Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Being the Church for the Sake of Others

Earlier this year I attended a seminar at which Bishop Todd Hunter was one of the speakers.  I was struck by a simple two-part truth he laid down for us- He said we most effectively grow God's Kingdom here on Earth when we are both (1) differentiated from the culture, and (2) committed to the culture: 

        Differentiated from the culture by being a community centered on the uniqueness of Christ (God incarnate) and work of Christ (His Cross and Resurrection). 

Committed to the culture by being ambassadors of Christ for the sake of the world.  In the great economy of the Kingdom of God, we live the Faith for the sake of others.

                                                   Father Rob

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Four Crucial Goals of the Christian Life

I once read in Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch magazine his listing of four essentials for finding New Life in Christ.  It is well-worth sharing here:

1.     Claim your salvation and live into it:  God’s unconditional love and un-deserved redemption, simply stated, gives you the spiritual and emotional freedom to grow, change and to be transformed by the power of God in your life. 

2.  Be Intentional about your spiritual growth and your relationship with God: Growing in the image of Christ involves intentionality.  In your New Life (Born Again life, to use Jesus’ words) relationship with God through Christ, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in you.  With His power and presence, you can seek God’s face daily and grow in your knowledge and love of the Lord. 

3.   Immerse yourself in a caring, loving, sharing Christian fellowship: True Christian fellowship is a foretaste of the Communion of Saints gathered in Heaven from throughout time and for always.  It is in relationship with others that you learn to unconditionally love the way Christ unconditionally loves you.  You are called by Christ to move ever more deeply into being involved in other people’s lives.   It is in the Church that you can be a blessing to others, and in the process yourself can be blessed by others.

4.    Allow God’s Holy Spirit to lead you from self-absorption to self-giving: At its heart the Christian journey is a movement from self-absorption to self-giving.  To be like Christ is to sacrifice, even suffer, for others.  Jesus says in John 15:13, No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  This sounds like something reserved for the Saints (with a capital S), but to think so would be unbiblical. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Christian Response to Homsexulaity-

In today’s culture, we see people responding to open and active homosexuality on a wide gamut from affirming acceptance to gay bashing.  The former comes out of an “enlightened” modernistic creed of individualism and lack of transcendent authority concerning human sexuality: the latter stems from a fallen human instinct to abhor and reject what is different.  Neither response is Christian. 

The Christian response is wisdom, grace and unconditional love.  Paul writes in Colossians 4:5-6, "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person."  In the face of active and open homosexuality, the Christian response is God’s kind of love- the same Agape love Jesus had for the Samaritan woman at the well even while she was still in her aberrant lifestyle, or Nicodemus even in his confusion about Kingdom Truth, or beloved Matthew even while he was still deep in his sin as a tax collector and extorter. 
 
We in the Church should allow the love of Christ to flow through us such that gays turn to Him and not away from Him.  We should also be aware that many who find themselves with same-sex attractions do in fact live quiet lives under Biblical principles in celibacy and great commitment and devotion to our Lord.  May these brothers and sisters find their church family supportive, encouraging and loving.           

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Great Cosmic Drama

The German theologian Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) described worship as a great cosmic drama.  In the Eucharist, which has been the central act of worship for the Christian community from the very beginning of the Church, God is author and director of the drama.  God has written us a script in two acts; we call the two acts the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table.  God invites us not to be the audience, but to be the participants, the actors, in this great drama.  It is we who are invited to take our place at the Eucharistic Table as a foreshadowing of the Great Banquet Feast of the Lamb and our place at the Lord's Table forever.

Holy Eucharist is the most important thing we do together as a church family.  The Eucharist is a gift from God and the clearest and strongest way of telling that "old, old story."  It is the greatest story ever told, a story of cosmic proportions.