Monthly Archives: January 2015

Why Do Churches Exist?

 

Why do church congregations exist?   What is their purpose?  What mission do they have?   Why do we need churches, anyway?  What vision do they need to share with the world around them?   These are questions that many Chrisitian congregations should be answering.   And they need to find those answers quickly, because, at present, most mainline congregations are only religious social clubs.   Congregations must be more than social clubs if they are to be relevant in today’s world.

I recently led a leadership group in  a local congregation in an evaluation of where they were as a church on the life cycle of institutions.    They decided, correctly I believe, that they were in what George Bullard called the maturity phase, as he defined  in his book,  Pursuing the Full Kingdom Potential of Your Congregation:    “Maturity is that period when Relationships, Programs and Management are dominant.   Vision is no longer dominant.   Management is controlling the direction of the congregation.   A congregation that is past it’s prime characterizes Maturity.   It is more passive than active.   It is still successful in many areas.   For the most part it has a positive spirit…..It is no longer focused.   It is no longer clear about its vision.  The success culture of the congregation keeps it moving forward .  It is blind to the fact that it no longer has an empowering vision that is fueling it forward. “

That lack of vision and mission became evident when I asked the leadership what the purpose or vision of their church was.   No one had an answer.   They are still struggling with why they exist as a church congregation!    While I suggested how to go about creating a vision for their church they have not  followed through with my suggestion and the congregation they lead  still has no clear vision of God’s purpose and mission God desires  for their congregation.  .   I gave them several examples to think about to get them started:   “To Be a Nurturing Church in a Hungry World”;  “To Live the Great Commandment in the Community Around Us”;   and the vision of the Saddleback Church as stated in Rick Warren’s “The Purposeful Church.” (With a Great Commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, God will Grow Our Church).A vision shared by the entire church should define the mission of the church.  The raison d’etre for their existence.   Without a vision of their mission a  congregation is just another social club.     I suggested that the leadership group  needed to form a small task force to do develop this vision of mission  with much prayer,  Bible Study, and discernment so as to arrive at a  vision and mission that all in their church congregation  could “buy into”.  As of yet, almost a year later,  none of this has happened and things go along the same way they have for some time—-downhill.

In my opinion, this is the reason for many of the mainline churches being on a downward spiral and increasingly  shrinking both in numbers and in their influence on their society.  That society is becoming  increasingly immoral or amoral, violent, greedy, not  compassionate with the needs  of the most vulnerable in our society,  polarized in politics, distrustful of government and each other.    These church congregations have forgotten that the one they are named after—Jesus the Christ—-gave them a mission which is to continue the mission Jesus began of sharing the good news of God’s adoption of humandkind as God’s children—as a part of what Jesus called “The Kingdom of God” .  That is the rule of God in people’s lives that  reflects the love and passion of God for all the world—-all the world.   Jesus saw good news in God sending him into the world to show what life lived in the Kingdom could be.  He didn’t just tell us about it, he lived it.  And life in the Kingdom of god is-pretty much the opposite of what the life of most people is now in the U.S.    We have a mission as a church to bring about the new way of living  that Jesus referred to as the Kingdom of God that was breaking into the world in Jesus’ time and is still here with us.   The Kingdom of God exists now—not later—-not after we die—Now—in this world!

It is not our mission as the church to sit on the sidelines, bemoaning the thin moral air in our society and the lack of morality, the violence,  the greed, the distrust, the polarity in politics, the lack of compassion for the vulnerable.  It is the mission of the church to step up to the plate and deliver a faith that gives stability,; to work with love and compassion to overcome the victimization of the most vulnerable;  to offer a way of peace to replace the violence that infects our society and world like a terminal disease;  to offer caring for others needs to replace the greed upon which our economy is now based;  to insist on compromise over polarization in our political arena.   The mission of the church is not to get along with the world as it is.   Not to be part of the present establishment governmentally,  politically or religiously; , but to point toward a better way—-the Way of Jesus that he demonstrated for us in the Gospels.  

We should never settle for the status quo—-the mission of the church is to transform lives, to change lives,  and in transforming  lives transform the society in which  we live our lives as church iby showing how that can be done using our lives as an example.

