We seek the church of relevance
Highlands TodayA generation or two ago, community life centered on the church. Attendance did not necessarily equal spirituality; for many, it was just something to do. Most of us today do not need more entertainment. Tradition is fast losing its hold. We prefer cyberspace. Is being physically present at another meeting relevant? No, not if it's just another meeting.
Published: September 3, 2009
Published: September 3, 2009
A physicist from Florida says his mother calls and asks: "Have you found God yet?" He works at Fermilab, just outside Chicago, where they search for the Higgs, or "God particle," a subatomic stuff believed foundational to everything around us. When Europe surged ahead of America on this in September 2008, the lab began round-the-clock, speed-of-light smashing of protons against anti-protons in sealed underground tunnels, replicating the Big Bang Theory, attempting to isolate life's originating spark. Fermilab's director, Pier Oddone, said: "We still don't understand the most basic things" ("The Race..." Stephen Fried, Parade, July 26, 2009).
Christians believe God is the originating spark, that God is known through Jesus Christ, that the Bible is God's manual, that each believer and all believers united are The Church, independent of denominations or groupings. We see every reason to bring what we believe, or, more accurately, to "be" what we believe to the world around us. As John Wesley said: "The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion."
The Wall Street Journal recently printed its "Lessons of the Financial Crisis, One Year Later." Two points were: "Factor into any investment equation a worst-case scenario" and "Don't get too gloomy." This is a biblical prescription. Christians sign on to not let faith waiver regardless of hard times.
Faith has substance (Hebrew 11:1). Michael Gerson wrote in "The Libertarian Jesus Myth" that "Jesus was not a political activist" but following his teachings affects the political world. David Toma, the inspiration behind the TV show "Baretta," a tough former detective, has said that our problems are spiritual, but he works in the present among addicts and gangs. In July, 50 United Methodist Church bishops pledged to cut their pay by 4 percent in solidarity with others hurt by the economic downturn.
Pierre Nkurunziza, a former Hutu rebel leader, came to Christ after reading a Bible from cover to cover. Elected as president of Burundi in August 2005, he is the only one to hold that office and escape assassination during his first three months. To his political party, he says: "Everything we do we start by praying and end by praying because we have to remember to put God before everything" (Charisma, August 2009).
That's why some meet together as part of The Church. We must. We experience what D.L. Moody defined: "Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man." A 2,000-year-old directive speaks to our hearts: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25 NIV). If it is a meeting of The Church, it is not entertainment but eternity. Nothing is as relevant.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.