Friday, November 16, 2007

Go Sunday 1

One of the things we're going to be doing as a church is taking one Sunday out of the month and going out in to the community with random acts of kindness and radical acts of service. There are many reason we are doing this. I'm going to take the next few blogs to talk about what has lead us to this decision.

Reason 1) Many Christians have almost no depth of contact with non-christians. Serving brings us back into contact with those outside of our faith.
Reason 2) Servants focus on others. That's what a servant does, their place is to look to the needs of those they serve. So for a Christ follower serving redirects our focus to what God is focused on-those sheep who are not yet in the fold.

Probably the first thing that God used to lead me into a new understanding of serving others was the book The Church of Irresistable Influence by Robert Lewis. I first read this book about several years ago while I was on staff at a church in Oklahoma. Lewis' premise in the book is that the church has become an island with its own customs and traditions that those outside don't understand. These differences become a barrier to people understanding the good news of God's love. So serving the community becomes a "bridge" that covers the distance to a world from which we have become isolated. The book changed the way I viewed the church. It helped me recognize both the churches lack of contact with those far from God, and our lack of focus on those far from God.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The AFA vs. Mrs Fields revisited

I recently received the following response to my blog on the AFA and the Mrs Fields company.

There isn't bullying going on, Mrs. Fields expressed their opinion by saying no to the simple words Christmas, we're just expressing our opinion. They don't want to offend A hand full of athiests? But are willing to offend God and those who believe. Yep, I am a bit offended, and Christmas isn't for Athiests, this was our holiday, and nobody forced them into joining, now they have pushed their way in, and are changing the rules. You put Christians and pansies in the same boat and you are wrong.

As the comment was anonymous I can't respond to just that person which would be my preference so I'll throw it up here and maybe generate some more discussion.

First I regret using the the word bullying as it appears the word has distracted this reader from the questions that followed. However I don't feel the word is entirely inappropriate. The AFA has asked thousands of people to stop buying this companies products unless they put the word Christmas on their packing and in their promotions. They didn't just ask them to express their disappointment in a letter, they ask them to put fiscal pressure on the company to do something. That's more than expressing an opinion.
Webster's Defines Bullying as forcing one's way aggressively or by intimidation.
I consider several thousand letters threating to ban your product aggressive.
This week the AFA sent me a letter telling how the pressure has paid off and that the Mrs Fields company has added Christmas items to their website.

But I come back to the questions I posed in the original post. How does this campaign draw people (the real people who work at Mrs. Fields) closer to God? Does it show them His love? If the word Christmas appears on a package will someone see it and decide to give their lives to follow Christ?

My hope is simply that we will live following Christ's example. Remember how He treated the woman divorced several times over and living in adultery, the prostitute and the thieving tax collector. It was to these people that He brought grace, love and understanding. Now remember who he reserved His greatest anger and harshest words for. It was for those who knew and feared God but didn't live according to His spirit.

I have four children and it sometimes scares me what they see, hear and are exposed to by our rapidly changing culture. It's uncomfortable living in a post-christian nation. However, if I let my fear drive my actions I will lash out at a culture I can't control. But if I let the Spirit drive me, I see people God loves and Christ Died to redeem–instead of seeing their actions, attitudes or behaviors I see people separated from our loving God and facing an eternity without Him.

So again I ask, how does this campaign and others like it draw people into a redemptive relationship with Christ?

If you find this all a bit challenging to your standard way of thinking (as I did when God first started reshaping my thinking on this), I encourage you to read this series of articles by Denis Haack.

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