Let me illustrate with this story:

Edwina Gately is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania.   In their newsletter  she wrote about the following incident:

“I once worked in a downtown overnight shelter.   It was a big, basement shelter, and every night when the homeless came in, I would stand at the door handing out blankets.   Once this guy came up to me and said, “Edwina, could I have one without lice?”   “What?” I said.   “Could I have one that doesn’t have any lice on it?”   And I said, “Oh, er…okay,” and starting holding up the blankets to see if I could find one without lice.   “Here.  I’ve got one here.   This one’s got no lice.   There’s nothing moving on this one.”

And suddenly I thought to myself, “What am I doing?  Here I am picking out blankets without lice and urine for certain folks.   This is all wrong.”

So I went to the supervisor and said to him, “This is not right.   We should launder these blankets every day instead of every week.   We can’t do this to these folks.   They deserve better than this.”   The supervisor looked at me and smiled.   He shook his head and said,  “Edwina, let me tell you something.   When you have been here as long as I have, you get used to it.”

NOOO!  ..something in me screamed.  WE MUST NEVER GET USED TO IT.  WE MUST NEVER ACCEPT THE WAY THINGS ARE BECAUSE WE ARE TOLD, “Well, it’s always been like this.”    The world was not meant to be like this!!   We were not meant to live in poverty.   We were not meant to be hungry.   We were not meant to be homeless.   We were not meant to have to sleep in lice-infested blankets.   When we accept the system with “This is the Way it is” we become a part of that system.   We are part of the oppression, the injustice, the diminishment.”

The Church is meant to take action for change in many areas of our society that need to be improved.    Blessed are the Christians who never get used to it and continue to work for change!

 

 

Advertisements

Yours, Mine, or Ours?

 

Some of you may have seen the cartoon “All in the Family” in Sundays Comics.   The older boy is telling his little brother as his mother carries away a toy they were fighting over—-“Everytime I say “its mine” and you say “its yours”,  Mommy gets it !! That’s  the way things are in a competitive world where we either win or lose.  We often end up with both of us losing.    This is true in our schools where we compete for grades when teachers grade on the curve.   Instead of learning together so that all can succeed we compete with our schoolmates for the grade that will tell the world whether we are intelligent or stupid; whether we will stop education after high school or go to college and graduate school.   It’s all competitive.   How much brainpower and talent is lost because of this?    In our business world we are either successful or not—-success means we stay in business, not successful means bankruptcy.   In national affairs you are either a Democrat or a Republican and when one or the other has to win the big losers are the American people and the general welfare.    In international affairs you either a friend or an enemy of our country.      It goes on and on.

Most of our individual, national, and international problems  are caused by this dualistic type of thinking. What is dualistic thinking?    In this type of thinking there are only two sides.   There is right or wrong, good or bad, decent or indecent, holy or of the devil.   We must be either for or against issues.   In many of  our churches we must believe a certain way or we are going to Hell as heretics.  If we are not “for” something we must be “against” it.  It seems that  our brains are almost hard-wired to think this way.   And yet, there is another way we can think.   It is called “holistic thinking” .  To think “holistically”—not from the point of view of our own egos but from the point of view of our shared humanity is achieved by  looking at the big picture rather than the picture through our own individual and ego-limited view.   It is to consider that the answer may lie in “both/and” rather than “either/or”.

I recently attended a meeting at our church which featured a lady from our denomination’s Reconciliation Ministry.   Her answer to racism was for us to dialogue about our differences.   Never in the time she spoke did she say anything about sharing what we have in common!     If we dwell on our differences then to bring about reconciliation some or both of us  have to change.  If we dwell on our agreements and our common needs and beliefs then we can say that there is not as much need to change.   There is a common ground that we as humans  all share that is somewhere between our differences.    Searching for that common ground is the result of holistic thinking.  Looking at the big picture rather than the limited ego-drive view that we as inidividuals have is to think holistically.

When we come to the the place where it doesn’t have to be either/ or but can be “both/and” we will find that most of the problems that divide us have solutions.   The solution is to begin to look for commonalities, not differences.

A few examples may help:    Those who are from different ethnic backgrounds who see things dualistically  say:  ” I must keep my culture and not allow anyone to change it—-or they can say—my culture is important and I will hold on to the parts important to me;  but everyone doesn’t have to think of my culture as I do.”  The latter is “both/and” thinking.  It holds that it’s o.k to love my culture, but I am also a part of a larger culture that is the American culture and I have many things in common with my fellow Americans.       I can be a “both/and” individual.   Both  my ethnic culture and my American culture are important to me.   I don’t have to give up one to keep the other.

