Christians are Hate -Filled Hypocrites and other Lies you’ve been Told

I was recently reading through the bookOrganic Outreach for Churches” by Kevin G. Harney. This book is all about how churches can naturally and organically reach people around them. One of the points he makes is that our outreach is stifled if we do not love the church. After all, why would we invite others to be a part of something that we really aren’t that fond of ourselves?

But how can we really get excited over the Church when every time we turn around we are seeing a story about a Christian leader caught in a scandal, or a group of Christians picketing a funeral, or researchers that claim that the church is declining at a rapid rate and we are losing all our young people and no one likes Christians. We don’t want to be a part of something like that much less invite others to join us Its like when one of my brothers or sisters would pull a forgotten Tupperware container out of the fridge and upon opening it would exclaim, “Ugh that stinks … here you smell!”

Um no thanks!?

Is the church perfect? Well of course not, but are there great reasons to love her? Absolutely! Here is the thing, we know the church isn’t perfect but did you know that Christianity is doing much better than we are led to believe?

Kevin Harney suggested in “Organic Outreach another book. A book that sounded incredibly interesting. A book that for the time being (until I read something else) has become my favorite book.

“Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…And Other Lies You’ve Been Told” By Bradley R.E. Wright.

This book is full of great information and sprinkled with just enough sarcastic humor to keep it fun. He looks at multiple assumptions and popular opinions about Christianity and looks at the data to determine if it is true.

To put it simply – We can all calm down —- things are NOT as bad as we have been sometimes led to believe.

  • Christianity is not on the brink of extinction.
  • We are not losing all of our young people
  • Christian’s do love each other and we are not just as sinful as the world.

While all of these things run contrary to the sensationalist headlines that would lead us to believe Christianity is on its way out and we are all hate-filled hypocrites, this good report shouldn’t be a surprise to us.

It shouldn’t be surprising that God’s church is thriving.
It shouldn’t be surprising that people’s hearts and lives are truly transformed by the power of Christ – after all, didn’t he transform your life and weren’t you added to his kingdom?

 

Wright writes, “ This positive message is very different from what we often hear from Christian leaders, teachers, and researchers. Their message can go something like this: American Christianity is rapidly dying, and Christians are immoral, disliked, and not very good at being Christians, So…go invite your friends to join us.”

If you have $6 and a little bit of time jump on Amazon and get a copy and perhaps it will help you go with confidence to your friends, families, and neighbors inviting them to join the Christian movement that is sweeping the world and changing lives for the better.

Grass and Gardens

This year my family and I planted a garden. This is a first for us and we are excited to see how it all turns out. One reason that we planted a garden is we like vegetables — and what better than garden fresh vegetables! Another reason I think starting a garden would be beneficial for me is for the spiritual lessons that can be learned and illustrated with the process of gardening. Take a minute sometime and scan through your Bible from the Old Testament to the new and you will find many many illustrations and lessons that use the process of planting and growing and harvesting as a backdrop or illustration. Jesus used agricultural imagery frequently in his teachings and yes the concepts can be understood even if you have never put a seed in soil and watered it but how much more impactful it is if you know exactly – from experience- what Jesus is talking about.  So I planted a garden.

I was poking around in my garden yesterday. Sometimes poking around in it for me simply means looking at it and being amazed at how fast everything seemed to pop up. looking at the bright green growing from the dirt with excitement and anticipation of what is to come. But yesterday I noticed some weeds growing in the garden very small ones almost unnoticeable. At first, I wasn’t even sure if they were weeds or something I had planted. However, after careful examination, I saw that these little green leaves that were popping up didn’t look anything like any of the other plants. Looking at them closer I saw that looked the same as the grass in my yard. In fact, if this little weed had been growing 10 feet away I would have called it grass rather than a weed, but it wasn’t growing 10 feet away it was in my garden and it had friends so they were weeds.

Isn’t it interesting that on one side of the 12′ tall cedar board that defines the perimeter of my garden the grass is natural, expected, understood, even perhaps desirable, but on the other side – on the inside- of the garden the weed is invasive, unnatural, not welcome, dangerous and needs to be removed.

That is a picture of what holiness is.

Holiness is a church word. We talk about it and we say we want it in our lives but what is it?

To be Holy means to be set apart — set apart for a particular purpose.

When it comes to my backyard that 4×8 space is set apart for a purpose. The purpose of producing vegetables anything within that space that works contrary to that purpose is unwanted. It is defiling. Even a blade of grass that grows anywhere else in the yeard would be normal — here in the garden, it is not normal.

God has made us (those who have put our faith and trust in Christ) Hol. He has set us apart for a particular purpose and that purpose is to Produce fruit that glorifies the father (John 15). All around us, there are things that society would call normal. Things that are expected. things that are desired. Things that it would be strange for someone to heat us calling a weed because to them it looks like grass.

However, if we bring those things into our lives- the garden God has planted- it would be detrimental to our purpose it would be defiling. When we discover these things they must be removed.

May God bless you this week. May you continually be made more and more into the image of Christ and as you remain in him may he produce the fruits of godliness inyour life. Amen

Sluuuuuuuuuuurp.

If you are a moviegoer you may have experienced this. The movie is coming to a climactic point.

  •  The man is about to profess his love
  • Batman and Superman are about to find out that their moms are both named Martha
  • Spiderman is about to find out it was his girlfriend’s dad all along
  • The evil professor is about to profess faith in Christ.

Then you hear from the seat next to you or the row above you, “SLLLUUUUUURRRRRRRPPP!” Someone trying to force the last drops of Mountain Dew up the straw and into their mouth and as they do so the air and liquid fight for space in the straw and the noise of the battle reverberates across the theater. I mean they have to get it all out of there because there are no free refills at the movies. The most annoying part is not the noise that is being made, but you know just as well as I do( because at one point or another the sound of that slurp came from our own straws) that the person struggling to get those last drops of sweet green liquid is experiencing no hydrating satisfaction. They are only getting a few drops of watered down soda because the cup is empty.

Have you ever felt like that? Empty. Trying so hard to keep going but there are only a few watered down drops left in the cup. The only use it has is to distract others and frustrate the drinker. This happens to the best of us and it seems to happen more and more and more. Because we are always on the run, always have a meeting or an event on the schedule. Always working more hours to have more money. Always drinking from a cup expecting an endless supply of “go” only to be let down.

Take some time this week — and every week.  Slow down. Rest. Trust God. Go to the counter and get a free refill – the movie theater won’t give you that, but God will.

 

Matthew11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.