We all know the story. Galileo, the Italian astronomer, insisted that the planets revolved around the sun. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, insisted that the earth was in the center, and all else revolved around us. Galileo was smart, the church was ignorant (to put it nicely), and he was brought before the Inquisition. They convicted him of heresy and forced him to recant. But now we know better—even the Catholics have agreed that Galileo was correct. The conclusion? This all provides yet one more example that scientists are smarter than Christians.
Except… that story is just that—a story. It isn’t exactly true, and leaves out a lot of very important facts.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found at the very end of Matthew. It gets me though the hard times, the good times, and all the times in between. It reminds me of my source of comfort, joy, and power. You’ll find Matthew 28:20b at the end of the Great Commission, where Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Last week was our church’s annual SERVE Gala. The staff went all out to let our church volunteers know they’re loved and appreciated, and each of our church’s five campuses singled out a Volunteer of the Year. It was fun, heartfelt, an excellent way to say thank you for all the time and effort members of our congregations invest in our church.
Pete and I were there because we, too, are church volunteers, helping out in a variety of ways. I believe that every churchgoer should serve their church body, according to their gifts and abilities. (Check out Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12.)
But there was something missing, something I rarely see mentioned when it comes time to talk about serving: while helping out at church is important, not all serving should happen in the church.
Lately, I’ve noticed that there’s a whole lot of public shaming going on. It doesn’t even need to be for a egregious sin.
For instance, I was reading a Facebook post where someone bragged that they hung all their laundry on a clothesline, and couldn’t understand why any sane person would use a clothes dryer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with hanging your clothes out to dry. But it was the attitude, one of “do what I do or you are a terrible person” that bothered me. The implication was that she was superior to us lesser mortals who use clothes dryers, and we should change to imitate her.
It was Sunday morning, and we were at church listening to a guest speaker. I appreciate that our pastor brings in speakers from other churches; one person can’t possibly cover every topic with excellence. However, in this case, the speaker was preaching popular psychology rather than Biblical truth. And I was getting agitated.
I tried to pinpoint exactly what the speaker was saying that was bothering me. I finally realized—instead of being centered on loving Jesus, the sermon was all about loving ourselves. And while I’m sure some people put themselves down, the solution isn’t to focus more on ourselves, but rather to get our eyes off ourselves and onto the God who loves us unconditionally.
[Thanks to my husband for setting my mind on this track!]
There are certain “spiritual” practices that most Christians would agree are a Good Idea—practices such as reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers. If you stop and consider, you might add additional items to this list—meditating on God and His word, practicing hospitality, generosity (aka giving), and fasting. We often aren’t aware that those among us are fasting, but I’m sure they are. Jesus assumed his followers would fast; it just isn’t something that we’re supposed to notice. Continue reading
We were at our church’s Good Friday service, just a few weeks ago. Pete and I arrived “less early” than we usually do and found our usual spots already taken, so we ended up sitting further back than normal. No big deal, I thought. But as the service opened with the worship our church is noted for, I discovered that sitting in the back was a much bigger deal than I had anticipated.
The people around us weren’t participating.