Think what this different way of thinking (“both/and”)  might mean in politics.   It doesn’t have to be the Democratic party winning or the Republican Party winning—it can be what is good for the American Way winning and both parties are  a part of that way so both parties and the the American people as a whole win!    Wouldn’t that be revolutionary in today’s partisan political warfare?

If we can give up our either/or ways and focus on the “both/and” ways, what a difference it would make, not only in politics, but religion,  ethics,  racial problems,  and many other areas of our lives.

I have been reading a book by Karen Armstrong called 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life.   In her book, Armstrong carefully documents how “compassion” is one of the key points in all of the principal world religions. That is a starting point for agreement among all countries and all religions.   What a difference that might make if we did things for each other and for all of those around us on the basis of compassion.   It would be revolutionary!!

Live As Brothers or Perish as Fools

 

As we prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day next Monday, I would like to share some words of his that we might ponder:

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change.   Every society has its protectors of the status auo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions.   But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face  the challenge of change.   The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world into a world-wide brotherhood.   Together we must learn to live like brothers or together we will perish as fools.”

The need for this has not changed since Dr. King departed this life but has grown even stronger as we live in a global society.   Are you listening U. S Congress and Senate?   Are you listening, Mr. President?   Are you listening Kansas state legislators?  Are you listening Gov. Brownback?   Or are you going to lead us to perish as fools?

Learn to live like brothers, or perish as fools!

Putting King’s words in a different way is this story, author unknown that was published in “Morning Story and Dilbert”.

The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance in black and bitter cold.   Each one possessed a stick of wood, or so the story’s told.  Their dying fire in need of logs, the first woman held hers back for on the faces around the fire, she noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way saw one not of his church, and couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.

The third man sat in tattered clothes, he gave his coat a hitch.  Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought of the wealth, he had in store.  And how to keep what he had earned from these lazy poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from his sight, for all he saw in his  stick of wood was a chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group did naught except for gain.   Giving only to those who gave as how he played the game.   The logs held tight in death’s still hands was proof of human sin.   They didn’t die from the cold without, they died from the cold within.

Talking Out of Both Sides of our Mouth….

 

Do you know how many school children are homeless in Wichita this year?  Do you know whether the number is increasing or decreasing?   Do you care?  Really—do you care??  Do Christians care?   Do churches care?    Really???  If you say you care I think you are doing what a lot of people are doing these days—talking out of both sides of your mouth at the same time.

A recent editorial in the Wichita Eagle newspaper, referring to a recent state report,  gives some disturbing statistics about the number of children in Wichita and in Kansas that are homeless.    The report says that 10,378 public school students in Kansas were homeless sometime during the 2013-1014 school year.    That is 1,048, or 11 percent more than the previous year.   Much of the increase came from the Wichita School District, which saw its number of homeless students jump by 755, or 46 percent, last year—-from 1,637 to 2,392 students.  Wichita also keeps track of younger siblings of families who are homeless and with those younger children added the total number of children who were homeless last year was about 2700.

You would think that the Governor and the State Legislature would be shocked and working to help school districts financially to meet this crisis by coming up with extra funding..   Not so in Kansas, where Governor Brownback and the GOP legislative leaders are working to come up with a way  to circumvent a court order to increase state funding for K-12 schools by $500 million in the future budget.   As the editorial says:   “While they are trying to avoid their constitutional responsibility to suitably finance education, Kansas schoolchildren are wondering where they will sleep tonight.

The effect of homelessness on these children is drastic and probably permanent.  They are affected emotionally.   Can you imagine the effect of this on their self-esteem?   They are often hungry.   They often lack such things as winter coats or eyeglasses that are needed.    Their teachers often pay for these things out of their own pockets.  Yes!   Those same teachers that Brownback and the state legislature took away  tenure rights from last year!

And what are my fellow Christians and the churches doing about all of this?   Are they shocked?    Are they demanding that the state come up with the money by rolling back the economically unadvised reduction and erasing of state income taxes for small businesses and independent owners such as doctors and lawyers, etc.?    Are the churches advocating for these children?    Are they writing and calling their state legislators and the governor and saying, this is not acceptable?   Change it!

