Sunday, August 24, 2014

Praying about Current Events, "God's Not Dead" Bible Study, Getting Out of the Way

I have three items for my write-up on this morning’s church service.

1. During the children’s part of the service, the pastor and his puppet, Jake, were addressing what Christians can do in response to the problems in the world. The pastor was talking about the slaughter of Christians, so I assumed that he was speaking about what ISIS is doing. The pastor said that we can pray.

Do I buy that? Soon before the Iraq War started, a relative of mine said, “We won’t have a war. God won’t allow there to be a war!” But God did allow that war to take place, at great cost of American and Iraqi lives.

I do not know if prayer will make things better. I do believe, though, that I should pray for my leaders, that they might make a good decision. I want for the slaughter of Christians to be stopped. But I don’t want for Americans to be entangled in another hopeless quagmire. There may be a proper way to go about this: to form alliances so that we can defeat ISIS. I just hope our leaders make decisions that turn out all right.

2. My church will begin a new Bible study. It will be a curriculum about the God’s Not Dead movie. The movie is about a Christian student who challenges an atheist professor.

For a variety of reasons, I do not plan on attending this study. But I can somewhat sympathize with my church for choosing this particular Bible study curriculum to go through. More than once at my church, I have heard people complain about atheists. They may encounter atheists on Facebook. One person referred to a bumper sticker he saw that said “I will not think in your church, if you do not pray in my school.” He said this bumper sticker was “not cool,” and he lamented that Christians are not equipped to challenge atheists. My church may be going through this curriculum to learn about arguments that would hopefully make Christianity look credible to the outside world.

They will learn those arguments. The thing is, will they also learn (if not from the curriculum, then from their interactions) that atheists have their own answers to those arguments? Maybe, in which case the Christians may choose to dig deeper, or they may write the atheists off as stubborn and blind to the truth. Who knows what will happen.

The movie, according to my understanding, depicts the atheist professor as one who was mad at God because his mom died when he was young. I hope those who go through this Bible study don’t assume that all atheists are like that.

3. The pastor said in his sermon that he was reading a book about the Welsh revival. He quoted one of its central figures, who said that he was impacted by the revival, rather than causing it. God was the one initiating the revival, whereas the alleged “central figure” was merely caught up in what God was doing. It was all about God. On a similar note, the pastor told about a singer who consulted a faith healer, and the faith healer told her that it is not about him but Jesus Christ. And the pastor told the story of how Norman Vincent Peale and his wife received a timely, unexpected donation so they could continue publishing their faith-affirming periodical, Guideposts. They attributed that to God.

I thought of a Christian radio program that I occasionally listen to. The host was advertising a worship retreat in the woods, and he said, “Don’t worry, I’m not some performer doing tricks! It works better when I get out of the way and let God do his work!” I find that sentiment to be profound. I am someone who is thirsty for glory. I want people to notice and appreciate ME. And there is nothing wrong with that, as long as that sentiment doesn’t go overboard. But I admire those who are able to see themselves as part of something bigger, who are so caught up in God that they are willing to step out of the way so God can get the glory. They do not lose out in doing this, for God loves them, and they want others to experience God’s love, as well.

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