Over the past week alone, I’ve read posts about leading evangelical pastors excommunicating fast food restaurants, celebrities copyrighting Christian catch-phrases, secular businesses acting as Christian entities on issues of health care and birth control, and seemingly endless infighting among factions of Christians on a wide range of minute issues, just to name a few.
As a blogger, I feel almost compelled to follow the latest negative happenings within the Church so that I can be poised to write a stinging rebuke or offer my “balanced” perspective as a “voice of reason” on whatever topic or event is causing the buzz. (As if!) So often, because much of my focus is on the negative, controversial, and divisive issues that are occurring in Christianity, I find myself getting very cynical, discouraged, and burnt out.
It is so tiring to continually read and write about the latest scandal taking place in evangelicalism. It’s not only draining, it’s profoundly unhealthy. Because when social media becomes an echo chamber of the negative opinions and critiques on the dysfunctional happenings taking place within Christianity, I begin to wonder what the point of all of this really is. When Christ’s followers (myself included) cannot seem to get along and only seem to be making negative press over petty controversies, I begin to think that maybe there may be a more effective way of changing the world for the better then trying to do it through this messed up group of people called the Church.
But then, I look closer.
It normally takes a lot more work and precision to dig beneath the negative press and latest debacles among Christians, but when I do, I am often deeply encouraged by what I find. There are stories being published every day that witness to how God is using the Church of Jesus to renew our weary world. There are tales of redemption, reconciliation, healing of divides, forgiveness, charity, and grace that most of us will never see, either because they literally never get posted because they don’t have the “Like” or comment potential or because our focus has been marred to the degree that we only ever see the negative. If the latter is the case, which I think is the reality for many of us, we will begin to think that this whole Kingdom project of Jesus is failing. Our own faith will begin to dry and we will find ourselves deeply discouraged and demotivated to press on.
We, the Church, are called to be God’s primary means of redemption to our world. It is through our love, our work, our faith, that God can and does subversively reestablish his holy order on earth as it is in heaven. It is through our commitment to the common good of all humanity that Christ is exalted and salvation bursts forth like the dawn to the world. I may be naive, but even with all of the craziness going on in the Church these days; I still believe we have the potential to flip this world upside down in the best way possible. And as it turns out, we actually are doing that every single day in communities around the world. But most of us never hear a word about it.
So in order to combat the cynicism and exclusively negative coverage of Christianity in social media this month, I wanted to provide you with a few recent news stories that will reignite your faith and passion for the Kingdom and reassure you that God is still working, even if we never hear about it. I encourage you to take time to read through these articles and then repost them to help encourage the broader body of Christ on social media that God is still at work and there is still good reason to have hope in Christ and his powerful Gospel!
I never have the feeling that I am going to bring God to the Pride Parades I attend by way of the I’m Sorry Campaign, because God is already present and moving through those who gather. Being the hands and feet of Christ are important, but being his arms to hug, his shoulders to lean on, and his ears to hear the stories of others, that too is very important.
“I like to dream of a church that lives the compassion of Jesus,” Pope Francis told more than 7,000 priests, religious, catechists and parish council members from the Diocese of Rome.
The church, the body of Christ in the world, is one of the few groups I have encountered that is able to respond to this sadness, this hidden loneliness. The church, at its best, is a community where we encounter the depth of God’s love—the depth of God’s love for ourselves and others. (So this one is technically not a news story. But its encouraging)
Soccer camp. No. Basketball camp. No. Peace camp. Yes! Peace Players, an Chicago church’s unique summer day camp, recently schooled kids in non-violence as an alternative to war.
Young Christian leaders from Asia believe that by engaging in interfaith dialogue, they can help bring justice and peace to Asia, a region where religious plurality can be both a blessing and a challenge.
Beyonce‘s pastor Rudy Rasmus recently revealed to local Houston TV station KHOU, that she made a very generous donation of $7 million dollars to her home church St. John’s United Methodist in Houston.
In Woodlawn, on the South Side of Chicago, a crowd has gathered on the vacant gravel lot across the street from New Beginnings Church. Women line up under canvas tents to sign their names on bright pink enrollment cards, pledging to spend a few hours every Saturday afternoon on the most dangerous corners of the city.
There you have it. 8 compelling news stories that remind us that God is still at work through the Church and that even when we lose our focus because of Pastors “Farewell-ing” fast-food restaurants, Jesus is still actively moving through his people to bring salvation to every corner of the earth. And that’s good news.
Do you know of any GOOD news stories about about how the Church is advancing the Kingdom in your community? Please share them below!