Tag Archives: hope

15 Ailments of the Church #13: Wanting More

Read Matthew 16:24-27

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” (Philippians 4:12 NLT)

money-grabAh, lucky number thirteen. Yes, you heard me right, I just love the number thirteen. I was born on the thirteenth and have always felt that the number thirteen was kind of my lucky number. It is true that the thirteenth chapter of Revelation is the chapter about the rising of the beast that is to be known by its number, six hundred and sixty-six. It is true that many since the eradication of the Knights Templar have held the superstition that Friday the 13 is an unlucky day. But the truth for me has always been that thirteen is a great number, and there for I am excited to be writing about Pope Francis I’s thirteenth ailment of the church.

Ailment of the Church #13: Wanting More. We are living in a culture of excess. There is nothing, relatively speaking, that we do not have in terms of materialistic stuff. We have nice houses, easy access to whatever stores we want, cars to take us from point a to point b in no time at all, and we have technology to do practically everything for us. We have our food grown and/or raised for us, harvested and/or butchered for us, and often times cooked for us at any one of our many choices of restaurants. Our holidays are feasts that could feed third world countries, our houses have enough power to light up said third world countries, and our lifestyles literally gorge on the vital resources that could majorly benefit third world countries.

With all of that said, we are living in a culture that is literally eating iteslf to death. No, I don’t merely mean this in a literal sense with the high rates of obesity, heart disease, and preventable cancers (though that is a part of it); rather, I mean this in a much more all-inclusive way. We are so full to the brim with everything we could ever want, and yet we are always hungry for more. What’s sad is that this is not just pervasive in our society; however, this sort of disease is prevalent in the church as well.

As the church, we should be content in all things. Whether we have tons or we have nothing, we should be grateful for everything. We have been given, literally, the keys to eternal life and the power to usher the Kingdom of God into this world; however, that’s not enough is it? We have found ourselves wanting of more. We want bigger churches, with bigger and more sustainable budgets, and higher attendance. Individually, we the members of the church want the same sort of lifestyle found in the world. We want more stuff, we want more status, we want more power. But Christ, has called us to deny such things, to pick up our cross and to follow him.

So, which is it? How long will we continue to be mired by the stuff that consumes us and, if we continue to be stuck in this mire, how much longer can we really call ourselve Christians? Are we still Christians at this point? Are we still followers of the Christ who forsook all status and power in order to bring us redemption and life? Christ is calling us to something better than the stuff we are seeking after! Christ is calling us to something better than the mire we find ourselves in. Christ is seeking to heal the disease that we have brought on in ourselves through our covetous desire to have more. Today’s challenge, perhaps our life’s challenge, is to stop coveting, to stop wanting more, and to be content in all things.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Happiness consists not in having much, but in being content with little.” – Marguerite Gardiner

PRAYER

Lord, create in me a contentment in all things that I may move forward and being a living example of the abundance that is in you. Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #12: Having a Funeral Face

Read Romans 15:1-13

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 NRSV)

Dead-RosesWhat does a Christian look like? Can you tell one a part from anyone else in the world? What sets a Christian a part from the non-Christians, apart from the Christian’s profession of belief in Jesus Christ? Are we joyous, happy, loving, caring compassionate, understanding, patient, and forgiving? Or, when the world looks at us, does it see a reality that is far different than  our own self-perception of ourselves? I could go in a different direction with this, but for now, I will stick with the next of the Pope’s 15 Ailments of the Church.

Ailment of the Church #12: Having a Funeral Face. The church is supposed to be a people of hope, a people of unending joy, a people are are moved by compassion, and a people that are driven by love. Yet, in reality, the people of the church fall well short of that. First, let me remind you that by church I do not mean the building that people worship in. That is a place of worship, but that is not “the church.” Yes, most of the time when people enter our places of worship they see a happy people. But happiness and joy are two different things. I am not so certain they find joy when they walk into our doors.