No—my fellow Christians have been silent—-and in their silence we find there acceptance to the above crisis.    You see we talk out of both sides of our mouth.  With one side of our mouth we say we want all children to be taken care of and well educated—-while with the other side of our mouth we say we don’t want to have to pay for it!   We want children to learn, but we silently assent to the legislature and governor taking Tobacco Funds earmarked for Early Childhood Education in order to balance the budget because of the income tax cuts.   With one side of our mouth we say:   Parents should be able to take care of their children and with the other side we give silent assent to not raising the minimum wage because that might make our MacDonald burgers more expensive.   Kansas is one of only 13 states whose minimum wage is still  $7.25 an hour.  All others are higher—some as high as $10.00 an hour.

If Christians and the churches really cared about children as they profess to do they would no longer remain silent.   Kansas is often referred to as the “belly button of the Bible Belt”.    I suggest that Christians and their churches they attend pick up those Bibles and read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.    They will find that the Jesus they claim to name themselves after held children as of ultimate importance.   You can read what he said and did concerning children in Matthew 19: 13-15:

Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray.   The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said:  “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”   And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.”   (See also:  Luke:18:16; Mark 9:36-37; Mark 10:15; Luke 9:47-48; Luke 18:17) 

  Do you care about homeless children?   Really???  If you do—its time you let it   be known to the rest of the world,  starting with our governor and GOP state legislature—-AND START DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

 

Living the Gospel in a Changed World

 

Text:     Luke 3: 1-14

            Two Sundays ago (Sun. Dec. 28) when I was with you in worship,  an elderly gentleman sat down with me after church.    He was plainly upset that so few worshipped together that Sunday.   He said “Pastor I want to ask you a question.      Is  it going to take another major disaster to fill these pews again?” As a pastor I have heard these words often and I answered  that I’m not sure even a disaster will fill the pews the next time.   I feel that is true because of a church that has not changed but is living in the midst of a world that has changed all around them. 

            I really believe that the church as we know it must radically change or it will become increasingly irrelevant and be brushed aside even more than it is already, thus increasingly dwindling in numbers.   A great and radical change must take place  in the structure and practices of proclaiming the gospel that Jesus proclaimed if we are to take a running jump into the 21st century, address its problems and the things that impact people’s lives so we can meet the needs of individuals, communities and nations in this 21st century world.  My opinion is that only as we live the gospel each day can we proclaim it to the 21st century.  Today’s generations are not interested in words, they are interested in action.

            Because, just as Charles Dickens began his novel about the French Revolution with:  A Tale of Two Cities, with the words:    “These were the best of times, these were the worst of 1times….”, so must we see these as the best of times for the church and yet the worst of times also!

The “Best of Times” for the church because there is so much need for the proclamation of the Kingdom to be lived out to change a world that is spiraling into hopelessness, despair and violence. 

The “Worst of Times” because the church feels it has been abandoned—that its message has been stifled—almost a feeling of grief for the “good times of the mid-20th century when the churches were full and Christianity was thriving as never before—-when churches were full and building new ones on the theory if you build they will come and fill the church.   That all began to change in the 1960’s and 1970’s.    But in these “worst of times” comes the challenge to live the gospel as never before.   We cannot depend on the state, or the culture to promote the Christian Way.   They no longer do so—-now is the chance for Christians to show by the life they live what life in the Kingdom of God here on earth should be like.   And what a need there is to do so!!

Into the  “worst of times” in Jesus’ day came John the Baptizer—-preaching a “message of repentance” to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.  We might ask how  a “message of repentance” prepared the way for Jesus?    Was it because people were so bad and sinful?    No—–it is because we misunderstand the word “repentance” these days.   We have come to understand it as “feeling sorry for having disobeyed God” or “regretting the bad things we have done.   That was not the meaning of repentance in John’s day.   In the Greek the word is metanoia— and it’s meaning is “turning around”.    John was urging people to be willing to turn around and go in a different direction—the direction Jesus proclaimed— to turn toward the Kingdom of God.    The Kingdom of God was breaking in on earth—-this Kingdom of God is not “heaven” or “pie in the sky bye and bye”—-the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed was a new way of living—-a very different way of living.  And it must be  a new way of living in the world—right now.   The church has really not succeeded well in living the Gospel.  Study the Gospels and see what the Kingdom of God is as Jesus proclaimed it throughout  those gospels— in the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables of the Kingdom and   his healing and compassionate ministry.    Jesus proclamation of the Kingdom of God set  the business of living in this world in the conventional way on its head in many ways:   In God’s Kingdom, Jesus said: 

Blessed are the poor”—-not the rich.

