Monday, August 19, 2013

Stupid Things to Not Say to Those Who Hurt

I ran across a Facebook link to a blog post titled, "3 Phrases Christians Should Quit Relying On" by a blogger named Jayson Bradley.

While the three phrases the author uses are not specifically aimed at people confronted with hurting people, two of them he specifically ties to suffering.  The three he lists are:

  1. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”
  2. “God told me . . .”
  3. “I’ll pray for you.”
For why you should never tell somebody that God doesn't give them more than they can handle, Bradley suggests,

"It’s just dumb: People go through more than they can handle all the time. Whether it’s the loss of a child or a slow death from cancer, people are going through things you can’t possibly imagine. Would you tell Jewish prisoners at Buchenwald that “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle?”

(Hat Tip: Sara's Hillbilly Husband)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Maybe the Part-Time Churchgoer Smells the Coffee

Hat tip to Arthur Sido (who blogs at the voice of one crying out in suburbia) for pointing out a post written by Trevin Wax at the Gospel Coalition blog.

Wax writes about the "part-time churchgoer" so prevalent in today's [even a faithful] church.  He constructs a fictional couple, Geoff and Christine, who have children and serve faithfully in their local church.  Geoff is even a deacon.  But as faithful as they may think they are, they miss quite a number of Sundays to engage in other activities.  Without knowing it, they are "part-time" churchgoers.  Please read the short post here to understand what I am writing about.

My purpose in this post is to call attention to a point that I think is completely missed by both the author and most all of the commenters.

So Geoff and Christine miss church to engage in sports activities for their kids, go on vacation, take care of sick kids, host visiting family, and several other reasons.  What's the big deal? 

Getting right to the point here, Geoff and Christine may think it's okay to miss church because they aren't missed at church when they aren't there.  Nobody will notice.  And the reason nobody will notice is because the "body of Christ" that Wax attempts to portray really doesn't function like a body.  You know, like the body that the apostle Paul writes about in his epistles.  After all, if the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?

Imagine your body missing a major organ or other part.  If I woke up today totally blind in one eye it would affect me for the rest of my life, or until whatever temporary problem disappeared.  If I suddenly had surgery to remove a kidney, the results would be drastic.  If I were missing even one single toe, my foot planting on the ground on every step would be altered enough to give me posture problems or hinder my ability to run. 

Why do we think Paul used the metaphor of a body to describe the church?  It is because any body part that is missing would cause such a notable difference that we would suffer as a result.  But when Geoff and Christine miss church, does it noticeably affect the rest of the body?  It affects the body when the pastor isn't preaching and there's a guest in the pulpit.  But why wouldn't the body suffer the same when Geoff and Christine are absent?  Each member has the same care for each other, after all. (1 Cor. 12:25)  I don't ever recall a time where I was told that the body had a more difficult time functioning because I wasn't there on a given Sunday.  People never tell me that we were missed greatly by not being there. Is the pastor more important than Geoff and Christine?  If so, then there is a problem with the church they attend.

Maybe Geoff and Christine have noticed (or maybe they haven't) like we have that fellowship with other Christian families involved in sports is often better than the fellowship at church.  Why would that be?

The answer could be that the problem isn't with the people who don't show up on Sunday, but rather with the church that doesn't truly miss its absentees; the church that is about program and structure and not people.