Monday, March 24, 2014

We should be better

We should be better. Period.

We all know it. We all strive for it, or at least resolve to do so. We all know we have shortcomings and areas to improve in. We should all eat better, exercise more, save more, rest more but I'm not talking about us as individuals, I want to talk about us as he church. The church should be better and those of us who are a part of it need to be better. 

A called people

Let's start in the beginning. God created the heavens and the earth, He created everything, seen and unseen, including us. We are not only His creation but He created us in His image. There is a lot in hat to unpack but we all know how things went, sin entered the world and God's creation, us included, were marred by sin. God didnt leave us like this however, He hatched a rescue plan by calling a man to go in faith on the promise of descendants, land and to become a blessing to all nations. Eventually God called the nation this man had fathered out of captivity and to Himself to be His people and to begin the process of restoring a fallen world. When the people were called out of Egypt they were gathered at the base of the mountain were God, through Moses, told them who they were, where they came from and how they were now to live in light of these revelations. 

Called to be better

The people of Israel were called to be better than the nations around them. Not better for they sake of being the best but better because they were to reflect the LORD their God and the fact that God's economy and God's ethics were better than those of man. Laws like allowing for gleaning showed hat God cared about the poor. Laws like putting a fence around your roof (because in that time and place roofs were flat and often used as patios) or not leaving open pits that people and animals could fall into show us that God wants us to not endanger people on our property. Laws about debt forgiveness, proper payment of wages and treatment of foriegners show us that God values people over money. You see God's people were to be different in such a way as to make the neighbours pause and ask "Why are you so different? Why do you conduct yourself with such honour and integrity?" 

Called to reflect

You see God was wanting His people to reflect Him, the way He had created us all to be. He wanted His people to be a light in the world that had grown dark with sin. He wanted His people to bring glory and worship to Him who had created, loved and called them. As one reads through he law, Leviticus and Deuteronmy in particular, you cannot help but see how these commands about how God's people were to live are inseperably mixed with the commands covering how they were to worship. The way they conducted business, the way they treated the poor and foriegner the responsibility they took for the safety of those on their property were not one realm and worship another, they were the same thing.

We haven't been called to change

Today as the church of Christ our calling is no different. We are a called people, called to reflect our Lord and to be salt and light in the world. The principles of the law of the Old Testament are still in effect. We are still to care for the poor, treat people fairly and generally reflect God to the world around us. As image-bearers of Christ, carriers of the name Christian our conduct is inseparable from our Worship, our Monday - Friday, 9-5 inseperable from our Sunday 10am. The trouble is we too often adopt a position of church is church and business is business. That we need to keep our faith out of business and keep the business world out of the church. This false worldview makes us act poorly in the world as individuals because we are a different person at work than we are at church. It also makes us act poorly as, and within, the church because things are "spiritual" and we should not let the spritual bend to the world. It sounds good, but it's too often wrong and we end up being image-marrers rather than image-bearers. 

A call to be better, not a call to tear down

I am writing this and the posts that will follow in this thread, not to tear down but in the hope it will spark honest reflection about how we can be better. I will share some of my own experiences as well as those of others. Examples given will be as anonymous as possible and are not meant to shame or expose anyone but rather to help us to see how we can all be better because we should be.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thou shall not steal

So we all know it

It's number eight of "the big ten" right between adultery and bearing false witness. We don't do it do we? We don't steal. I personally have never held up a convenience store, robbed a bank or even pinched a candy bar. As a church we surely wouldn't do it, the media would be all over us in no time. Just imagine this "we need to put an addition on the church but we really can't afford it right now. No problem, we'll ask all the guys in the church to bring their trucks and their muscle and we'll go meet at the lumberyard after dark and and load up everything we need for the addition. It's for the Lord's work so it's fine, who can stop us from doing His good work?" Wouldn't fly would it?

How about, it's time to rebuild our church website and everything on the web is free so what does it matter if we just download and copy someone else's site? How about if we just take some of their pictures because they're really nice. What about music, have we kept up on our CCLI fees? Do we know what they cover? Do they cover every piece of music we use in ever setting we use it? When we have a family movie night, do we have the right to show the film publicly? Are we allowed to rip off this year's blockbuster for our VBS so we can latch on to the mulit-million dollar marketing blitz that has put the franchise in the mind, clothing, bedroom and toychest of every child in our community?

But it's for ministry!

The librarian at the school I went to seminary at told me once that theological libraries have the highest rate of theft among academic libraries. Think about that, the places we are training pastors and church leaders have the highest rate of theft. We speculated at the reasons for this, often theological students are broke. Bible colleges and seminaries are almost exclusively private schools and are quite costly. Often times students are already engaged in vocational ministry and thus already living on very little. Also, the books found in a theological library tend to be on the pricey side. Then of course there is that essential ingredient to sin, the justification. That little internal dialogue where tell ourselves "I really need this to do the ministry God has called me to do. Besides, I'll return it when I'm done with it." The intent to return it never goes away, it simply serves as the justification for what we have done. 

Doing it right

Leading lives and ministries of integrity and character means respecting the law and the rights of others. Even a national hero like Chris Hatfield has to respect copywrite ( ) so why shouldn't we as the church?  We'll use excuses like "it costs too much"or "it's too hard" or "we'll never get caught" ask yourself when are any of those excuses really valid.

We should be better.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The long journey

It's been over two years without a post which puts me in good stead with many bloggers. In the past two years I've moved on from the church I was at, moved back to my home town, been working in the business world but still keeping my toe in ministry. The biggest event of e past couple years has been the arrival of our son, who is very special in many ways and with him our family has been on a journey we never expected. Over he past few years I've learned much and mused much, we'll see how many of those musings make it here.