The Church--The Challenge of Life Together

Apparently, the great theologian Karl Barth was once asked after a lecture, “Do you think we’ll see again those we love in heaven?” Barth answered, “Yes, I do. And those we hate.” I have a hunch that one of the reasons many people find it hard to be a member of a church is that disciples are called to live with those we find very disagreeable—and yes sometimes hate.

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Roger Greene Comment

Lack of Connection and Depression

Social scientists have been asking a cross-section of U.S. citizens a simple question for years: “How many confidants do you have?” They wanted know how many people you could turn to in a crisis, or when something really good happens to you. When they started doing the study several decades ago, the average number of close friends an American had was three. By 2004, the most common answer was none. It’s worth pausing on that: there are now more Americans who have no close friends than any other option.

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Being Ashamed of Jesus

If I am truly honest with myself, I could identify any number of times that I have been “ashamed” of Jesus and the Gospel. As a preacher, I have often been afraid to challenge a congregation with the full implications of the Gospel because I was afraid of my loss of status in their eyes. Surprise! Like most people I like to be liked.

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Valuing Every Person

Most churches, including my own, are involved in all sorts of ministries that respond to the needs of others. The great danger in these ministries is that we forget that we are all in the same boat. We quickly divide up people between those with something to offer and those in need, those serving and those being served. As we make this division, it is easy to divide people between those who have value and those who don’t.

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Compartmentalized Religion

For Paul religion wasn’t something separated from the rest of life, it had to do with the totality of life. It had to do with how you related to your neighbors and  political authorities. It had to do with what you ate and with whom you ate. Religion had to do with the biblical hope that one day God would act decisively to establish his kingdom and make this world what God wants it to be.

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Failure and Renewal

The earliest witnesses of the Good News didn’t see their failures as an embarrassment to be denied, but as an essential chapter of the Good News. The Good News is not just that God raised Jesus from the dead, but that God transformed a bunch of total failures into a movement that changed the world.

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Continue Steadfastly

Like the first converts in Acts, new converts to the faith have often experienced a dramatic change in their life. Therefore, it is only natural for them to think that such drama is the order of the day in the church. However, what they soon find out is that this journey with God and the church is not all bells and whistles. Like any mature relationship it is built on steadfast commitment, not how we feel on any given day.

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Tapping Into Our Generative Roots

We read Acts to reconnect with our generative roots. Most of us know only too well that our own church communities are too often a pale reflection of what see in Acts. Therefore, as we ponder the story of the earliest Christians, can we allow this account of the early church to inspire our ongoing life and ministry?

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Why aren't We Persecuted for Being Christians?

We aren’t under attack because we have accommodated ourselves to the dominant culture. We too often view the church as more of a chaplain to the dominant culture rather than a witness to an alternative way. Indeed, when Christians do live in a counter-cultural way, they end up in trouble.

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