There are some church people who are a bit overeager when it comes to getting and keeping others on the straight and narrow. Church people forget sometimes that correction is best done in the context of relationship and should NEVER be attempted on church visitors or strangers. Period. It does not matter what the person is wearing or how many piercings or tattoos these folks happen to have. The only truly loving thing to do when someone shows up at church is to celebrate the fact that they are attempting to connect with God on some level. Their appearance (even if it’s inappropriate) should be irrelevant (Luke 15:15-31).
He began to make a case for minimizing the use of the Bible in preaching and evangelism. Mr. Stanley believes that rather than steering people towards what the Bible says about issues that we ought to simply point them to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and teach them to love others.
This is not about freedom in Christ or the right some post-modern Christians think they have to be uninhibited by any and all rules (1st Corinthians 6:20, 1st Corinthians 8:9, 2nd Timothy 2:5). This is about people who do not know Jesus and probably never will because too many Christians flatly refuse to control their baser urges. It pretty much goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway) that it is highly unlikely that even one of those little kids who were molested by their parish priests grew-up to become Christians.
From its inception the church was filled with men and women from every tribe, tongue, education level and social class imaginable (Acts 2:5-12, 1st Timothy 6:2, Galatians 3:28, James 2:1-4, 1st Corinthians 12:13, Revelation 7:9). The Church was intended from the very beginning to be a place where societal norms are challenged at every turn.
God designed the church to be a place where serving is favored over being served (Matthew 23:1), where the weak are every bit as cherished as the strong and where each person is working for the good of every other person. Church is where every follower of Jesus regardless of age, race, gender or social position is equal and equally loved by God (Galatians 3:28).
When I was a teenager I was inclined to see life in extremely simplistic, black and white terms (1st Corinthians 13:11). I believed that if people were poor or needy, the government should give them stuff, no questions asked. I also believed that if a person wanted to use drugs the government should provide clean needles for them to prevent the spread of disease. As the years passed I began to realize that every action has a consequence. I also figured out that my ideas were stupid and could actually make problems worse rather than better. I have since learned that problems (and their solutions) are rarely black and white and that the easy answer is seldom the right answer. It takes life experience to come to terms with that reality.
I think our generation has screwed-up prayer because we have lost touch with the purpose of prayer. Prayer is not about getting God to do the stuff we want or getting stuff from God. Prayer is about getting our purposes aligned with His and getting the spiritual power we need to do the stuff that really matters.
We are a deeply divided nation of dreadfully immature people. We are no longer capable of agreeing to disagree on the issues and behaving like adults. Over the course of the last week I have seen posts on social media that have left me stunned and disillusioned with the human race. There has been gloating on one side and inexcusably ugly vitriol on the other. Some are threatening to leave the country because their candidate didn’t win; others are literally setting things on fire and shutting down our cities.
We told our kids a hundred times a day that they were smarter, more special and better informed than any children in the history of forever. If they pooped we threw a party, complete with M&M’s and party hats. If they shared an opinion, we celebrated that opinion no matter how irrational or poorly thought-out it happened to be. We insisted every kid get a trophy and made certain no child ever felt less than AWESOME about his or her academic or athletic abilities, regardless of actual ability.
I get that it’s rewarding for a musician to have the opportunity to showcase his or her skills. If I possessed musical talent of any kind I would probably be inclined to showcase my skills too. However, long keyboard or guitar solos create nothing but awkwardness for the worshipers in attendance. It’s impossible to know what to do when it’s over. Does one clap or cheer, or simply smile appreciatively? It feels weird not to show some sort of appreciation for the musician but it feels even weirder to clap for anyone other than God during a worship service.