Donate to Support

Support the church that supports this blog. Donate at - Click the donate button in the upper righthand corner.
Showing posts with label the Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the Church. Show all posts

Monday, January 24, 2022

The Beautiful Image

This message series was inspired by a book I read last year by an enlightening book by James Dickson I read last year titled Bullies and Saints.

When the Church is true to Christ, we are His body, the perfect image of God. Our respect for the image of God means all human life is sacred and must be respected equally.  This helped change the way people are treated and is still changing hearts and minds today. 

Unfortunately, the Church has not always represented Christ well.  When we misunderstand Christ’s teachings or use religion to pursue our own selfish ambitions, we distort the beautiful image of Christ.  But we shouldn’t judge Jesus or His teachings by those who fail to follow them.  Instead, let us consider how the Church makes the world radically better when it was faithful to Christ’s teachings.  And let us resolve to set aside our own selfish ambitions, take up our cross daily, and follow Christ. 

The Ancient Value of Human Life
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jeferson penned the beautiful, revolutionary idea that “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  America's founding fathers didn’t pluck these ideas out of thin air.  They actually gleaned them from Biblical Christian teaching.  Jewish and Christian sacred texts hold that all people bear the image of God, and thus, we are all loved by God and sacred to Him. 

In our times, we take for granted that all human life is sacred.  People did not always believe this way.  In fact, ancient societies did not believe it at all.  Kings, Pharaohs, and Caesars were sometimes thought to be the image of God, but not ordinary people and especially not children, the elderly, slaves, or the infirm. 

Here's an example.  In 1 BC, a Roman soldier named Hilarion stationed away from home wrote a letter to his pregnant wife to say if the baby was a boy she should keep it. But if the baby was a girl, she must “throw it out.”[i]  What’s even more striking is Hilarion mentions this in passing.  It’s not even the main point of the letter.  The life of the child—which we hold to be sacred and worthy of all dignity, respect, and protection—was just a thing to be kept or discarded and mentioned as nonchalantly as if it were instructions about throwing out of an unneeded and worn-out rug.

Hilarion's letter seems callous and cruel to us.  We would arrest anyone today who acted that way.  However, people in Hilarion’s day would not have thought he was being cruel or immoral.  This was what was expected of good citizens.  It was actually considered a danger to society to keep unwanted or disabled children. 

It was common practice in the ancient world for families to “expose” unwanted or deformed children.  Exposure meant parents simply left the child outside and let it die of exposure to the elements.  Ironically, people who were too soft-hearted to do their “civic duty” were seen as weak or uncivilized.  Aristotle—the great, Greek philosopher lauded by historians and scholars today—recommended there should be a law "to prevent the rearing of deformed children."[ii] 

This practice seems horrific and evil to us today, but suppose you were somehow transported back in time to Hilarion’s time to convince him not to throw out his unwanted daughter.  What argument would you make?

You might say, “It’s cruel and immoral.”

Hilarion and his neighbors would counter that it was cruel to let an unwanted child live, that it weakened society, that the child had no useful purpose, and that it would be an unnecessary drain on the family and society.  

You see, in the ancient, non-Christian, non-Jewish world, people believed a person's worth was based upon it’s capacity (or potential) to contribute to the family and society.  A person or a child who with little or nothing to offer had no intrinsic value.  Non-religious people today struggle to make an effective argument against this.  Why do people have value if not for what they provide?  Why is human life sacred if someone does not accept the reality of religious sacredness? 

Our outrage in modern times at the exposure of an infant reveals that modern people have a very different fundamental belief that all life is sacred—especially the life of a helpless infant.  We feel compelled to stand up for the weak and vulnerable and voiceless.  Where do we get this urge?

The answer is found in Scripture.  Right back at the very beginning of the Christian story of faith, we see that God instilled sacred value in human life.

Genesis 1:27
So God created human beings[a] in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27 tells us that every person is created in the image of God.   And throughout Scripture, we are reminded to respect and protect people because they bear God’s image.  God loves them and we are to love and respect people too.  The reason we don’t murder is because people are made in God’s image and to take another person’s life is an attack on God Himself.  Genesis 9:6 says, “If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image.”  

Thankfully, the civilized world no longer “exposes” unwanted children.  The reason is Jesus came and showed us the perfect image of God and established the Church to carry out His mission on earth.  And for 2,000 years, the Church has been working to transform the way the world thinks.  So many of the blessings we enjoy today started with Christ and came to fruition through His Church.  Consider: 

The Blessings We Have Because of the Church
Because of the Church, we have laws forbidding the abandonment of children.  The Christian Church led the Roman Empire to establish a law forbidding the exposure of the of unwanted children.

