Authentic Christianity & "My Rights"
Spring Surge 2020--Preparing for Pentecost
Some of you live in states that, beginning this week, are slowly opening businesses, including church gatherings. While there is much work to be done to guarantee the health and safety of congregants, this also offers us a chance to teach.
Living in Oregon, I wrestle with watching the rest of our country open. While hearing that we will not be ready until June, and some suggest September, I become frustrated. I have already been notified that some of our non-profits and small businesses will close due to the lack of hope for this fall. Yes, I feel we are being “held back from the rest of the country,” however I acknowledge that we need to continue to be a state that has one of the lowest infection rates and death tolls in the US.
I admit…I go through bouts of frustration mixed with realizing it is not about “me.”
It is clear that many of us are frustrated by those in our communities who seem to be insensitive to the health of others, as well as the potential damages that unemployment, poverty, and paying rent and utilities with no income will have on others. We are truly in a quandary…but isn’t that where the church has always been called to minister?
Some of you have shared your concerns with the “insensitivity” of a few people concerning Covid-19, conspiracy theories, and “fake news.” I feel this same way when I wear a mask in the store and witness people who are not, or who blatantly violate personal space, suggest that masks are ridiculous, or make it difficult for employees to do their jobs while staying safe and healthy themselves.
Even more—we are frustrated when we see or hear this behavior from Christians.
However, we have a great opportunity upon re-opening our congregations to address this. We have the chance to teach, encourage our people to reflect on core Christian principles, and prepare for a Spring Surge beginning with Pentecost (the end of May). The Gospel can once again explode throughout the world with more than proclamation and church attendance.
Paul offers this core value of authenticity in his letter to the Corinthian Christians. They were a church that struggled to be authentic in a world that was fake, an illusion, and that encouraged people to compete and defeat others to move up the social scale. In 1 Corinthians 8-10 Paul took on a concern that was not only a problem at Corinth, but one that was common in most of the churches he led. In The Better Way: The Church of Agape in Emerging Corinth I make the case that one of the members of the church, Erastus, may have been a wealthy individual who had to host fundraising dinners to support the Isthmian Games that were held at Corinth.
The presence of meat markets, some supplying temples, would have presented a problem to the Jewish Christians. Idolatry had been a problematic event in Jewish history and hosting these dinners with meat offered to idols would have caused the Jewish members to feel uncomfortable, especially if one of their wealthy members was hosting a meal.
Paul explained that, while idols were nothing to the Christians, they were something to those who come from a culture where fleeing idolatry was the normal practice. As you read this section notice how Paul describes the issue:
Visit this link to view the planter discussion on ideas to encourage Authentic Christianity in your community.
God bless you this season.