What makes a Christian? Glad you asked. That is a wonderful question in our present American and Western Culture. Does going to a “church” service once or twice a month make a person a Christian? Does renouncing all worldly happiness and becoming a Catholic nun or priest make one a better Christian than others? Does picketing abortion or signing a petition against same sex marriage make a person a Christian? What about feeding the poor and working to eradicate world hunger? That’s a good one that both my right and lefty friends like. Does that make one a Christian? What’s on your list of your personal requirements for being a “Christian” in the West? I wonder how the Christians in persecuted China and other parts of the world would answer that question.
Going back 2000 years, the first question was probably not, “what makes a Christian” but rather, “who are these people who live so differently?” Answer, “Those are the folks who follow Christ” and thus the term was born. In sermonizing for Sunday, I camped out a bit on Acts 11:26b which states that the “Disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Looking at the greater context what we find is that this group of early believers were so marked by the character of Christ that people took note. Some scholars debate as to whether this was a term of endearment or ridicule. To me that doesn’t really matter a whole lot. The point is that these people were just doing life seriously devoted to Jesus and change happened. Who were these first Christians in Antioch? From the text here are a few points to ponder. (more…)
After our break for Mother’s Day we’re jumping back into our study on “Discovering Authentic Church” this Sunday at the Crossings. Over the next two weeks we’ll be looking at the two major Churches highlighted in the book of Acts. The first one is the original Church in Jerusalem that is described primarily in chapters 2:42-47 and 4:32-37. The second Church in consideration is the Antioch fellowship found in Acts 11:19-30 and 13:1-4. Both of these Churches leave a lot that we can learn from today. However, the goal is not to legalistically or mindlessly follow each point in detail, but rather to look and learn from the overall picture of what God did and how they responded to Him in the first century. As we begin to wind down this series, I really believe that the authenticity of the first century Church really can be a reality in the 21st century today. So for everyone who lives in the Northwest Houston area, be sure to grab a friend and come by one of our services. For everyone; how are you going to “BE CHURCH” this week? In the mean time, check out this guy whose life was changed by “Discovering Authentic Church.”
I have a love hate relationship with politics. Mostly hate. But yes, there are times when I get all hot and bothered and want to run for office. Then I calm down and get refocused on eternal matters. The grab for me has never been on issues like taxation or economic policies, but rather the social issue hot buttons. Today with all the comments in dissent of North Carolina voting to ban Gay Marriage coupled with President Obama’s announcement on his position of Gay Marriage is just another one of those examples. As a follower of Christ I have to remind myself that America is not my first home, the Kingdom of Heaven is. But we do live in the here and now and intersect with the world around us. Even the first Christ followers addressed social ills of their day. During the Roman Empire people would leave unwanted babies at the city dumps. Today, we abort unwanted babies. The Christians in the first century would save those babies from the trash heaps and care for them. Today Christians can work to stop the killing of infants and support women with unwanted pregnancies in ways other than abortion.
Ok, I’ve wrestled with the question of how to surf the wave of social issues on this blog for a long time. On one hand I don’t want to get distracted from our mission. On the other hand I don’t want to pretend that the Bible or Kingdom citizens don’t have anything to say on the social issues. The fact of the matter is that the Bible is very clear on these issues. The problem is that at times Christians can be “jerks for Jesus” and blow the whole discussion apart even before it is started. The real answer for followers of Christ is first to pray, and then speak the truth in love. Are there Christians who are called to run for office and attack these issues in public? Yes, I believe so. But the real answer is one of heart change and not policy development.
So with that I’ll make a few statements to consider on the present social issue of the day. (more…)