Because of the Church, we have orphanages.  The Christian Church founded the first orphanages and foster care systems to take care of unwanted children.  How many millions of people are alive today because the church rescued unwanted children who would have otherwise been abandoned or exposed?

Because of the Church, we have public hospitals.  The early Church invented public hospitals where everyone—rich and poor alike—could receive care because we are all equally sacred to and loved by God.  Christians believed all people should be cared for when they are sick because they are made in the image of God.  Before the Church era, the infirm, elderly, deformed and outcast (especially those that were poor) were disposable and often abandoned because they could not contribute to society.  Christians changed this—establishing the first hospitals, monasteries to care for widows, and rest homes for the elderly.

Because of the Church, we had the abolition of slavery.  Church teaching led to the ending of slavery.  Early Christians frequently purchased freedom for slaves or rescued them by other means.  Eventually, Christians led the fight to abolish slavery in Europe and then America. You can’t own someone as property, because they are made in the image of God.  Their life is sacred to God who made them to be free and only under the authority of One Master—God.  

Because of the Church, we have free legal representation.  Today in America, you have the right to an attorney.  If you can’t afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to serve you for free.  Do you know who started that?  The early Church started this practice because they said “Everyone is equal in the eyes of God and deserves equal justice, whether rich or poor.”  The justice system in ancient Rome was very corrupt and favored the rich who could afford court fees, bribes, and expensive legal representation.  The Christian Church stepped in to level the playing field--paying court fees and advocating for the poor so they would receive equal justice.  Later, the Roman Empire adopted the same practice to ensure equal justice for rich and poor.  This practice has been handed down to America today.

So we see, these are just a few of the example of how Christ’s Church has beautifully transformed our world in countless ways that we take for granted.  Even people who are not Christians today (or who would never set foot inside a church) benefit from these blessings faithful Christians normalized in our world.  

Of course, the Church has not always been faithful to Christ’s example & teachings.  And it is very destructive when people stray from Christ and use religion for their own selfish gain.  We must always be on guard, realizing the image of God in us is broken and distorted by sin.  We do not naturally do the right thing.  That is why Christ had to come—as the perfect image of God—to atone for our sin and set our feet back on the right path.

Colossians 1:15-20

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.


Join Christ’s Mission to Save the World

When the Church is true to Christ, we are His body, the perfect image of God.  Our respect for the image of God means all human life is sacred and must be respected equally.  This helps change the way people are treated and is still changing hearts and minds today.


We have much work left to do.  Look around at the world and see there is still so much suffering and injustice and oppression.  The answer is not found in human reasoning, a college degree, politics, government programs, or nation building.  The answer is Christ.


We must surrender.  We must recognize we are not our own and cannot live however we please.  We must recognize Jesus is Lord.  We must repent of our sin and pledge our lives and livelihood to Him and Him alone.  Then, we must be faithful and follow Jesus.  We must be the Church He calls us to be—which Colossians 1:18 says in Christ’s body.  Rise up men and women of faith!


And so I plead with you today.  

Turn from your sins and turn to Jesus.  

A world without Christ is a very dark place and a life without Christ ends in eternal death and damnation.  Turn to Jesus and be saved.  Serve the Lord and help save the world.

It’s as simple as that.



Monday, January 17, 2022

The Beautiful Tune

Last week, we started a message series about the Beautiful Church, Christ's physical presence on earth. I told you Jesus shared the most beautiful truths of God's love the world has ever known. Unfortunately, His followers have not always lived up to His ideals. 

We shared a little illustration last Sunday to demonstrate how we shouldn't judge Christ's message by the poor performance of some of His followers.  Did you see it?

In our day, we take for granted how comprehensively Jesus Christian message has influenced our world.  We take so much for granted.  Just consider one aspect–how Jesus teachings are found everywhere in our conversations. We get the following expressions directly from Jesus.  How often have you used one of these saying or heard them used by someone else?

Salt of the earth

City on a hill

Love thy neighbor

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Good Samaritan

Prodigal son

Blind leading the blind

A cross to bear

Pearls before swine

Do not let the left hand know what the right is doing

Judge not lest you be judged

A wolf in sheep's clothing

Cast the first stone

Eat, drink, and be merry

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s

Sign of the times

Go the extra mile

Shout it from the rooftops

Log in the eye

And many, many others

Whether or not a person is a Christian, these sayings are used so often people forget they came directly from Jesus.  And understand, these are not just used by English speakers, but also in French, Greek, Italian, German, Dutch, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Hungarian, and Russian.

