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.
Here’s a little quiz for you. When a Christian is caught doing something wrong, we should:
- Post it on Facebook
- Alert the press
- Talk to them gently, one on one
I wish the church was full of perfect people. I wish none of us ever did anything wrong—that no Christian ever had an affair, or watched pornography. Never cheated on their taxes or fiddled with the accounting. Never hated, or was slef-righteous, or ignored a person in need.
As I mentioned last week, I recently read an article titled “Meet the Woke Young People Trying to Make Christianity Cool Again.” (I’m a bit confused by the “woke” in there, but whatever.) The article bemoaned the gap between public opinion and the opinions of evangelical Christians. To quote: “It doesn’t help that Christian communities can be out of step with the rest of the country when it comes to certain issues.” Furthermore, the authors insist that it’s the Christians who need to change.
Last week I visited the article’s first premise—that Christianity is supposed to be cool. Today I want to consider the notion that Christians should align themselves with our culture’s values. Continue reading