Not Ashamed…

Today’s blog post is by Chris Linderman, Director of Youth Ministry, 

One game that our high school students love playing is Ultimate Frisbee.  The game is a mix between soccer and football, but with a Frisbee. You have students that are fully in the game. They are jumping for passes. They are attempting to throw and catch even when they don’t feel confident in their abilities. Then you have others that just stand in the end zone and not really do anything.

In Student Ministry, I typically see two types of students—a participant & an observant. The participant student is engaged in what the student ministry is doing, even if it’s not something they feel comfortable with or enjoy. The participant is typically the student that understands that they have a role in the ministry and takes the initiative in fulfilling that role.

The observant student is the one that enjoys being on the team, but sits on the sidelines and never really wants to play. They just want to watch. The observant either doesn’t really want to fully invest in to it or they don’t think they fit in or have anything to offer to the rest of the team.

I believe that we have all played the observant role at some point in our faith journey, where we would rather watch what is happening in the church, rather than being a participant in what is happening in the church. It’s easy to sit and watch. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. We can’t fail if we don’t try. We don’t feel “spiritual” enough or knowledgeable enough to speak to someone about the love of Christ, so we stay silent.

Paul, in Romans 1:16-17, is making this statement “I am not ashamed of the Gospel,” because he knows the importance of this message—Salvation is here for EVERYONE for the Jews and the Gentiles. Everyone that he encounters needs to hear it, see it, and experience it. The Gospel is GOOD NEWS and we can’t be ashamed of it. We have to be bold in our faith. We can’t just observe. We MUST be participants in this Gospel mission!

Our mission as a student ministry at First Church is to “Be the Gospel to Those That Need the Gospel.” We have a mission as followers! It’s time to play in the game and not just be on the team.

A few questions to reflect on…

  • Where is God calling me to step out in faith and participate?
  • Who around me, whether at work or home, needs to hear the Good News of Christ?
  • How can you serve in your church?

 

Hypocrisy: Guilty Condemning the Guilty

Today’s Scripture is Matthew 7:1-5 (NCV),

Don’t judge other people, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.

Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, “Let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye”? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite! First take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend’s eye.

Today’s blog post is by Rita Bewry…

To judge” means “to condemn.” An earthly judge is given authority to condemn (pronounce judgement on) after hearing evidence in support of or against an accused.

Judgement under God’s Law is not delegated to anyone. God gave the Law, and He alone is its enforcer, because only He is uniquely qualified to judge righteously. God is without sin; He knows the facts because He is all-seeing and all-knowing; He is impartial, and He cannot be bought. Why then, does anyone on earth presume to be qualified to judge on moral issues.  All humanity has rebelled against God’s laws, and have been declared guilty before God – the guilty condemning the guilty, is hypocrisy.

We are also known to be harsh judges of people for non-moral reasons, such as outward appearance, race, culture and personal choices. This kind of judgement relies on stereotypes and other dehumanizing standards that have nothing to do with the worth of an individual. God must be particularly miffed when people-groups, as well as individuals, rather than celebrating the shared humanity of all His creatures, choose instead to be separate from, indifferent to, and belittling of others. Do we not get that God is not a boring God? That diversity is His idea?  There is work to be done. Breaking down barriers between individuals and groups must be a function of the church that is achieving God’s purposes in the world.

Although we are commanded not to judge; Jesus did not forbid His followers from making objective judgements. We are called to be discerning in order to distinguish between right and wrong and between truth and falsehood. In fact, we are encouraged to correct someone who is in error: hence Gal. 6:1Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again.” Of course, Christ would nudge us to pray for the revelation of our own sin and for forgiveness, before undertaking such a mission.

 

Community

Today’s Scripture is Romans 12:12-16,

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.”

Today’s blog post is by Will Newton, Director of Contemporary Worship,

I was blessed to be a part of an amazing Christian community in college – the FSU Wesley Foundation. For me, though, there was never a doubt that I would be involved in a faith community in college, because I was raised in a faithful family, and was considering a future in ministry. What always astonished me was the number of people who joined Wesley after not being involved in a Church.

Often, when asked why, they would respond with something like this, “I saw how much you all loved each other, and how you treated each other, and I had to be part of this community.”

The early Church saw their numbers growing daily, yet was subject to sporadic persecution, systemic criticism, and public mocking.

They didn’t have stellar preaching. Their building was non-existent. I’m relatively certain their pre-schools were horrible. What they had was a commitment to prayer, care for vulnerable and koinonia (fellowship, sharing, and communion.) And, this compelled people to give up their lives (literally) for Christ.

What Paul is urging into the Roman community is the same thing we must commit ourselves to today; rejoicing in our hope, suffering and rejoicing together, living in harmony, humility, compassion and mutual respect.

There is no programming, no preaching, no worship music, that will share Christ the same way that self-sacrificing, hope-filled Koinonia will. It is my firm belief, that where there is no sense of community in the Church, there is no Church. For the God that the Church seeks to embody, is, in fact, the same God who is in 3 in 1 – living in penultimate community. Our God is THE perfect union, even while being three persons.

How does our Church reflect that level of community? That level of Christian unity? Can we say that our life together as a congregation shows Jesus more than anything else we do?