A couple of sermons ago, I talked about the International Space Station as an illustration. I forgot to include this thought-provoking quote that impacted me:
What does Christianity have to offer culture? The last couple of years it has become evident that a post-Christian culture does not understand grace, forgiveness, and transformation. We offer these.
While that which is secret, underground, and unchecked needs to be exposed; as Christians we oppose the evil stronghold, not the person.
God forgave us, so we forgive.
All humans are flawed.
All humans behave wickedly.
All humans are offered grace.
“What God has made clean, do not call impure.” – Jesus (Acts 10:15)
*This is not in direct reaction to any current news story, but a general observation about our culture’s response to individual shortcomings.
The evangelical church has gone through several phases since the Super Bowl started taking place right in the middle of the traditional Sunday night service.
Phase 1 (1980s): You are a bad Christian if you even think about skipping Sunday night service to watch the Super Bowl.
Phase 2 (early 1990s): We will all watch the Super Bowl at the church. This will include a potluck, youth fundraiser, and technical difficulties.
Phase 3 (late 1990s): Watch the Super Bowl with a group from the church, but you have to turn it off and do a devotional at half time.
Phase 4a (late 2000s): Watch the Super Bowl at home, but don’t enjoy it too much. Don’t get used to skipping church!
Phase 4b (late 2000s): The weekly Sunday night service is eliminated. (See the correlation to Phase 4a)
Phase 5 (early 2010s). Make the Sunday morning worship service to the Almighty God revolve around a Super Bowl theme. 🙂Worship team, buy your favorite NFL jersey to wear on stage.
Phase 6 (late 2010s): Skip church all day, because it’s Super Bowl Sunday.
* Disclaimer: I had fun writing this post. It was not meant for pastoral direction or cultural critique.
As we return to a more normal work rhythm, let’s not take for granted the jobs, institutions, vocations, and traditions we now carry on.
I love this thought by author David Brooks:
“A person is born into a collection of permanent institutions, including the army, the priesthood, the fields of science, or any of the professions, like being a farmer, a builder, a cop, or a professor. Life is not like navigating through an open field. It is committing oneself to a few of the institutions that were embedded on the ground before you were born and will be here after you die. It is accepting the gifts of the dead, taking on the responsibility of preserving and improving an institution and then transmitting that institution, better, on to the next generation.”
Why do Christians love the Bible so much? There are many answers, but let’s not forget this crucial reason: individual Christians have not always had the Scripture!
For centuries only spiritual leaders could access the Bible. This arrangement made God’s people vulnerable when leadership did not follow God’s heart. The courage and sacrifices of John Wycliffe (1328-1384), William Tyndale (1494-1536) and their ministry partners left us an incomparable gift – the Scripture in English. Read their stories some time.
As you pick your Bible to read in 2019, remember that the ability to read Scripture in your native language was very costly. Whatever we appreciate becomes valuable to us. Let us approach Scripture reading with deep appreciation.
We get to do this!