Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pruning Season?

I once had a pastor who used to always say, we practice Christianity, not church-inanity. He probably needed to remind himself of this as much as everyone else. I made an Instagram post about this idea recently, asking people to consider that this pandemic may be casting a light on this distinction. However, maybe the corona effect on the church goes even deeper than that.

I say that because many churches are utilizing online worship via social media to maintain social distance, and it is proving to be an unexpected source of outreach. Many guests are tuning in searching for comfort and guidance in these crazy times. People who would not necessarily feel comfortable walking into a brick and mortar church. Churches who are still giving 100% despite the limitations are finding they are reaching far more than they ever did with a traditional face to face service. Where the churches that are submitting to the less than ideal circumstances, and are just doing the bare minimum; they are not seeing these same benefits. There have also been reports of people watching 3-5 services per week. Giving regular churchgoers plenty of opportunities to see what else is out there.

Granted it’s too early to say for sure, but I would have never predicted what has happed several weeks ago. But what I am getting at is that before all this is over, the less enthusiastic churches may end up getting pruned from the vine, so to speak. Allowing the more fruitful parts to thrive all that much more. This may be a hard pill to swallow for some, but it may very well be necessary to get the church universal back on track again. By narrowing our focus, and consolidating our talents towards a common mission once again. So you may want to consider this post a fair warning.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. -John 15:1-8

God pruning off the deadwood
Click to enlarge

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A backwards question.

"With so much evil in the world, how can you believe in a loving God?" I'm sure we've all heard a nonbeliever utter something like that many a time. To me, this is a flimsy excuse for dismissing God. When you get down to it, if you will not put your hope in God the creator, then your only other option is humankind and what it creates. For example, if you put your hope in things like fame, fortune, possessions, comfort, convenience, praise, self, accomplishments, or relationships, it all comes back to mankind and its cultural expectations in one way or another. Yet there is no denying that all the evil in the world originates with selfish people. Specifically when people seek their own good, instead of following the will of God. Or sometimes people trying to misrepresent God for self-serving means. So why are we blaming the one individual who is not responsible for all the evil in the world, only to put our hope in what's actually to blame? To me, the question is backward. It is we the church that should be asking "With all the evil in the world perpetrated by humanity, how can you possibly put your faith in mankind?" The human race is the most unreliable thing on the planet if you ask me.

Granted, God could make all this evil go away if he made us all puppets, but that wouldn't actually mean anything. Nothing we do, good or evil, would have any relevance at all if we did not have freewill. People may like to self-delude themselves through forced submission, but an all-knowing God will not. The strange thing about humanity's relationship with freewill is we all want it for ourselves, but we don't necessarily want others to have it when it's an inconvenience to us. So we expect God to change the world to suit us, yet we ourselves refuse to change. Consider just how much of our energy is spent on trying to take away the freewill of others, just so we don't have to change ourselves. Just another example of how unfair humankind really is.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? -Jeremiah 17:9

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.-Psalm 33:17

a man angry at God for allowing his own freewill to hurt him
click to enlarge