Thursday, November 20, 2014

Angry Americans and the Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Americans are angry. Actually, according to recent studies, Americans are really angry. USA Today says that sixty percent of Americans report feeling angry or irritable – up from fifty percent just two years ago. Harvard Medical School published a study in which two-thirds of American teens report anger attacks involving the destruction of property, threats of violence, or engaging in violence. Again, Americans are angry.

With that in mind, the teachings of Jesus’ church are more important than ever. Grace, forgiveness, love, contentment, gratitude, and peace are virtues Christianity has promoted for centuries. The Son of God taught us these virtues in person. In a culture that seems to be getting more and more cranky, it makes sense that we would embody and promote those virtues.

In the book of James, the Bible says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” There is a righteous life Jesus calls His people to, it is different than anger, and the world around us can learn from it.

As you go through the coming week, ask the Lord to help you love. Pray that the Lord will cultivate a peace that surpasses understanding. Open your life to the joy of the Lord. As you do, you will find freedom from a life driven by emotions and temperament. You will also become a witness to a world gone mad.    

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Atheism and the "Fors" of Christianity

I recently read about a new kind of church. It is a church comprised of atheists. These churches or “assemblies” encourage community, testimony and celebration. They unite around a common disbelief in God.

That makes no sense to me. To this outsider, Atheism looks like a religion based on what it is against. It is propped up against the existence of God and, therefore, if God ceased to exist as a concept, so would they. That hardly seems compelling enough to build a church.

Still, if I’m honest, I have to admit that Christians can behave in similar ways. We are tempted to define ourselves by what we are not. We are tempted to think that we are Christians because we are against the secularists. We are against evolution. We are not humanists. We are not Muslims. When we do that that, we forget who we are in Christ and all the things we are for because of Jesus.

The earliest claims of Christian belief describe all kinds of things that Jesus’ people are for. The Apostles Creed says Christians believe in a ton of positive stuff that stands on its own two feet. We believe in God Almighty. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe Jesus was crucified, dead and buried, descended into hell and rose again on the third day. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the church and a whole lot more. As it turns out, Christians believe in a lot. You should read it. You should read the Bible too. Christianity offers a ton to be for.

As you go through the coming week, remember who you are in Christ. Remember all the things Jesus is for. Let the things we believe in define how you go about your day. As you do, you find a fullness of life defined by Jesus. You will also find something eternally positive to be for.