We're canceling all corporate (on site) worship and gatherings at Hope until further notice, due to the Coronavirus, but we invite you to join us for morning worship every Sunday via Facebook live from Hope United Methodist Church's Facebook page at 10:30 am, for the Hope UMC Praise and Prayer Check-In every afternoon at 4 pm.
You can access Hope's Facebook page without joining Facebook by selecting "not now" when prompted to "log in" or "join Facebook".
If you’re reading this, the chances are excellent that you know at least one person—and probably several people—who think that you’re kind of silly, or maybe even crazy or evil—for being a Christian.
I’m not trying to stir up self-pity or outrage here. (In fact, I’d like to ask my fellow Christians on social media to take a deep breath and ask God if they’re really supposed to click on that meme that was created precisely to stir up self-pity and outrage.)
No. I’m just stating a fact. Christians aren’t the cool kids around here anymore. Part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the Capital Region of New York in 2020 is swimming against the tide of popular culture.
The trouble is that when “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) is under increasingly hostile fire, the temptation is either to return fire or start waving a white flag.
But we have another alternative. We can “contend for the faith” (Jude 3) by living it out graciously, winsomely, invitingly. Right here. Right now.
And we can do that because, no matter what some may say, we’re not silly for being Christians. We have come know in our own lives and experience that Jesus is the One sent by God to bring us back into the living relationship with God that He created us to live in. We’d be silly to deny what we know for ourselves to be true.
And we’re not crazy. Jesus has changed and continues to change us from the inside out. I didn’t set myself free from the things that enslaved me. Jesus did. We’re not the source of our ongoing transformation and growth. Jesus is. We’d be crazy to stop following Him.
And we’re not evil. We still have the capacity to do evil, and we need to be honest about the fact that an awful lot of evil has been perpetrated by Christians. But when Christians commit evil, it’s not because Jesus is evil. It’s because Jesus is not a dictator. He reigns in the heart that trusts Him. He teaches us to rely and depend on Him moment by moment, but He doesn’t force His way. When we choose not to trust Him, we quickly fall into sin. But the more we experience the love of God that Jesus brings into our lives, the more we learn to want what He wants. And the more we come to want what He wants, the more quickly we respond to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit when we do fall into sin.
The world tells us that we’re fools for believing in Jesus. But because we know Jesus to be who and what the Bible reveals Him to be, it would be foolish for us not to believe. The claims of Christ bear scrutiny. Don’t be afraid of questions and doubts, whether they’re yours or those of others. Look into the matter! Christianity has nothing to fear from an honest search for the truth.
Rebecca McLaughlin’s Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion (Wheaton: Crossway, 2019) is a wonderful resource for those who want to think through the claims of Christ. With intellectual rigor, well-documented research, humility, empathy, and a Christian faith rooted firmly in the Bible, McLaughlin responds to the following questions: 1.) Aren’t we better off without religion? 2.) Doesn’t Christianity crush diversity? 3.) How can you say there’s only one faith? 4.) Doesn’t religion hinder morality? 5.) Doesn’t religion cause violence? 6.) How can you take the Bible literally? 7.) Hasn’t science disproved Christianity? 8.) Doesn’t Christianity denigrate women? 9.) Isn’t Christianity homophobic? 10.) Doesn’t the Bible condone slavery? 11.) How could a loving God allow so much suffering? 12.) How could a loving God send people to hell?
Russell Moore writes that McLaughlin “takes seriously the Bible and the questions of non-believers. If you’re a non-Christian and have wondered why Christians think and do as they do, this book will be a good start to exploring those questions. If you’re a believer, this book will not only equip you intellectually but also call you to compassion and empathy for your questioning, unbelieving neighbor, as well as prepare you to bear witness to the Light that has come into the world.”
Bearing witness to the Light that has come into the world. That’s what we’re here for. Shine bright.