Without Jesus, we wouldn’t have these expressions or the ideas they automatically conjure up in our thinking.

However, as colorful as these expressions of wisdom are, they are only minor notes in the main theme of Jesus’ beautiful tune.  What then is the core of Jesus’ tune?  It is love.

Matthew 22:34-40
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Love is the Greatest of All
Jesus teaching about love was revolutionary.  I can’t overstress this, because after 2,000 years we take for granted that love is the highest virtue.  One is tempted to think the world has always thought of love as Christians do.  This is not so.

Prior to Christ, the great civilization of the world did not venerate love like Jesus. Jesus lifted the commandments to love from the Jewish Torah, but these statements about love were buried among 613 religious laws and Jesus emphasized that we are to love not only our friends, but also our enemies.  Jews of his day were astounded at Jesus’ teachings about love. The main virtues for ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans did not include love.  They cherished ideals like wisdom, courage, self-discipline, and justice.  But there was no place among their greatest virtues for sacrificial love.

This is not to say that other great civilizations did not love, but their concept of  love was purely transactional.  A ruler might “love” his people, but it was only because doing so was in his best interest.  A ruler who loved his people and did good for them would earn the loyalty and support of his people.  Ultimately, this kind of love was an effort to “buy” support and honor from the people he ruled.  It was a transaction.  Even the love between a husband and wife in these ancient civilizations was primarily transactional.  Marriage was a contract more about what the husband and wife got out of the deal than about mutual, unconditional, sacrificial love for one another.

There was in ancient civilizations a concept of giving charity (in other words, a rich leader might pay to have a well dug for the community or to build an expensive temple), but these were done for the sake of getting honor and fame for the donor.  It was a transaction–a gift given in return for honor and fame.

But Jesus came along and said, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” He taught us to give our gifts in secret and don’t make a big deal out of it. Jesus said, “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.  35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”  (Luke 6:32-36)

Jesus was the first one to espouse universal, unconditional, sacrificial love.  It was revolutionary.  He said we should love this way because it is an imitation of God’s own character and we are made in God’s image and should love the way He loves.

Well, anybody can talk about love.  But these were more than just words for Christ. His mission on earth was to live out this unconditional, sacrificial love for all people. The ultimate expression of Jesus’ love was his death on the cross for the sins of the world. As Romans 5:8 says, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

The love Jesus championed was ludicrous to almost everyone in the first century. Jesus’ own people, the Jews, who knew about God’s love from their own holy Scriptures, would never have thought to love their Roman overlords.  They wanted God to destroy their enemies. People in ancient times might be willing to sacrifice their lives for someone who was worthy—maybe to die for their family or for their country or a great leader–but no one would die for their enemies or for evil-doers.  And yet, Jesus chose to die for sinners.  Ultimately, the Christian message is that every person is a sinner and none of us are worthy of Christ’s sacrificial death, but He died for us anyway.  This was a whole new concept Jesus revealed to our world.  Through the centuries, it has reshaped everything about the way modern people view love and sacrifice and the sacred value of every human life.

This paradigm shift cannot be overstated. Jesus is the reason our world values love today. Whether or not you are a Christian or even believe God exists, Jesus changed humanity forever for the better.  And Jesus did not do it alone.

Jesus birthed the idea of God’s unconditional, universal, sacrificial love and died on a cross to prove it. However, it was the Church Jesus commissioned–people who believed in Him, followed Him, and dedicated their lives to His mission–who convinced the majority of the world, against all odds, that Jesus’ way of love is the best way of all.

I know the Church has played many sour notes throughout history, and people have often misunderstood or purposefully misused  Jesus’ teachings for their own selfish gain.  But contrary to the picture an unbelieving, anti-Christian world paints, the Church has gotten it right more than it has gotten it wrong. And when the Church has been true to Jesus’ Beautiful Tune, we have pushed the world to be a much better place. And many in the Church–just like our Lord–gave up their lives in the effort. History is colored with the blood of martyrs–some named, but most unknown–who gave their lives to advance the cause of Christ and teach people His love.

You can say what you want about the Church, but if you cherish the greatest virtue in the modern world, one of the things you ought to say is: “Thank you.”

Martin Luther King
Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day, a day to remember and honor this great civil rights leader.  Everyone knows what King did, but don’t forget he was the Rev. Martin Luther King. MLK was a Christian.  He was even named after the great 16th century Church reformer, Martin Luther. King’s conviction to fight for the equal treatment of black people was firmly rooted in his Christian faith that said all people are created equally in the image of God, and we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And we are to love our neighbor as ourself.

