying ears of an audience present they might ask the friend to “take a walk with me.”

When you take a walk with a person, there is a certain level of privacy achieved even though you may be in the great outdoors. Conversations can be deep and meaningful in which the participants can truly get to know one another. We can learn each other’s thoughts, emotions, and heartbeats. In the case of young sweethearts, there is the opportunity to walk hand in hand and truly feel the presence of the other. In the case of close friends, there is the opportunity to grow closer and even participate in private, unhindered conversation.

This is what it is to walk with Jesus; to sense His presence as we pass through life, to converse with Him in the heartfelt conversation of prayer. This is the desire of the heart of every person: to walk with the Maker, conversing and communing with Him at the most intimate of levels. It was for this kind of walk that we are created. It is toward this kind of relationship that we are constantly running. It is only in this kind of relationship with Jesus that we can find completeness.

Set aside some time to walk with Jesus this week. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. Let His presence in your daily routine refresh you, mind and spirit. It is what you seek. It is what He desires.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze”  —Genesis 3:8a

In 2013, Thom Rainer (President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources) released a little book to help churches called I Am a Church Member in which he suggested 6 pledges members could make that would help them and their church to grow. I think that perhaps an appropriate substitute title for the book might be I Am a Disciple of Christ; after all, one would hope that if someone were a member of a church they would first of all be a follower (or disciple) of Christ.

This poses for us the question: just what is a disciple of Christ? A disciple, by definition is a person who follows (as closely as possible) the teachings of a particular leader. Often these followers take on not only the characteristics of the leader, but adopt their name as a label as well. Thus, followers of Christ who are truly disciples have through the ages been known as Christians.

So, what do Disciples look like today? They are committed to Christ-likeness: caring for the poor and needy, loving toward those who may be different from themselves, encouraging in their interaction with other Christ-followers, practicers of integrity at home and in public, and (probably most of all) forgiving of others when wrong has been perpetrated.

If you want to become a better church member, read Rainer’s book and apply the principles encased in the pledge. If you want to be a better Christian, read the Scripture and follow the example given by the Savior.

“And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”  —Acts 11:26b

Revival. There is a word that is used in a variety of ways today. It is most often heard in church circles, and we take it to mean the extended meetings the church holds for about a week leaning heavily toward evangelism. That’s what we are advertising for this week—Spring Revival. In this case the meetings will consist of five services (Sunday morning and evening, then each evening Monday through Wednesday). But at its core, the word “revival” really means a “bringing back to life,” or “coming back to life.”

With this in mind, our special event will be geared toward a couple of ends: renewal of commitment for believers, and reaching out to others with the message of life found in Jesus Christ. Our theme this week is “I Know the Answer” and so we want to focus this week on making sure that everyone at least has the opportunity to find the answer in Jesus Christ. I personally would like to see the revival begin in the hearts and lives of those who already know the answer. My prayer is that my own tired heart will be revived with a renewed passion for Christ. And as a result of the renewed vigor for the answer in Jesus, we want to focus on sharing that answer with people who have not met Jesus yet.

This revival; this coming back to life will then be seen in the renewal of Christians and the re-birth of others who will now have life in Christ. “Lord, send a revival; Lord, send a revival; Lord, send a revival; and let it begin in me.” (Hymn by B.B. McKinney, 1927)

You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”  —Jesus, recorded in John 8:32

From time to time I will hear someone say, “It’s all good.” In my observation, the person quoting this euphemism has just experienced something that either didn’t go as planned, turned out badly, or disappointed in some significant way. In which case, the meaning of the quip is: I’ll cope, we can get through this, or at least nobody was hurt badly.

The truth that Christ-followers can hold onto though is that even when it’s not all good, goodness can still prevail. And that happens because of Christ and His influence in life. No longer does the believer have to put on a brave face in the midst of a crisis, or “buck up and take it like a man.” We will weather storms; we will encounter some situations which can never fall into the “good” category. At the end of the day there is an assurance that, whether the good comes, or the bad, Christ makes of it all a beauty that is really good—and not just a platitude.

 “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” Psalm 73:1

Next Page »