When people see the church, whether it be within a place of worship, within a Christian organization, or within our community and/or the world, most people see a people who are angry, judgmental, manipulative, cut throat, filled to the brim with deceit and overflowing with the unholy art of slander through gossip. What’s more, they see a people who are cynical rather than hopeful. They see a people who are sullen as opposed to a people who are filled with God’s joy. They see a people who are fearful rather than a people who are faithful.

This is what I believe Pope Francis I calls, “Having a Funeral Face.” Christians, if we truly believe what the Bible and our own collective experiences tell us, should be acting as if they are at a great wedding celebration…not as if they are sitting at a funeral waiting for the body of the dearly departed to be brought out for burial. We should be joyful, hopeful, faithful, full of excitement and inviting of others to join us. Everyone LOVES a good party. Everyone loves to get invited to a great party; however, no one loves attending funerals and no one is bound to get excited about a funeral dirge.

We, as the church, need to get excited again. We need to take off our funeral face and throw it into the fire. We need to remember that we celebrate a RISEN and LIVING CHRIST. We are called to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and to partake in it, so that others may share in the same hope we have. Christ is calling us to be the people the church was called to be. Christ is inviting us to leave the funeral and rejoin the wedding. The door is open and the opportunity presents itself. Will we be a people consumed by the death of our very own faith, will be consumed by our own funeral sores? Or will we be resurrected with the LIVING CHRIST and live a life of pure and eternal joy and peace? Will continue down the road of hopelessness, or will we be agents of God’s hope, healing and wholeness. The choice is ours to make.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“The dead do not know the value of white sheets.” – Haitian Proverb

PRAYER

Lord, thank you for breathing life into me. Guide to a better way of living and expressing my life in you. Fill me with your joy, your peace and your love! Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #11: Being Indifferent to Others

Read Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” (James 2:17 NLT)

Wall-of-ApathyWe live a world of coup d’état. Every time we turn around people are being undercut, taken out of the way, disposed of and replaced by people who don’t seem to be any better than the ones they’ve replaced. All anyone has to do is to turn on the news to see plenty of examples of this happening, especially in American politics. People who would otherwise be political allies are throwing each other under the bus in order to win an election and/or make political gains. Of course, in world and/or national politics this sort of thing is expected. What’s sad is that it has become expected over the years in the Christian church as well. This leads us to Pope Francis I’s 11th Ailment of the church.

11th Ailment of the Church: Being indifferent to others. If one were to ask a Christian what the mission and purpose of the church is, my guess is that “being indifferent to others” wouldn’t even make the list! Jesus certainly wasn’t indifferent to others. He may not have liked everyone he came into contact with, he may not have agreed with everything everyone believed, and he definitely got angry with certain people and certain angers; however, Jesus was NEVER, EVER indifferent to them.

Many people think that hatred is the opposite of love. The truth is that hatred is NOT the opposite of love. In fact, sometimes there is an extremely fine line between love and hate. They are too close to each other, emotionally speaking, for them to be opposites. What is truly opposite of love is apathy. Apathy is literally a lack of care, enthusiasm, interest and/or concern. In other words, apathy is indifference and indifference is ultimately the opposite of empathy which is closely related to sympathy and includes the following attributes: compassion, care, solicitude, affinity, concern, etc. In reality, apathy is the opposite of love.

Yet, the church often fails to have empathy and often falls into the category of apathy. People have too often been used as a means to an end rather than being the end unto themselves. People with in the church have cut other church members down in order to advance their agendas, their positions and/or their beliefs. The church has cut different groups of people down, apathetic to whether or not their actions are damning or damaging to the people who fall beneath their judgment. Individual Christians and churches alike will often justify not helping someone because of excuses they come up with that, consciously or unconsciously, are really nothing more than constructed walls to hide an underlying apathy for the people they are avoiding helping.

