What precedes Christian unity

People have proposed many different paths toward acquiring unity among believers. If we will pay close attention to Jesus’ teachings as well as to his apostles’ instructions, we will discover an oft overlooked powerful contributor.

Before people spill a drop of ink or type a single letter revealing our strategies for uniting Christians, we would do well to listen to the Messiah. Jesus prepared people to follow him by describing an essential attitude preceding kingdom service. Continue reading “What precedes Christian unity”

Looking for peace in all the wrong places

Peace is difficult to obtain. In fact, the only lasting peace available is in the spiritual realm. However, even there it must be properly focused. Peace is a possession of God and we’ll find it only on his terms.

Humans falsely think that physical peace brings spiritual peace. But that’s backwards. All measures of peace begin spiritually and then emanate out to the other areas of our lives. Continue reading “Looking for peace in all the wrong places”

Paul’s prescription for unity

Jesus prayed for unity among his followers.  In Ephesians, Paul described God’s plan to create unity through Christ.  Is there hope today for unity among believers?

When faced with the problem of religious division, Paul simultaneously undermined false values that foster divisiveness while cultivating principles promoting the unity God desires. His prescription boils down to three guidelines:

Continue reading “Paul’s prescription for unity”

Living by God’s standards

Making a difference spiritually requires that we eschew human standards and think as Scripture dictates. An ancient and fresh approach is needed. Men’s ideas don’t lead to heaven.

By human standards, the Tower of Babel was a visionary project ruined by a jealous God (Genesis 11:1-9). Spiritually, however, they were unified in voice, plan and motivation. The only thing missing was God.

Nothing spiritually positive can happen without the Lord (Ephesians 1:3). Babel is an excellent example of man’s naiveté’ and narrow-mindedness. Without God, we can’t accomplish anything (Psalm 127:1).  Continue reading “Living by God’s standards”

Adults do fight just like children

My wife and I are foster parents. I recently realized that after raising our own daughters and serving as a preacher for twenty years, I might have a chance of handling one of the most challenging aspects of such a position.

How can we help blend a group of unrelated young girls into a family? Girls are constantly shifting, building and destroying alliances. Hurts simmer and perceived slights rage. The battlefield can be very complicated. Continue reading “Adults do fight just like children”

Standing up even when it is unpopular

I admit it’s one of my pet peeves; I get frustrated when we (members of Churches of Christ) act as if all the spiritual heroes out there are from other fellowships. I am not suggesting that there aren’t admirable people out there, but I think we have a blind spot to our own heroes. David Lipscomb is one such hero. You may already be aware of his great influence as a preacher and Bible scholar, but did you know he took a principled stand against racial hate in his day?

When a black Christian was denied membership in a congregation in McKinney, Texas, Lipscomb roundly condemned the action. “We believe,” he declared, “it sinful to have two congregations in the same community for persons of separate and distinct races …” Why did he believe this? “God saves the negro equally with the white man when he believes in Christ and puts him on by being buried with him in baptism … I would as soon think of the worst blasphemer in the land … as a man or woman who would stand between that individual and his obedience to God. He sets at defiance God’s law, assumes to be greater than God, and is guilty of a presumptuous sin … for which we can hardly believe pardon can be found.” Continue reading “Standing up even when it is unpopular”

Church appreciation 101

Almost a decade ago a truck driver leaned on his dolly at my front door. In the midst of moving boxes into our house a short conversation ensued. “No, I don’t go to church anywhere. I don’t think that’s necessary. I might not be a saint, but I am OK with God.”

The apostle Paul, however, offers an entirely different view in Ephesians.  He would counsel us that spiritually independent free spirits are not in the stream of what God is doing in this world.

Continue reading “Church appreciation 101”

I was young and now I am, well, not

Sometimes it seems the church is being sliced and diced up by age. The “youth group” activities, the “Young Adults” Class (a very loosely defined group, I have noticed), the “Baby Boomers,” and so on. There is nothing wrong with arranging an activity specifically for young people, or women, or those of us who are more “mature.” Yet I have noticed that some try to exploit these differences in age by seeking to form a “church within a church,” or worse, by culling young people out of the church and forming their own group. We need each other!

Remember John addressing “children,” “fathers” and “young men” (1 John 2:12-14)? Remember Paul telling Titus to teach “older men,” “older women,” “younger women” and so on (Titus 2:1-6)? The church is a family, and we are not a family unless we work together and associate with each other. The church needs the idealism and energy of the young; it also needs the wisdom and reflection of the mature. Continue reading “I was young and now I am, well, not”