As Christians, we all enjoy learning about history, habits, customs, and traditions found in the Scriptures. Recently, I listened to a wonderful lecture on Sacrifices, the Cleansing of Sin, etc. There was instruction on Old Testament and New Testament understanding. At some point during the talk, I began to consider the reality of our environment. For me, the word “Sin” (罪) is not threatening or something that I fear the confession of since I have Christ as my Savior. Yet, I had to admit to myself that the lecture was focused only on Christians and would be absolutely unacceptable to a non-Christian! The term “sin” would be totally misunderstood and the idea of sitting/listening to this presentation would “miss the target.”
I began to question, if everyone in that room were to think about their co-workers and their attitudes towards the concept of what they understand to be “sin,” probably 100% of those people would deny that they are a “sinner.” 1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Yet, do most non-Christians even grasp what they are saying when they say that are not a “sinner?” For us today, I want to challenge us to remember that we live in a “Post-Modern World” where “Sin” is not considered a valued item. Reading is no longer the most highly valued approach to learning as video has taken over that position. Talk is less of an impact when people are looking for authenticity. If we depend on the church service and words alone to communicate Christ’s activity and love, MANKIND WILL BE LOST. We must, as Christians, determine to be “risk takers who push ourselves” with communicating Christ’s love to our world. What creative and interesting skills do you offer that will get you into the lives of the lost where you may demonstrate “Christ’s Love?”
Do ministers ever wonder about the quality or receptivity of the messages they share? The answer is, yes! Just as is true with this article or a sermon, a pastor desires to present encouraging and stretching messages that have value in helping his readers/hearers to become more effective in living out their lives for Christ. And yet, I can’t help but question whether this attitude of self-expectation is valid? Let us think about it.
Did Jesus worry about, or have any concern for, whether his messages were popular or desired by his listeners? Was Jesus selective to only share messages that would be gentle or non-threatening? Did Jesus only speak to hearers who would be receptive or His thoughts or did He find himself in multiple types of environments?
Stephen was a joyous Christian of courage and burden. Stephen was stoned to death for his efforts. John the Baptizer was a dedicated layman of strong stock and personality as he went wherever it was required to share the story of Jesus. John was beheaded and had his head placed on a plate for his efforts. Jesus was a loving Savior that modeled honest and clear challenge for men to repent and seek the Kingdom of God at all costs. He was crucified.
Hmmm, maybe worrying about the popularity of a message and its’ receptivity isn’t something that shows my hunger to be like Christ after all. Maybe this attitude reflects something that I, and others, need to think about a bit more?
When I was 11 years of age, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. As history has shown, he was not a man of high morals or personal integrity. Some have referred to him as a womanizer. Yet, in his work as a diplomat and leader, he served in a day when the world was full of complex issues including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs, and the growing conflicts in Vietnam. What I remember of that president was a statement that he made over and over. “Ask NOT what your country can do for you, but ask what YOU can do for your country!” While I may view President Kennedy as a flawed leader, his question is still useful to me.
For FCBC, we must ask ourselves how valuable it is to be part of this church and how willing we are to serve in assisting our church to grow? We might consider, “Ask NOT what your church can do for you, but what YOU can do for your church!” Brothers & sisters, our church is weak in some areas and needs you! We need your creativity, your dedication, your willingness to see holes in our ministry where you can “jump in” and take up the task. Spotting our problems and weaknesses is not helpful, UNLESS you and I are willing to partner together and find answers. We are a family….let us find joy in that fact! I praise God for our multi-cultural and multi-lingual church that has found its worth the effort to cooperate for His Kingdom.
“First Chinese Baptist Church of Phoenix” tells anyone that we are a number of things. We are, at the very least, a group of Christians that meet together in the city of Phoenix. We have a belief system that follows the Baptist denomination. We are, probably, made up primarily of ethnic Chinese individuals. Beyond that, who are we?
In the Book of Revelation, the church of Ephesus is said to have “lost its focus…and “first love.” The church of Laodicea was described as being “lukewarm” and neither hot nor cold. Let us consider, for a moment, how others might view FCBC and describe us? Which descriptions would you choose for us to be known as?
1) “Left Its First Love”
2) Comfortable and Secure
3) Financially Stable and Predictable
4) Bold and Risk Taking
5) Careful and Selective
6) Burdened and Creative
7) Significant and Adventuresome
8) Non-threatening and Courteous
9) Honest and Offensive
10) Safe and Traditional
11) Generous and Sacrificial
Who are we and who do we “hunger” to be? The Scripture challenges us to “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” It may be “safer” to stay in our homes and church buildings in order to avoid the problems of life but, in fact, our greatest impact is found in how we make decisions and engage life and people. When we think about Jesus, he impacted people not because he remained in an environment of security, but because he dared to boldly push forward, questioning the values of his society and world. Let us pray for clarity and the courage to push beyond our own “comfortable Christian bindings.” The church must be the church and that is us!