Three Things I’ve Noticed in Quarantine

For the past month or so, most of us who are not “essential” workers have gotten to know our houses very well. Every phase of our lives is being done differently right now. That includes our spiritual lives. What have you learned about your spiritual life from being in quarantine? In James’ letter, the author leaps right out of the gate by making this statement “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  Trials, like the one we are presently going through, are used by God to forge and refine our faith. Because of that, we are to find joy in trials. Here are three observations I have made as I’ve looked at the way followers of Jesus have responded to quarantine. 1. The government is not God. A lot of us have looked to the government and its leaders to provide answers, a plan, and support. But we see, regardless of political affiliation, definitive answers are in short supply. Information, untainted by agenda, is hard to come by. The government is not all-knowing, nor is it all-powerful. God supplied his people manna every day. The government is sending $1200. An unprecedented amount of money was spent in a relief bill, but it will not meet the monthly need of most households. The government does not have unlimited resources. A big part of our developing perseverance is being sure we have faith in the right thing. God wants to be the focus of our faith. Also in the first chapter of James, we...

Being Hated

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. – 1 John 3:13 How does the thought of begin hated for following Jesus make you feel? John says not to be surprised if the world hates us. Reflecting the image of God will elicit a response from a world that does not understand and must confront their own sense of shame. It was this sort of shame that incited Cain to hate and kill his brother Abel. Looking around at the church in our culture, we do seem genuinely surprised when the world pushes back against our beliefs. One response we offer is to compromise. There are attempts to make the truth that we are immersed in more palatable. This effort to be liked and win affirmation voids the power of freedom and transformation that Christ Himself promises. There are many tough truths in the gospel, whitewashing them or saying that they don’t apply to modern culture takes away the cross that some must carry to be conformed into the image of Christ. People are being held back in captivity by compromise. Another response is to intentionally drum up hatred. As if Jesus and John saying to expect resistance means that we need to produce it ourselves. So we see a version of “in your face” Christianity that seems very far from the example that Christ demonstrated. This warning about being hated is not to be used as a way to build identity. Every effort is to be made to live in peace with everyone. Yet this goes hand in hand with holiness (Hebrews 12:14), because that...

A Church Afraid of Brokenness

There has been controversy surrounding a large, corporate, mega-church in the news. I first became aware of it upon seeing this tweet in my timeline: Churches make mistakes & those mistakes can deeply hurt people. It's great to see a church owning up to her mistakes. http://t.co/6HmgKMvJrU — Luke Norsworthy (@lukenorsworthy) May 29, 2015 Curious, I read a few articles to catch up. If you are not familiar with what has been happening at The Village Church and want to be simply Google “the village church apology” and you too can get caught up. But doing that is not necessary for where this post is going. So I replies with a tweet of my own (please excuse my typos): @lukenorsworthy @CTmagazine it would have been even better to see a church on up to its before being called out in the national media. — Scott Perkins (@theperkster) May 29, 2015 It indeed would have been a breath of fresh air to see a church own up to its mistakes before they became a national issue. But that seems to be the business-like environment prominent in our church culture. Jesus is the product to be sold. In order to show the product works, there needs to be more and more ‘fixed’ people. This in turn creates a church that does not know what to do with the reality of brokenness. We are broken image bearers of our Creator. While we are being sanctified in Christ our old nature and new nature do battle (see Gal 5:17). One of our most beloved hymns declares this truth… Prone to wander, Lord, I feel...

Answer the Phone

Ours is an age of media and instant communication. There is really no way to avoid that fact, particularly if you are in a sector that interacts with people. Like churches. Virtually every one of us carries in our pockets or on our hips the capacity to communicate with almost everyone anywhere we are or they are. The phone has become an incredibly powerful tool. Without saying so explicitly, this sets up several expectations in our culture of communication. One of these expectations is the efficacy of the communication. We have a lower and lower tolerance for not being able to reach someone on the other end of the line. Businesses understand accessibility. While I don’t think churches should be run like they are a business, those leading churches should understand accessibility better than anyone else. So, it is within the culture of communication that I have found several curious trends when contacting churches. It seems that many churches are not easy to communicate with and might be losing credibility because of a lack of awareness of what they are communicating by their lack of awareness of communication expectations. Each of these are real things I have encountered. Multiple times. And they are frustrating for the people you are claiming you want to serve. Avoid these at all costs. No answer during office hours. Answering machines are an amazing tool. But when the outgoing message tells me that I’ve called during office hours, yet no one has answered the phone, that communicates indifference. Now I realize you may have to run to the bathroom, or be engaging someone in...

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