Neil DeGrasse Tyson said this week:
"I dream of a world where truth shapes people's politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true."
I would take it a step further and say that I dream of a world where, for Christians, it is Christ that shapes our truth. Not political leanings, socialist, conservative or otherwise!
I was really unhappy about the government's decision to restrict churches. I don't think it was fair, nor well reasoned. I have no problem with criticising the government and its leaders, but I am concerned when we spout things like:
"Jacinda is a witch"
"They are a bunch of Communists"
"Its a deep state conspiracy”
Conspiracy theories are a wellspring of gossip. They have a free licence to slander without a care, and I cannot see how anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ entertain such talk. I bet most of us in New Zealand wouldn't even know what socialism is, and I wonder how many would be surprised to know that most conservative American Christians believe New Zealand itself is socialist solely because we have universal health care!
Critique is often a good fuel for growth. A good leader values it as much as praise. Malicious talk, on the other hand, does no good at all.
Furthermore, we need to be careful that "church," or more aptly, Sunday services, do not become an idol. We follow a God who gave up his rights so that we can be saved. He calls us to carry our cross. To lose our life so we can gain it. To give up our rights, as He did, so that the Father may be glorified. The moment we begin screaming for our religious rights, I imagine our voice has become much louder than the voice of the Spirit that is in us.
I miss meeting together on Sundays like you cannot believe. I miss shaking hands and hugging you all as you come up those stairs. But, church is not just Sunday. And in parts of the world where Christians cannot meet, believe it or not, Christianity is growing. Far more than it does in places where Christians have been free to meet for years! Most probably because they are spending less time arguing for their rights and more time sharing the love of Christ.
There is no wrong in calling something out, let's just be challenged about how we do it and where we go with it.
Sunday Morning Prayer Gathering
Prior to our Sunday morning service (before Covid-19 and being confined to our homes), we had a group of faithful members gathering before the service to pray. We would like to continue that, but open it up to anyone who wants to join us together on zoom. This Sunday will be our first "pre-service" prayer Sunday morning prayer gathering. We've structured it as follows:
Time: Sunday morning, 9.00am to 9.45am
The Zoom link for this Sunday's meeting is:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 826 2829 2181
This Sunday morning we will be praying virtually around the church. We'll move virtually through each room and pray. Kere Bennett has a theme for each room (e.g. church leadership and direction, new beginnings) as well as praying for the people who normally use that room.
Looking forward to joining with you all in prayer this Sunday morning!
Questions to Ponder at home or in LifeGroups
I've thought about some things we can talk about/share amongst ourselves, in groups online or in our family bubble.
- What is an unusual food combination that you enjoy?
- A church in Calgary had a worship service in mid-March and then gathered together for a celebratory social event. There were only 41 people present, and they were careful to observe two meter distancing and good hand hygiene. They followed all the rules and did nothing wrong. Despite that, 24 of the 41 people at the party ended up infected. Two of them died.
As public health restrictions begin to loosen, how do churches navigate the road ahead?
- The cultural traditions and context of the Bible are radically different than today’s social norms, so how do you use scripture to address current issues such as gender roles, gay marriage, abortion, immigration reform, and our rights to our religious beliefs?
May the Lord bless you and may His peace cover you and your family through this time.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear...