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.
“Please give three references.” I was helping someone I’d recently met to fill out a job application. She’d already listed her contact information, work experiences, and skills. Now she just had to list three people who knew her well, and she could turn in the form.
I figured that she didn’t need my assistance with this part, so I moved on to helping another person. But later, when I reviewed the woman’s application, I realized that, for her, this had been the most challenging question of all. Yes, she had listed three people, but they were people I knew well—and I knew they didn’t know her at all.
Do you want to rent an apartment? Buy an airline ticket? Get a date? If you do—and you’re a citizen of China—you’d better have a good social credit score.
Four years ago, the Chinese government announced a new system with the goal of “raising the awareness for integrities and the level of credibility within society.” In other words, the government wants more control of the economy and the population. What a surprise.
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.
I saw the headline and had to click on the article:
Repent and Believe in the Gospel! Over 300 Christian Theologians Challenge the Corruption of U.S. Christianity.
American Christianity is corrupt? We’ve abandoned the gospel? This is alarming! I read further…
The Boston Declaration, condemning the abuse of the Christian faith by many conservatives today, was just written, signed and released by over 300 hundred Christian theologians attending the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, an annual meeting of nearly 10,000 professionals in religion. … [T]he presenters were clear that white American Evangelicalism is in a crisis, a crisis of its own making. It has abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ.