“God so loved the world,” the beloved Evangelical mantra of goes, concluding, “that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Those words are etched on our minds, but it seems increasingly doubtful that they are engraved upon our hearts.
It was the begotten Son himself who warned, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) So when a cursory review of our social media feeds reveal deepening toxicity in the speech of many of our fellow Christians, I cannot help but conclude that something is terribly amiss. As modern Evangelicals, we proclaim that God loves the world, but at times we live and speak as if he hates it. So, with the Apostle James, I am writing to say, “brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be.” (James 3:10)
As it is, for many of us, our speech betrays our heats and reveals that we have indeed lost sight of the Father’s love. Perhaps not his love for the Church, but most certainly his love for the world. We have come to see the fields, not as white unto harvest, but as overwhelmed by the weeds of worldliness. We are eager to drag the harlot out before Jesus and far too eager to throw the first stone. The posture of the evangelical church towards the world has been shifting from a position of love to a posture of contempt.
I get it. I watch the news too. And some of it makes my blood boil. But as I feel my heart rate rising, I must remind myself, Jesus embraced tax collectors and prostitutes and excluded the religious elite.
In his book, Exclusion And Embrace: A Theological Exploration Of Identity, Otherness, And Reconciliation, Miroslav Volf proposes the following. “…the will to give ourselves to others and “welcome” them, to readjust our identities to make space for them, is prior to any judgment about others, except that of identifying them in their humanity.” Volf puts forward the notation that “social agents” [i.e people] rather than “social arrangements” [i.e. social-political institutions and programs] are the key to reconciliation in the world. He writes, “Instead of reflecting on the kind of society we ought to create in order to accommodate individual or communal heterogeneity [the quality or state of being diverse in character or content], we mustexplore what kind of selves we need to be in order to live in harmony with others.” Thus Volf links the work of reconciliation directly to personal identity and concludes that our identity must ultimately be characterized by the hope that we have in the “promise of the cross, grounded in the resurrection of the Crucified.”
Here are three ways Volf suggests that the cross must inform our identity:
- We must find solidarity with Christ in his cross: In the cross, Christ provides the ultimate example of how we ought to live towards the world. As God has received us through his atoning work, we must also receive the godless perpetrators of evil. We must “struggle against evil by following the example of the Crucified,” living sacrificially.
- We must align our loyalty with the culture of the cross: The core of the Christian identity is marked by loyalty to “the God of all cultures.” Though our culture may be embroiled in conflict, we must abstain from the present toxicity and embrace the culture by way of self-sacrificial love. We must avoid complicity with culture to embrace culture.
- We must cultivate unity through the cross: Volf writes, “…the cross is the self-giving of the one for many.” As such, the cross is the means by which all ground is leveled, fostering the opportunity for unity (incidentally, this was the main point of MLK’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech). When we acknowledge our sin and the forgiveness that has been extended to us through the cross, we can, in turn, extend forgiveness to others, with the temporal hope being the establishment of unity and the eternal hope being the ultimate prevailing of the promise of the cross.
Link to This Sunday Worship Service
New Sermon Series
Book of Proverbs
Coming in June
Change for Life
Baby Bottle Blessings Fundraiser
Baby bottles will be available Sunday May 9th during our worship service.
Aspire provides life affirming pregnancy support services, including pregnancy tests and limited ultrasounds for pregnancy confirmation, for women in our communities experiencing unplanned pregnancies.
Our annual Church Picnic and Baptism is scheduled for Saturday August 28th.
We look forward to coming together for a time fellowship and celebration.
Mark your calendars!
On Goal Soccer Camp
June 22nd – June 26th
Register today at www.ongoal.org
K-1st 9am-Noon $145 / 2nd-9th 9am-3pm $165
Family discounts and Laconia resident discounts are also available.
Visit www.laconiachurch.com/ongoal to volunteer or donate to the scholarship fund.
We already have donation requests coming in.
EBC Kids is back up and running. Nursery – Grade 5 is provided during second service. If you would like to volunteer to serve in this ministry, please contact Victoria Mansfield at firstname.lastname@example.org