Blessed are the meek”—-not the powerful.  The meek will inherit the earth instead of the conventional expectation that the powerful and rich will do so and then pass it on to their heirs.

Blessed are the peacemakers—-they,  not the army generals as in Jesus time, will be called children of God

You have heard ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ but I say to you Do not resist an evildoer.  If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”

These descriptions Jesus gives of the way life in the Kingdom of God are very different from the usual way of life.   .  

The Kingdom of god is what the world would be like if God rule in human hearts   —-If God’s love and passion for justice for all ruled our lives

It is because early Christians were living the Way of the Kingdom of God that we read in Acts of the Apostles,  “these Christians are turning the world upside down!”  The Gospel , the Good News, of the Kingdom of God can do that!  

            The Kingdom of God was in direct opposition to the way things were in Palestine in the first century C.E.   The rulers were taking care of themselves and nobody else.   They were greedy and power-hungry rulers and also ruthless: that included everyone from the the Emperor Tiberius, through Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate, and Annas and Caiphas the high priests.   All were greedy for power and wealth and took it from the peasants who were 93 percent of the population, living a subsistence existence—-just barely enough to live on and survive.      When Jesus taught his disciples to pray saying—–“Give us this day our daily bread”  and “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” he was speaking of the two most constant worries of the peasant class—-food and freedom from debt. If you had no food, you starved.   If you couldn’t pay your debts, including your high taxes,  you were thrown in prison and if  yous  had land it was seized by your creditor to satisfy the debt.   Most peasants lost their land this way.   It took only one bad crop.

            The entire culture was designed to support the rich and powerful, who lived by different rules and standards than the peasant population at the expense of the peasants.  

            The culture was a military and violent culture.   If you were perceived to be an enemy of Rome you were crucified.   The roads leading out of Jerusalem at times were full of crosses where people were slowly dying as an example to the population that you do not challenge the Roman Empire.  Thousands were crucified by Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator in Judea where he ruled. 

            Religion was no help as the Jewish high priests were only interested in keeping the power they received by appointment by the Roman Emperor and making themselves wealthy by the business of the temple taxes and sacrifices.   

Does it sound familiar??   The similarities to  our country today are frighteningly apparent:

We also are a country where the rich and powerful live by different rules and standards than the common people and where those with money and power pass laws to become even more rich and powerful at the hands of a middle class that is turning into a peasant class.

A country where 10% of the people have 60% of the wealth with the other 40% of the wealth divided among the other 90% of the population.

A violent country where people with no conscience kill and rob on a daily basis.   Where life is cheap.   A country whose children kill and maim their teachers and fellow classmates. A country where multiple murders are committed in movie theaters and at marathons.  We live in a country where violence is commonplace.

A country where the greed and gluttony of huge financial institutions in order to enrich  their CEO’s and their stockholders,periodically eats up the savings of those most vulnerable who trusted them.

A country where the wealth of a Beverly Hills exists in stark contrast to the filth and poverty of a Watts in the same city of Los Angeles.

A country where the lonely and the aged, the poor and the mentally challenged,  the children with no access to health care and not enough to eat,  the homeless, and the misfits of society remain largely unseen and uncared about.   Programs to help them, such as affordable health care and extension of Medicaid benefits are the first ones cut from government budgets or discarded for political reasons.   We reduce food stamps and aid for struggling families in order to shrink the federal deficit—–while huge corporations that contribute to re-election of our legislators continue to receive tax breaks and other benefits they do not need.

We live in Kansas—-also a place where thousands of children go to bed hungry, without health care, and are homeless even though both parents work—-but for indecently low wages that can’t support their families—and we continue to support those who have made the lives of these vulnerable people worse and fail to speak out as a church about the lack of fairness and the injustice of the a system that gives businesses tax breaks on the backs of the poor and Corporate CEO’s 250% higher wages than those who work for them.

