Why Christians need churches, and “Lone Rangers” are against Scripture

Long-time Baptist blogger Centuri0n has written a post about the importance of the local church.

Regardless of whether you agree with everything he says about the state of the church, there is absolutely no doubt that it is God who ordained the church and God who called believers to be joined together in it.

I preached an entire message on this once and I’ll post that message when I get a chance. For now, here is a pertinent Scripture on the subject, from the Gospel of John:

13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

13:35 Thus shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

How can you do that by yourself?

Posted in Christianity | 4 Comments

Our struggles are God’s training program

Recently I was pondering my own life. Specifically, I was going through it year by year, to see what lessons I could learn. Also to spot patterns, to see where God might be leading me.

I spotted a few patterns. Two patterns, actually. Two patterns that have been consistent in my life up until now. Both of these things are normally considered negatives. Those that have them tend to gripe about them. Yet, here is the thing. As I pondered these two attributes, I was struck by the realisation that what I was really looking at were two mechanisms that God was using to train me up according to His purpose. When I saw this, I was able to embrace them and thank God for them.

For in Jesus there is a remarkable correlation between the extent of the trials and tribulations that we must face, and the power inherent in our calling. Those who are called of God to a powerful ministry will, like the apostle Paul, be taken through a gruelling regimen of trials. For those who have a “lesser” ministry (as we would judge it), they will have an easier life.

When we fully understand this truth, we need no longer gripe about our struggles, but rather we can embrace them like a brother or sister, knowing that God turns our struggles around for the good.

(This was originally published at my other blog a while back. It is reproduced above with a few alterations. Waddaya gonna do about it?)

Posted in Christianity, Life Lessons | 3 Comments

Christian teaching on relationships and resulting expectations

I’ve been through several courses and such designed to teach young people how to handle relationships.

These courses had several things in mind:
1. First of all, no sex outside marriage. This is very basic stuff in Christian circles.
2. No physical contact within relationships. Several Christian books on relationships have featured couples who did not kiss until their wedding day.
3. No relationships at all! A slight exaggeration, but certainly none for teenagers or even uni students
4. Only get into a relationship if you are sure that the other person is God’s will for you to marry. Note that you have to know this before getting into a relationship.
5. Courtship rather than dating, with as much parental involvement as possible.
6. Trust God to bring you someone; don’t look yourself.

Other relevant claims:
1. Never go below your standards in selecting a mate.
2. God will bring you someone you are attracted to.
3. If it is not for you to marry, this will be a calling from God and will be obvious.

But what are the underlying expectations behind this? It was never made explicit, but this , I think, was the implicit promise behind it all:
1. Live your life, study, work, etc
2. You shall have a comfortable middle class life, moving easily from study to a successful career
3. At some stage, probably no later than mid twenties, God will bring you your life partner. You won’t even have to do anything!
4. The S.O. will know it is God’s will for you to be together and so will you! Everything will just happen naturally.
5. The parents of both you and the S.O. will recognise it is God’s will.
6. There will be no hiccups, such as long-term unemployment or illness.
7. The S.O. will fit your picture of what a S.O. should be
8. There will be no false starts or break-ups. No unrequited love.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? A few flaws, though:
1. God uses hardship and difficulty to build character, including, but not limited to, unemployment, illness, unexpected singleness etc
2. God never promises to isolate believers from relationship break-ups, false starts, rejection or other issues.
3. The S.O. could refuse to join the party even if she knew it was God’s will. God does not force obedience.
4. It is very easy to mistake an emotional desire for another with God’s leading
5. With too high expectations, everyone is too good for everyone else and everyone remains single as a result.
6. With everyone not moving unless they know for sure it’s God’s will, noone ends up moving at all. You just don’t get that type of assurance early on.
7. In life, God normally requires us to take at least some initiative.
8. Even Spirit-filled parents can only usually guess at what type of partner is suitable for you
9. “Courtship” as opposed to “dating” confuses the issue and causes some to think that this magical new system will solve all their problems, whereas it creates new roadblocks and unfillable expectations
10. God never promised to supernaturally bring everyone’s marriage partners to them
11. Plenty of people do not marry due to lack of opportunity rather than a calling to celibacy. There are no guarantees of success.

Posted in Christianity, Romance | 14 Comments