Jesus is calling the church back to empathy. That doesn’t mean that the church will agree with everything, or that it will affirm everything…but that in all things, in agreement or disagreement, the church will both care enough to RESPOND and to RESPOND LOVINGLY. A loving response is not necessarily a a response of love or affirmation…but one that seeks to build the other up, even when it requires a bit of tearing down. Christ wants a church that is engaged with and active among others, as opposed to just being a country club that is engaged and active with itself. That kind of activity serves no purpose, but the kind Christ seeks IS THE PURPOSE of the church. Don’t undercut, don’t view people as disposable, removable, and/or replaceable. Don’t seek to use people, indifferently, as a means to an end, but view people as the end unto themselves. Be engaged and be active in ways that show the empathy, love, compassion, care, concern, and solicitude of Christ our Lord.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” – Jesus, the risen Christ (Revelation 3:19 NLT)

PRAYER
Lord, I never wish to be indifferent or apathetic. Spark in me a passion to act according to your will. Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #10: Glorifying One’s Bosses

Read Romans 13

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9 NRSV)

GettyImages_71897390All I have to do is turn on cable news to remind myself that I simply DO NOT like politics. Actually, it reminds me of ancient Rome and all of the in-fighting, maneuvering, slandering, backstabbing, and power-grabbing reminds me of ancient Rome. Julius Caesar worked his way up the ranks and nearly claimed being KING…only to be assassinated by his friends who didn’t want to see him have that kind of power…who were in turn executed for treason by the great nephew of Julius (someone who never would have been named an “heir” by Julius himself)…who then makes himself Emperor for life. Of course, once that life is extinguished, a whole new slew of Emperors take power, are corrupted by the power, and are assassinated by people who then, in turn, take power and are corrupted by it. And this is just Rome we’re talking about. We now will turn our eyes to the church.

Ailment of the Church #10: Glorifying One’s Bosses. A lot of people will say that they do not like politics. In fact, I opened up this devotion with that very statement. When that is said, I think most people realize that politics are a vital part of how our society is held together. We all, everyday, live according to and are held accountable to the social contract that governs our society. Without that, one could argue that complete chaos would ensue because it would be each for his/her own. Whether or not that is true, and there others who would argue the other way, politics are a reality within the governance of a country, society or institution.

And that is just as true within the church as it is in any other organization. Along with the positives that we can find in being organized, comes all of the negatives as well. In churches, at the denominational level as well as at the local level, we find in-fighting, maneuvering, slandering, backstabbing, and power-grabbing that is commonplace in all organizations. We have people who think one way pitted against others who think another way. We have people who look up to positions and status within the church hierarchy in ways that bring glorification, value and power to those positions and statuses.

This issue of “politics” goes well beyond the walls of the church and into our everyday lives. Do you consider yourself a Christian? If so, have you ever sought a position of status or power? Have you taken measures to ensure getting into position. Have you competed against others for positions and/or statuses? Have you ever in used the phrase, “the end justifies the means?” I think when we all pause and think about this for a moment, we can all say, “Yes, I’ve done that.”

I am not trying to knock success, or structure, or healthy competition, or positions of responsibility, or even power. These things can, and have been, used for good; however, when we glorify those things above Christ, when we seek them out at all costs, when we neglect our call as Christians or, worse, when we allow positions, statuses, and power define us as Christians, we’ve abandoned Christ and failed to be Christ’s true followers. We have been called to make Christ our valuable treasure that we seek. We are called to make following Christ our life’s goal. We are called to seek out and invite others to join us, as equals, in embracing the status of “children of God.” So let us drop the politics and HONOR God by picking up that identity, embracing it, and sharing the GOOD NEWS of it to all the world…just as the CHURCH has been commissioned by Christ to do.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a church becomes like this, it grows sick.” – Pope Francis I

PRAYER
Lord, help me to move beyond my own struggle for position, status and power so that may be solely focused on you and your will for me. Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #9: The Terrorism of Gossip

Read Romans 1:28-32

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. ‘Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD.’” (Leviticus 19:16 NLT)

evildead_620_101512I can clearly remember my time in Elementary School. I remember that I was not quite in the “popular” group, in fact, I wasn’t “popular” at all…whatever that actually means. I remember what it was like being someone who was being talked about, I remember what it was like having rumors spread about me. By the time I was a junior in high school, I had given up trying to be liked by people. In fact, I used to spread rumors around about myself to see how fast they traveled back to me. Have you ever played that game?