In one of King’s famous sermons, “Loving Your Enemies, he preached at Dexter Baptist Church:
“Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.  Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing. And we cannot dismiss this passage as just another example of Oriental hyperbole, just a sort of exaggeration to get over the point. This is a basic philosophy of all that we hear coming from the lips of our Master. Because Jesus wasn’t playing; because he was serious. We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command.”

King’s commitment to Christ’s unconditional, universal, sacrificial love was so complete, he suffered beatings, imprisonment, and ultimately lost his life in service to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

If you remove from history Christ and His Church, you do not have a Martin Luther King, Jr. You do not have a motivation for non-violent resistance that leads to dramatic social change. You do not have the civil rights movement. You do not have the abolition of slavery. You do not have equal rights for all people or equality for women. You do not even have America, a land where we believe
“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

What other essential virtues of our world today would be missing were it not for Christ and His Church boldly proclaiming for the last 2,000 years: “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself”?

Now I want to close by saying there is much more work to do. We have not yet realized the fullness of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. We who are Christians, who follow Jesus as Lord, have much work to do. And our work may include suffering. So let us pray for courage and determination. Let us pray for God’s love to fill us,
because the kind of love we need to do Christ’s work is not in us naturally. And let us pray for more laborers to join us in the vineyard, because the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

And I call out to you–you who are listening to me right now, but are still not part of Christ’s Church. Perhaps you feel, today, Christ calling to you saying: “Come, follow me!” And so I join His invitation.  Will you join with me? Will you join with all the faithful followers of Christ from every place and every generations who have fought the good fight to share Christ’s transforming love with the world. I hope you will.

Closing Prayer from Martin Luther King, Jr. “Oh God, help us in our lives and in all of our attitudes, to work out this controlling force of love, this controlling power that can solve every problem that we confront in all areas. Oh, we talk about politics; we talk about the problems facing our atomic civilization. Grant that all men will come together and discover that as we solve the crisis and solve these problems—the international problems, the problems of atomic energy, the problems of nuclear energy, and yes, even the race problem—let us join together in a great fellowship of love and bow down at the feet of Jesus. Give us this strong determination. In the name and spirit of this Christ, we pray. Amen.”

Monday, January 10, 2022

The Beautiful Rock

Today, we begin a new message series about the Beautiful Church.

The Church was established by Jesus to be Christ’s physical presence on earth.  Let that sink in for just a minute…

We who follow Jesus as Lord—you and I together, along with all faithful believers around the world—are the Church, the physical presence of Jesus on the earth.

That should be a jaw dropping revelation if you’ve not known it before.  What a tremendous honor and privilege.  And also, what a tremendous responsibility.  The Church is a beautiful and powerful thing.

Many in our times say, "I love Jesus, but not the Church."  How can you love Jesus and not love the Church when the Church is Jesus physical presence on the earth?

The Church has gotten a bad reputation over the years.  Many are disillusioned with the Church.  Part of this is the Church’s own fault.  We have not always lived up to our high calling.  However, the Church has also been the victim of a scornful campaign to destroy Her good name.  The Enemy of God is working hard to convince the world the Church, is and always has been, nothing but trouble that has held back progress and fomented tremendous evil on society.

I hope this series will dispel the popular myth that our world would be better off without the Church.  I want to reveal the many blessings Christ brought our world through the Church—blessings we take for granted that could not exist without the work of Christ’s Church over the centuries. 

If you attend a church regularly, you may love the Church and maybe you don’t have a negative view of the Church.  But, even if you love the Church, you’ve been inundated by society’s scorn for the Church.
If you never attend church, it may be because you were told the lie that Church and organized religion is the reason for all of society’s ills.  I hope to dispel the misconceptions about the Church through this series and invite people to join the Church in playing the beautiful song Jesus wrote for us.  I hope every Christian who who reads these messages will learn to take our responsibility to represent Christ more serious.

If you are reading to this message today, please keep an opened mind.  Follow along over the next few weeks and consider all the tremendous good  that only Christ’s Church could have accomplished in our world over the last 2,000 years.  I hope to convince you that many of the blessings you cherish most in our world today only exist because of Jesus and the work of His Church over the last two millenia.

The Beautiful Tune 
This series was inspired by a great book by John Dickson titled, Bullies and Saint.  I commend the book to you.  In his book, Dickson uses an illustration to show how Jesus wrote a beautiful “song” of love that has had lasting resonance.  Unfortunately, Jesus’ followers have not always played the tune well. 

Click here to watch a short video of this illustration.

