Christmas: the season of joy and hope. Or is it? For so many of us, Christmas is a time filled with conflict and relational problems. The good news is that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and in this season where we celebrate and remember His birth we can also learn to handle conflict God's way to make the most of this Christmas season.
The church has a big opportunity. God formed the church to be salt and light; to impact the entire world and show them how good God is. It's not by our doctrine, our buildings, or our holiness, but by our good deeds that people will see God in us. It's by our love working itself out in action for the people around us. When the church takes that opportunity seriously the world changes, because people change. This is not about the church. This is about the world.
In the book of Acts the mission of the local church could not be more clear. Unfortunately clear doesn't always mean simple. Every local church faces the same gravitational pull away from its mission to outsiders, grace, and advancement, and to drift toward insiders, law, and preservation. When that happens the church becomes ineffective, and in worst-case scenarios, can actually do damage to the name of Jesus. Big drift is the temptation. Big mission is the solution.
God has a purpose for his church, and he also has a purpose for each of us individually, but for many of us fear that we are unqualified keeps us stuck where are we. The Apostle Paul lived a life that should have disqualified him from the calling God put on his life, but it was exactly because he was a broken man that God used him to reach a broken world. Our calling is the same. God isn't looking for qualification, he's looking for faith to take a step.
Boldness in our faith is something that's unnatural in our culture, but boldness is what makes the movement move. Without the boldness of the early church the name of Jesus may not have made it out of the first century, but because of their extraordinary boldness the world changed forever. What might happen if we could recapture of that same boldness? How might our families change? Our cities? The world would never be the same.
How a church prays indicates whether or not it has strayed. So many of our American-Christian prayers are about us. "God, keep us safe." "God, protect us." "God, heal our sick loved ones." The problem is self-centered pray-ers create self-centered Christians, which create self-centered churches. The early church prayed for boldness to tell the world about Jesus, and the power of God to be at work in the world. It wasn't about them at all. They prayed for the sake of the world, and because of it the world changed.
Church. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? What if what comes to your mind isn't what God intended the church to be at all? The day the church began was a day of movement and momentum. It changed the world forever. And it still can.