The truth is, I wasn’t guilt-free in the department of participating in gossip, either. None of us are. Each of us have, no doubt had rumors spread about us and we all have, no doubt, participated in the spreading of rumors. What’s worse than that being done in high school or in the world, where it is common place and expected, such gossip is just as prevalent in the church and in the lives of Christians as well. This leads us to Pope Francis I’s 9th Ailment of the Church.

Ailment of the Church #9: Committing the Terrorism of Gossip. According to Paul, we who follow Christ are all a part of Christ’s resurrected body. What does this mean? This means that we are supposed to have died to our old ways, we are supposed to have died to our sinful nature, and we are supposed to have resurrected from that death into a new life. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)! If we have died to our corruption and resurrected back to life, then we shouldn’t be living corruptible lives. Gossip is, perhaps, one of the greater corruptions within the church and it is a blasphemy against the Spirit of the living, resurrected Christ.

In fact, Pope Francis I calls Gossip a form of terrorism and, honestly, it truly is. Anyone who has been gossiped about knows that terror and damage that it causes. It damages one’s psyche, it damages one’s self-image, it damages one’s soul. Conversely, those who engage in gossip are in great peril themselves because they are hardening their own hearts, growing calloused, and the gossip is consuming their own souls. Like the demons in the movie the Evil Dead, gossip enters in and it consumes who ever participates in it. It destroys them and it seeks to destroy the people being gossiped about as well. How can gossip ever have a place in the body of Christ? It can’t, and the truth is that those who continually engage in it separate themselves from that body.

Christ is calling us to stop the terrorism of gossip. We were not meant to participate in such a pernicious sin, one that so closely walks the line between sin and evil. If you are one who is engaging in gossip, if you are one who engages in cutting people down behind their backs, if you are one who slanders people and murders them with your words, then Christ is calling you to die to that part of your life. Let that be nailed to the cross so that you may join Christ in the resurrected life. We, as Christians, are filled with the Holy Spirit and are new creatures in Christ. We are the ones who have been called to bring the hope, healing and wholeness of Christ as opposed to the despair, decay and death that comes from the terrorism of gossip. I pray that you are freed from those bonds that you may live into the resurrected Christ.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” – Miguel Angel Ruiz

PRAYER
Lord, forgive me, I pray. Kill any traces of gossip within me and heal me from the times that I have been gossiped about. Resurrect me into a new life, free from gossip and any other kind of slander. Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #8: Suffering from ‘Existential Schizophrenia’

Read John 17:17-14

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.” (Galatians 5:19-21a NLT)

imagesWhen Jesus commissioned his disciples to build his “church”, he knew that there were going to be bumps along the way. He knew that divisiveness, bitterness, jealousy, infighting, politics and other things would creep into it. How did he know that? Because those things affected his disciples while he was he was with them. If that was a reality with him there, it would surely be a reality when he was no longer there to guide them. The truth is that humans so easily lose sight of their calling, as well as to whom they owe their allegiance. We get so caught up in our own self-interests that we end up serving ourselves as Lord as opposed to Christ…but we do so in the guise of serving Christ. Hence Pope Francis I’s next Ailment of the Church.

Ailment of the Church #8: Suffering from ‘Existential Schizophrenia’. When we lose sight of who we serve and the calling that has been placed upon us, we fall into what the Pope is calling ‘Existential Schizophrenia’. That’s a fancy way of saying that we end up hypocritically living double lives. On the one end, we claim to be Christians and we claim to be serving Christ; on the other end, we have lost our way and have stopped actually serving Christ. For a Christian, this is an existential crisis.