This is a great example of the history of the Christian church.  Jesus was born 2,000 years ago.  He showed the world the incredible, unconditional love of God.  He redeemed the world by dying on the cross and the power of God raised Him from the grave.  When we surrender to God and follow Jesus, He adds us to His Church and calls us to share His love and salvation with the whole world.  It is the most beautiful “song” ever written.

But, we are still fallible people.  You don’t pick up an instrument and play it perfectly on the first day.
You have to practice and get better and you have to learn the tune well.  Christians also have to practice and practice and practice and learn the tune of Christ in order to play it well.  There are bound to be sour notes along the way.  Furthermore, there are often in the Church wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing
who do not truly represent Jesus at all, but only wish to use His Church as a means to advance their own selfish agendas.

So let us start by establishing the foundation of Christ’s True Church. We find that foundation in Matthew 16:13-19.

Matthew 16:13-19
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

The Beautiful Rock of Faith
This text shows the true foundation of the Church.
Our foundation is faith in Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus was not just a prophet or a teacher or a good man who came to bring change.  Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God who came to save the world from sin.  Our Sin is thinking we can live however we want apart from God.  Jesus has the power and right to save us because He is the Son of the Living God.  He is Lord of all.

In order to truly be part of Christ’s Church, you must accept and build your life upon the understanding that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  If Jesus is the Messiah, the Lord, the Son of God,
He has the right to your complete and total submission and allegiance.  In Matthew 10:38, Jesus said “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”  And in Luke 14:33, Jesus said,  “You cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”

True followers of Jesus recognize that Jesus is absolute Lord of all.  The Truth is, we don’t own anything.  It all belongs to God.  Our very soul belongs to God.  It is a lie we tell ourselves that we are independent and free.  We are not.  All that we are and all that we have belong to God and are to be used for His purposes.  When we cling to our own selfish desires and ambitions, we cannot play Jesus’ beautiful tune the way it was meant to be played.  We will play a sour note every time we cling to our own way.

We see these sour notes throughout history whenever people in the Church used the name of Christ for their own selfish reasons.  Each time so-called Christians do this it gives the Devil and his supporters in the world another bullet to fire at Christ’s True Church.  “Look,”  cries the Devil, “at the way these Christians act!  Look how their religion destroys the world!”  And there is a world full of people glad to nod their heads in scornful agreement.

It is true that evil has sometimes been done in the name of Jesus over the centuries.  People in the Church have not always loved like Jesus or followed His way, truth, and life.  Much evil and hurt result when people drift from Christ.

But don’t judge Jesus or His Church by the worst actions of broken people who are not doing what Jesus taught us do.  Rather, look and see the beautiful tune Jesus wrote for His Church and how it redeems our world when played correctly.

As Christians, it is essential that we stand faithfully upon the Rock of Peter’s statement that Jesus “is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!”  This is more than words; it must be lived out as actions.  We can’t hold this view only when it serves our purposes—when we want forgiveness and restoration, or when we are in desperate need of healing or help.

If Jesus is Lord, He is Lord all of the time.
He’s Lord when no one is watching.
He’s Lord when we have nothing and when we have plenty!
He’s Lord when we want to follow Him because it feels good.
He is also Lord when He tells us to take up a cross and give up our lives for Him,
And when He says, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
And when He says, forgive those who do you wrong,
and then forgive them again and again and again and again…

This is what it means to be the Church Jesus calls us to be, to be Jesus’ physical presence in the world.
What did Jesus do?  He died for us on the cross--even for His enemies!
What do you think Jesus wants His Church to do?
We must die on a cross for His sake, even for our enemies, trusting He will lift us up in ressurection!

When we stand faithfully upon this Rock, we are an incredible blessing to the world. 
When we step off the Rock into the sinking sands of selfishness and unfaithfulness,
we become an evil tool in the hand of the Devil that brings death and destruction upon the earth,
and people point their accusing fingers and shout,
“The Church and religion are the cause of all the world’s problems.”

So I want to call you to action.
If you are a Christian reading this, I implore you:
Stand firmly upon the Rock of faith that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
These are not just words. 
This is a principle that changes your identity and everything about the way you live.
It is imperative that you represent Jesus well.

If you are reading this and you are not a Christian or if you are one of those skeptical of the Church,
I call upon you to investigate the truth of these messages over the next few weeks with an opened mind.
Don’t just accept the popular myth the world teaches that the Church is only and always corrupt and holding the world back or causing harm.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you set aside your presumptions and look at the facts from 2,000 years of history, I believe you will see and maybe you will even want to join with us in our mission to save the world.