Must Read Monday: Is truth deadMarch 27, 2017
TIME Magazine released a new cover story, asking “Is truth dead?” The cover hearkens back to the 1966 cover asking “Is God dead?” If 51 years ago Americans wondered if God was dead, then it’s no great surprise today Americans are wondering if truth may be dead as well. Handling the truth is what we do as Christians. We know the truth, the truth has set us free and the truth is what we hold in our hands when we read the Bible. Listen to The Reconnect discussion of this here or read more here.
Can religious charities take the place of the welfare state? — The Atlantic
We are entering the season where our elected officials debate and hammer out the government budget. The budget is actuality is a vision for the role and function of government. If government programs serving the poor “step back” as the Trump budget proposes, then who will step up? For most of the last century, government has been the primary means by which we seek poverty alleviation. But should it be? What about faith-based organizations? Right now, according to this article, the amount religious organizations spend on helping the needy is “miniscule” compared to government programs. But historically, in the early 1900s, churches and religious organizations were the primary actors fighting poverty. We interviewed Brian Fikkert on The Reconnect on how the church can regain this role. For a deeper look on the history of poverty-alleviation in the US, see the book The Tragedy of American Compassion.
Cuba is still a Communist state, but some changes in law and practice indicate more openness to freedom of religion. As the article states, tensions remain and the vagueness in the law is reason for concern. But despite that, with the new openness, churches are thriving!
Why Baylor and South Carolina’s post-game prayer matters— Athletes in Action
For a brief moment in March Madness, God — not the game— was the focus. Baylor and South Carolina joined together in prayer following their Sweet 16 game. We do not know the motivation of the huddle or what was said. But Athletes in Action shared why this still matters:
“[A]ny time the gospel gets put on display, anytime there is a recognition, a moment of silence, a tip of the hat in the direction of transcendent realities, we can be encouraged for the reminder that the kingdom of heaven is indeed spreading, imperceptibly making its way toward a time when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”
After great pain, where is God?— Op-ed, NYT
Reading this is, in itself, an exercise in empathy. As I read Peter Wehner’s personal stories of his friends, I was reminded of so many of my own family members, colleagues, friends, and sisters and brothers in Christ around the world whose stories I know through others. With the advent of social media we have access to what can seem like overwhelming information about a lot of raw pain. I was reminded as I read of my cousin who continues to serve as a medical missionary in Togo with her four children even after her husband died there a year ago of an infectious disease. I was reminded of Dana’s parents who we all know are numb after leukemia took her life. Jill, who lives in chronic pain; Barnabas, whose wife decided to give up on their marriage; Matthew who is beginning to see what others see when they look at his deformed hands and misshapen head. My heart breaks.
Like Peter Wehner, I have friends who have buried children who have taken their own lives or have lost them to addiction. And that doesn’t begin to address all that is wrong in so much of the world that is at war, in privation, or where people are living in captivity under the oppression of others. I cry out to God to make it all better but I know better than to ask “why.” I know why. Anyone who has read and received the Bible as God’s Word knows why. The why is sin. Before sin entered the world there was no cancer, no divorce, no sex slavery, no abortion, no rape, no murder, no war, no famine, no death. Everything was literally and absolutely “good.”
God’s redemptive plan is to restore that reality and He has already done everything necessary for the working out of His redemptive will. Between now and then is what I call the “mean” time. This is the time when the meanness of sin is evident all around us. It is also evident within us. My hope for the mean time is no different than my hope for the fullness of time. My hope is Jesus. If you want to know where God is when you’re suffering, the answer is Jesus.
Hebrews 12 calls us, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”