A place where religious leaders are too often in close collusion with political and governmental powers in order to get their limited negative agendas on abortion and gay rights taken care of legally.

This is a country ruled more and more by men and women whose only aim is to do whatever is necessary to stay in power, whether right or wrong does not matter, —-like modern day Herod’s and Pilates.

There is a need today for John the Baptist’s  voice crying in the wilderness, saying:  “Turn around, for there is a  better way than this way of greed and suffering that you are walking  It is the way of the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed!!

For people are wandering around in this wilderness today, having lost their moral, emotional and economic way—–yearning for something better and not quite knowing what that something better is.    They are yearning for someone to show them the way of Jesus—-a different way of living that leads to a society where all of God’s people are treated equally, fairly, and lovingly.  There are many others wondering in the wilderness of  drug abuse, of broken relationships, of too little income,  of homelessness.    There are those who have given up hope and struggle from day to day to fight down the urge  to end their lives.   There are those filled with anger who want to strike out at the world that abuses them and uses them.   These wanderers in the wilderness are young and old, rich and poor, male and female, all skin colors;  but they all feel vulnerable in a world that seems to have gone crazy. They are trying to raise families in this world where even the schools are unsafe for their children.   They are not aware of the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed.   They are waiting for someone to show them, not tell them  a different way—-a way that will give them and their children hope and happiness and a new beginning.  They are waiting for us to show them by our lives how to follow the Great Commandment of Jesus:   “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself.    That is the mission of the church—including this church—-To live the Great Commandment in the community that surrounds us.  If we do so we will find that filling the pews may not be the important thing, but  what is of ultimate importance is transforming people to be servants of God in his Kingdom on earth.  

            There is a whole generation of people called the Millennial Generation consisting of over  80 million individuals who need to hear this proclamation of the gospel.   They are between the ages of 18-33.    Polls tell us that 86% of them believe in God.   The majority of them are searching earnestly for meaning in their lives.   Few of them  are in our churches.         These are young people that  our churches can enlist in our journey towards experiencing more fully the Kingdom of God on this earth.   They love challenges.  They are searching for a different way of life that has meaning for them and their children.  A way of life that makes a difference in this world right now.    They crave authenticity. They can spot a fake a mile away!   They are some of those “wondering in the wilderness” searching for the Messiah—searching for a better way of living. They distrust institutions, including the church, so we need to show them that better way through the lives we lead as Christians.   Jesus proclaimed that Way.    He lived that way.   Early Christians were known as “People of the Way” And Jesus did not say to his generation—-come to church and find out about this way of life—-he went out into the villages and the countryside where people were and proclaimed it not only through his teaching but through his very life.  Early followers of the Way did the same thing as they spread the good news of the Kingdom of God throughout the world.  They did not do this by just preaching—-they did it by the way they lived.  Even pagans in their writing said:   “See how these Christians love one another.”

The Church is Jesus’ body and needs to show that way today, not just with words  but by the way they live.

              The Mission of the Church,  this post-resurrection community living in this pre-Christian world today, must be to proclaim the Kingdom of God through what we do and who who we are as God’s people..  

Listen to what one of the Millenial generation wrote  to you and me—-post-resurrection Christians…….

Do you know,

Do you understand

That you represent

Jesus to me?

 

Do you know, do you understand

That when you treat me with gentleness,

It raises the question in mind that maybe Jesus is gentle, too?

Maybe he isn’t someone who laughs when I’m hurt?

 

Do you know, do you understand

That when you listen to my questions and you don’t laugh,

I think, “What if Jesus is interested in my questions, also?”

 

Do you know, do you understand,

That when I hear you talk about arguments and conflict

And scars from your past

That I think, “Maybe I am just a regular person

Instead of a bad, no-good person who deserves abuse?

 

If you care, I think maybe God cares—

And then there’s this flame of hope that burns inside of me,

And for a while, I am afraid to breathe

Because it might go out.

 

 

Do you know, do you understand,

That your words are His words?

Your face, His face to someone like me?

 

Please be who you say you are.

Please, God, don’t let this be another trick.

Please let this be real.

Please.

Do you know, do you understand?

That you represent Jesus to me?