Must Read Monday: Curing Loneliness, Venezuela, the Philippines, and moreJanuary 28, 2019
It was the practice of Jesus to go to a deserted place to be alone with the Father every morning. Paul sought time alone in the wilderness after his conversion, just to be alone with God. Time alone with the Lord is a spiritual practice and discipline but the Christian life is intended to be a life lived in genuine restored relationship not only with God, but with the self and others. The Christian life is a life in community, in the fellowship of the body of Christ, in the family of God (the Church), and in shared acts of witness and service to others. If so many people are so lonely, what does that say about the effectiveness of Christians today in identifying and reaching out to those who are disconnected? And, if among those who identify as lonely we can assume there are some who are Christian, what does that say about the health of the local church and the individual experience of discipleship of those sisters and brothers?
There’s not a pill for any of that, but there is the Gospel and the Church and genuine fellowship.
Three headlines to read as we #PrayTheNews
The Philippines: Philippines church bombing town on lockdown as ISIS threat emerges
In each and all of these situations we pray with and for the families of the victims and we pray for the witness of the local church, that Christians might be a refuge and hope in the midst of terror, disaster, privation and war. Ideas have consequences and bad ideas (ISIS, cutting corners and ignoring safety reports, Socialism, etc) have particularly cruel consequences for people just trying to live. Let us extend whatever aid we can to bolster our brothers and sisters in Christ on the front lines of each of these situations and those in a myriad other places around the globe – and around the corner – in need of real, substantive redemption.
What does it mean to identify with a particular political party? What if others in that party don’t see you as “one of them?” Apply that same question to those who identify as Christians but who openly deny the historic tenets of the Christian faith and much of what the Bible says. Are they Christians just because they claim to be? Who has the authority to judge that reality one way or the other?
What is your primary identity in the cultural conversations of our day? Is your first inclination to answer with partisan political talking points or with the application of the mind of Christ to the matters of the day?
What if I answered the identity question by telling you that I’m a Christian. How would you respond to that?
What does it mean to subordinate everything, including politics, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
(If you’re feeling defensive right now, re-read these questions. There is no partisan insinuation here. There is no leaning toward the Dems nor the GOP in what is asked here. So, if you’re feeling defensive, what does that tell you about you?)
Consider the opening verse of the book of James.
What do these tell us about this country and what do they tell us about the people who put together the list?
What monuments are worth preserving?
If you were to make America’s greatest hits list in terms of places to visit, what would be on your list? I asked a group of young people, “What is the one landmark or place you think of when I say America?” I got answers ranging from the Washington Monument to Disney World, their favorite football or baseball stadiums to Niagara Falls, Times Square, and the iconic Hollywood sign on the hill to the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake city. One astute young woman described a town square she’d seen on a visit to the Northeast. She said, “On one side of the town square was a church with a sign inviting everyone and advertising shelter for the homeless, a clinic for the sick, and fellowship for the visitors. On another side was the public library and across from that the city hall. The fourth side was a beautiful green space with walking paths and benches and a playground. I remember thinking, “This is America. This is where I want to live. This is who I want to be.” Another student offered up the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and described his visit there. America is beautiful – and complicated – and in need of redemption and witnesses to it.