Category Archives: Unity

WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Compassion has no place in the natural order of the world which operates on the basis of necessity. Compassion opposes this order and is therefore best thought of as being in some way supernatural.
~John Berger

By compassion we make others’ misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also.
~Thomas Browne, Sr.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion… – Paul to the Colossians (3:12).

There is still goodness in our nation and world. With the exception of a major disaster, this good news often doesn’t make it to page one and it isn’t particularly titillating. With evil so recently rampant, this is heartening information! So many calamities: earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, floods, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes and hurricanes! In each case, multitudes of people have thrown themselves into the devastation to salve the suffering of their fellow human victims.

It really doesn’t matter how culpable one has been by building on a floodplain, too near a volcano, in the midst of fire-prone forest or bush, over a fault line, or on a hurricane-prone coast…we help anyway.  After all, few of us get to choose where we work and live.  Who of us, furthermore, is innocent of making a poor choice? In my own case, there is no way I can, at this stage and in my present situation, flee from tornado danger. Someday, God forbid, one may twist and tear through my neighborhood.

But here’s what I know: if it ever happens, the good people of my city, state and nation will rush to our aid as we would theirs. They will be driven by the compassion and empathy characteristic of human beings created in the image of God.

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Filed under Altruism, Blessings, Christlikeness, Community, Current Events, Good & Evil, morality, Natural Disaster, Suffering, Unity

The Preacher/Pastor System

Our struggles in our Western/European expressions of Christianity are due largely to innovations and inventions forming an inner and outer corrosive crust slowing down the flow of our faith.  Sects, denominations and cults are the portions visible to any observer.  As the layers of corrosion built up over the centuries, the major result is division and the inevitable infighting that follows. Trying to chip away or dissolve this inner and outer crust most often proves futile and downright dangerous to life and limb.  We love our respective crusts!  We love them in spite of the damage they do to our witness.

One of the major additions to this crust is the “pastor system.” Pastors, as revealed in the New Testament, were not paid professional public speakers in residence at each congregation under the supervision of, and answerable to, a group of men (and, in some instances, women) serving as a board of directors. In most cases, the “pastor” (“preacher” in some traditions) functions at the pleasure of this board.  He does all the preaching, teaches classes, and officiates at funerals, weddings, and fulfills other duties as outlined by the board. Predictably, it doesn’t work well in most cases. It doesn’t work because it is an alien concept not found in Scripture.

When I became a preacher, an older veteran warned me to remember that I was working with people with all their strengths, weaknesses, foibles, sins, joys, sorrows, crises, victories and failures. Here’s the problem: the preacher/pastor becomes the focal point of all these things. Who you gonna call?  The preacher/pastor, of course.  For a while he can cope. Eventual burnout, however, is inevitable. It would be different if it was understood that we are all priests. That would take a tremendous load off the “designated priest,” who really shouldn’t exist anyway.

Perhaps you are aware, as I am, of churches where it seems to work well.  The preacher/pastor has a long tenure, is loved and appreciated and, from all appearances, all is well.  Not only are such congregations the exception, but seem to have a handle on the priesthood of all believers. Furthermore, the group that in other places functions as a board has become shepherds of the flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3). May their tribe increase!

In most other cases, however, in addition to the expectations of the board and the congregation, the pastor/preacher becomes the primary target of disgruntled constituents. For those who have not served in this capacity, it is hard to imagine the insults, injuries, disparagement and humiliation that can come with the territory when things go wrong.

All this hinders and hamstrings our mission: to be a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). So what can be done? A giant first step would be to acknowledge the problem. For those who believe solutions are found in words inspired by the Holy Spirit, the second step would be to open the Scriptures and compare what we do with what we should be doing. The third step requires that we love our Savior more than our traditions and apply the solutions.  Hard?  Yes it is. What seems harder would be to face the returning Christ with mission unfulfilled.

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Filed under Change Agent, church, Holy Spirit, Preaching/Teaching, Restoration, Scripture, Unity

The Tucson Memorial: Some Thoughts

Here are a few thoughts on the memorial held this evening for the victims of the shootings in Tucson.

1.       Wasn’t that “Native American Blessing” weird?  The bloke who gave it was not even a Native American…he was descended from the Yaquis of Mexico!  If he wasn’t a professor at the University, he probably wouldn’t have been on the program.

2.       I thought President Obama gave the finest speech I have heard from him so far (and he does love to give speeches).  It was exactly what we needed to hear.  It was thoughtful, sympathetic, conciliatory, uniting and comforting.

3.       It was uplifting to hear Scripture read by the Attorney General and the Secretary for Homeland Security.  They read with courage and conviction at a time when our nation drifts toward secularism.  Even the President, who is not known for his personal exercise of faith, referred at least twice to Scripture.

4.       How about that Daniel Hernandez?  Without notes or any sign of stage fright this articulate young man made some very thoughtful comments and renounced the title of Hero…handing that appellation to others he felt deserved it more.  I was impressed!

5.       I was surprised at the tone of the memorial.  It seemed more like a pep rally but, as one commentator suggested, maybe this is what was needed.  Nevertheless, I was angered by those who kept screaming even after the rest of the audience had become quiet.  What makes them think we are as much in love with their voice as they obviously are?

6.       I hope this brings to an end the incredibly stupid finger-pointing and mud-slinging employed by political opportunists.  I must say, however, that I am not holding my breath.

7.       I was moved by the brief sketches of those who were killed given by the President.  It was a personal touch that gave us all a little insight into the always extraordinary lives of ordinary people.

8.       The sketch of one precious little girl, Christina Taylor Green who would remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life,” brought me to tears.

As Mr. Obama said, may we work toward “…forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.”

My Blogs:
Whitticisms
: dwhitsett.wordpress.com

In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Woodcarving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Blessings, Community, Current Events, Faith, Good & Evil, Life, Love, Prayer, Religion, Scripture, Theism, Unity

Is Unity the Mission?

Stone-CampbellThe Restoration Movement (aka Stone-Campbell Movement) arose out of a desire to achieve unity among believers in Jesus Christ.  Drop the baggage that makes us separate and, bingo!  Unity!  It never really worked very well because people love their denominations more than they love unity.  It was a noble cause driven by noble minds but it was misguided (I know I’m getting in hot water here).  Jesus prayed for his followers to be one (John 17) and Paul chastised the Corinthians for their division (I Corinthians 1) but our mission is making disciples (you know the passages) not unifying those who would rather be divided.  It is vanity and a striving after wind.

Thank God there are other things to do!  Jesus commands us to make disciples.  We accomplish that when we communicate (proclaim and model) the good news about Him.  Yes, it is just that simple.  Maybe that’s why his followers keep missing the point.

And here’s the surprise bonus: if we simply do what Jesus did, unity happens.

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Filed under church, discipleship, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching, Unity