Truth AND Advertising

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Something on the radio this morning set me off a little bit today.  I was listening to the Christian music station when an advertisement came on for one of the radio’s sponsors, which happened to be a church.  I don’t have a problem with church’s helping to sponsor Christian broadcasting by any means but it was how this particular advertisement ended.  The church (who shall remain anonymous) stated it’s name at the end and then made the bold statement “also known as THE love church”.  

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I had to let it sink in for a moment (I had only had one cup of coffee thus far).  “Wait, what?”,  I thought to myself.  “If they’re the ‘Love’ church then what are the other churches around them labeled as?  The “Hate” church?  The “NICE” church?  The “I kind of like you” church?  And after I asked myself that question another question popped into my head; “If that church has all the love” then what do the rest of the churches get?  Why are they only known as the love church?  Is it because they paid for this advertisement segment?  Did they give themselves that name?  

But…

I wish it only happened once in a while in segments on the radio station but it doesn’t.  I’ve driven by other churches that have seemingly snarky phrases at the bottom of their signs which make the statement – “BIBLE BELIEVING CHURCH“…Um okay.  So the other church down the street is NOT a bible believing church?  Or this church is just BETTER at believing in the Bible?  And who decides that this particular church and its congregation is strictly a bible believing church?  Do they pay bills?  Do they drive a car?  Do they pay taxes?   Then they’re not solely a bible believing church then are they?  By this one statement one could make the assertion that their claim to be strictly a bible believing church is false.  

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Still I’ve come across another sign over a church that made this dire statement:  “PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD”.  When I first saw THAT sign I thought to myself, “Wow their God sounds wrathful and fierce, would I even consider stepping into that church?”   

Here’s a truth that the Apostle Paul made that I believe ALL churches should hear again: 

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” -1 Corinthians 1:10-13  

I’m not picking a verse that fits my purpose, I really want churches to stop comparing themselves with each other.  This isn’t some sort of Church growth competition.  There isn’t some trophy a church will receive when they get to Heaven because they had the best advertising campaign or slogan on the front of their church.  Though Paul spoke these words to a specific church at a specific time, the point is still clear and relevant today: “There should be no divisions among you”.   Yet we can look all around us and see just that divisions and comparisons and envy and even hate.  I’m telling you this ought not be!

Regardless if a church advertises that they are “THE love church” the fact of the matter is that if any connecting part of the body of Christ is sound in doctrine and serving those less fortunate they are Christ to the lost AND they are the “Love” church too!  

I would say this to any and every Church out there:  Stop the competition!  Stop the comparisons!  Stop the divisions and underhanded actions.  We have real Kingdom work to do and it will never be accomplished by these ploys and vices.  Get on with loving your neighbor and enemies and stop plastering it all over the place…because we need each other and we all work for the same Master.

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Say “NO” to Divisions in the Church!

-Just a thought! 

So…a Liberal and a Conservative walk into a church…

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It might sound like the beginning of a good joke spiked with plenty of political jargon and party stereotypes but the truth of the matter is that this is often the case.  Although it is good to recognize what the differences are within political ideologies it is also most helpful to remember if both are Christ-followers the later should be of the utmost importance.  Before and even after our political allegiance must come our relationship with the Almighty.  If we have these priorities backwards (politics first, relationship with Christ second) then we will ultimately face a difficult road ahead which will either lead us to a reshuffling of priorities or taking exit lane on one of them.

County, state or even city governing politics in church is a very tricky subject of which I will not delve too deeply into within this entry, I will leave that for another day.  But is there a place for politics within the church?  Of course there is, but be mindful that God’s divine authority and governance should always precede that of any other political affiliation.

With that being said, do I believe there to be true practicing Christ-followers within both political camps?  Absolutely!  But even within that self-imposed question I find the crux of the issue, there is a division.  There is a line in the sand here that I think begs discussing. Has it ever been God’s desire for His people to be so divided over earthly things including politics?  NO!  Jesus even prayed over and for His disciples (John 17:21) so that “they may be one Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  Naturally there is a context here, which we must understand.  Jesus was praying for a select group of people as His message would be spread throughout the earth in their unity and mission.  But has that mission ceased since their calling so long ago?  NO!  We are still called by God to fulfill the great commission!  (Matt 28:16-20)

So what am I getting at in this simple discourse today?  I have three main discussions to challenge us with today:

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1) Stop the division among the church! 

When we draw lines in the sand around each other, and say cruel things about people who do not see the world as we see it we are guilty of drawing lines in the sand.  There becomes this “Us vs. Them” mentality within us.  We don’t see a unified body any longer, instead we see a splintered body who cannot get along.  Can you see how this might benefit our true enemy?  Can you see how Satan might truly enjoy twisting us into political pretzels over one or two issues and cause us to hate our fellow believer in Christ?

1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”  This passage says nothing about lording your opinions over another, nor does it say we draw lines in the sand, but it does remind us to be “like-minded”.  So how do we once again become like-minded?

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2) Common Ground:

Yes there may be political areas in which we may never agree upon.  But what are the things that we do agree upon?  Do we both believe Jesus was God’s One and only Son?  YES.  Do we believe that we have been redeemed by His blood and that because of Him we can find eternal life?  YES.  Do we believe that there is still a mission to fulfill in this world for the lost, the sin-sick, and the poor?  YES.  I believe we have common ground even if we cannot see eye to eye on some very specific issues within the political sphere of our world.  If we are to become like-minded once again then we have to stop demonizing those who we feel do not share our same political beliefs.

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3) Break down the barriers with helpful, loving discourse.  

Ephesians 2:14 “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…”

I recognize each verse that I have quoted has specific contexts but it still has something very powerful for us to apply to our own lives today.  We may not see eye to eye, but this shouldn’t stop us from discussing important issues together of which we share different views.  Be mindful that we don’t fall into the traps of division by name calling and condescension either.  We cannot afford to appear superior in anyway towards one another as we humbly discuss our differences.   When we are able to sit together, division lines are crossed and barriers, that have been erected, can be torn down.  Helpful and loving discourse, with Christ at the center, can lead us into deeper fellowship with one another even if we don’t always see eye to eye.

Jesus said;  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 

Is this over simplistic?  Probably.  But I believe it to be true.  Far too many Christ-followers have aligned themselves to specific political parties and have forgotten ultimately in whose authority we live and serve under.  If we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up.  May that be our call to unification in the body of Christ, as we seek to work together instead of tear each other apart.

-Just a thought for today.

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