Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Point, Exactly

A South African newspaper recently published a cartoon depicting Mohammed, lying on a couch, speaking to a psychiatrist and saying, "Other prophets have followers with a sense of humour!"

The reaction of the Muslim community has reinforced the point made by the cartoon. They did not recognize that the cartoon was calling on them to develop an ability to laugh a little at their own foibles. Instead they called the cartoon an insult to the prophet, and some of them threatened violence. The threats came from a few, but the missing of the point was nearly universal. The reaction of even the most educated and moderate Muslim leaders seems to have proven the cartoon to be accurate.

This lack of humor is a trend in our world. Our past political figures could take a joke, and even poke a little fun at themselves. But our current leaders tell jokes only on others. This is a shame and it is a greater shame that it is spilling over into the church.

Are we sometimes guilty of taking ourselves too seriously? Are we ever guilty of taking a joke concerning our own foibles as an insult to Christ? Can you chuckle when someone suggests that you must be a member of the church of Christ if you can read shaped notes, or if you think seperateandapart is all one word? Most Christians seem to have a pretty good sense of humor (or humour, as the South Africans would say). But a few are getting too uptight to keep things in perspective.

An ability to laugh at one’s self indicates a healthy realization of our failings and foibles. A tendency to take ourselves too seriously shows that we are mistaken about our place in the universe. As Christians, we are not drawn to Muslim theology. Nor should we be drawn toward Muslim personality with its lack of humor.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Health News

I recently read of a research project that found an interesting (although unexplained) link between coffee and diabetes. The research found that people who drink coffee at lunch are less likely to get diabetes than those who do not drink coffee at lunch. Coffee at other times of day did not seem to help. Fancy coffee did not seem to help, just plain black coffee.

These researchers did not pretend to know why this might be true, which is good and right of them. But I am not a diabetes researcher, so I am going to take a wild guess. I am going to guess that people who drink coffee at lunch stay busy throughout the afternoon, leading them to get more exercise and helping them fend off diabetes.

Now, I will go a step further and state that, if Christians would take a healthy spiritual stimulant in the middle of their day (week, lifetimes), and stay more active in the Lord’s work through the afternoon (rest of the week, rest of their lives), they would be less likely to develop many of the spiritual ills that beset them.

Is it not painfully clear that many have grown spiritually ill from lack of activity? We were created for good work (Eph 2:10). Anything that fails to fulfill its purpose will rust or decay. Any living being that is not fulfilling its natural function will suffer health problems. Any Christian who is not active in good works will be ill.

So give yourself a little spiritual caffeine in the form of a midday psalm or spiritual song, a midweek Bible study, or a mid-life Christian retreat. Then get out there and DO SOMETHING. Help someone in need; invite your neighbors to worship, explain the gospel to a loved one, or send a card to someone who needs encouraging. Maybe no one will appreciate your effort, but the exercise might keep you from spiritual illness, so that alone makes it worthwhile.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Neglected Quality

When discussions arise about church leadership there are three passages to which people regularly turn. First Timothy 3, Titus 1, and Acts 6 are always brought into the discussion. These three are relevant, and they ought to be studied prayerfully before making decisions about church leadership. But there are other passages that should also enter into the discussion.

One such passage is 1 Corinthian 16:15-16. It reads,
Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. (ESV)

The point here is not that the first convert in town ought to be a church leader, but that those who are workers, those devoted to service, ought to be the ones under whom we place ourselves in the church.

Bad things happen when we ignore this principle. A man might be married only once, and be able to teach, and fulfill a lot of the other qualifications listed in the passages we normally use; and yet, if that man is not a worker and servant, he is not fit to be an under shepherd of Christ (see 1 Peter 5).

Let us consider the whole council of God regarding leadership. And may we never forget this vital matter of service. May we always be willing (even eager) to submit ourselves to the leadership of those who are known to be hard workers for the Lord.