One of my favorite modern-day theologians and philosophers is Søren Kierkegaard. In his “Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the ‘Philosophical Fragments'”, Kierkegaard (writing pseudonymous as Johannes Climacus) tells a story of a pastor who preaches that one ought “not to depend on the world, and not upon men, and not upon yourself, but only and alone upon God; for a human being can of [him/herself] do nothing.” He then goes on to say that a spy was at the service, heard the sermon and wanted to see if people understood the message. When asked, everyone stated what a powerful and true message was preached on that Sunday; however, each person then contradicted their supposed understanding of the sermon by stating that they were responsible for doing this or that. Even the pastor, when the spy complimented him on his sermon, stated how hard he had worked on it. The spy was perplexed because he discovered that no one truly believed what they were claiming.

Of course, Kierkegaard (of which I captured the essence of his parable…not necessarily the exact parable itself) is using humor to make a broader point. Many Christians claim one thing, but live out something completely different. What’s more, they do so in ways that are far more egregious than a contradiction in belief. For instance, Christians claim to believe that we are all apart of the body of Christ, that we are all equally important in carrying out Christ’s mission in the world, but then they bicker, fight and cut each other down in order to climb the proverbial ladder up the ranks.

This kind of behavior, this kind of existential schizophrenia, is damning for the church and it’s mission to spread the love of God in the world. If we cannot get our own act together, how can we ever expect people to see Christ’s message as Good News? We need to remember who we follow. We, as the church, need to remember Jesus’ prayer for his disciples prior to his arrest. We need to put our self-interests aside and make God’s hope, healing and wholeness our interest. Remember that when you bear a name, you represent that name. If you are bearing the name of Christ (e.g. CHRISTian), then you are representing Christ. Let’s represent Christ faithfully by living and serving AS Christ called us to.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“I invite everyone to choose forgiveness rather than division, teamwork over personal ambition.” – Jean-Francois Cope

PRAYER
Lord, help me to rise above the existential crisis of the church and into the glory of your hope, healing and wholeness. Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #7: Being Rivals or Boastful

Read Matthew 20:20-29

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NLT)

1304abandonedThe discples had been traveling for days in order to get to their destination. When they arrived at the upper room, they sat down at the table and Jesus began to speak. “Blessed are you, my disciples, for you know just how powerful I am. You love me and recognize that I am the most AMAZING person to have ever walked on earth, let alone water, and so I leave you with these rules. Only you twelve are ordained to do ministry, to lead the flock, and to carry on the life of the church. When you unanimously decide who will succeed you, only my power will transfer onto them, and from them onto their successors. Everone else is to listen mindlessly to you and have blind faith in what you say. If anyone disagrees with you, crush their opposition as harsly as you can.”

Ailment #7: Being Rivals or Boastful. I bet you are puzzled right now! You are probably thinking, “There is no way on God’s green earth that Jesus said the things that he’s written above!” If so, you are right. The above words are NOT Jesus’ words; however, they are the words that the institution of the Church convey to people, both the faithful and the unfaithful alike! Again, the Pope was addressing this to his Curia; however, this is not exclusive to the Roman Catholic Church. This is a church-wide reality. Every denomination is rife with rules, regulations, and stipulations on what is reserved solely for the upper eschalon of the church, for the clergy, and for the lay people. And within the laity, certain people have more “rights and privileges” than others.

Before I go on, I must put this caveat out there. Not all rules, regulations or stipulations are bad. As clergy, I understand why it is important for the church to weed out those who don’t have the gifts and graces for pastoral ministry from those who do. It’s not so much to say that one is called and the other isn’t; however, it is the church’s way of both affirming that all are called and helping to discernt to what each person is called. Not everyone is called to be a bishop, or an elder, or a deacon, or a treasurer, or a committee chair person. Yet, all are called to be ministers in their own right and the church should helping all Christian to discern where their gifts and graces are.

Often times, though, the church gets in it’s own way when it comes to that discernment. Often times, it crushes the Spirit rather than giving it room to move. Often times the church gets caught up in power plays and power struggles and abandons the Spirit altogether. This happens at the denominational level, at the local church level, and at the individual Christian level as well. The only thing that this does is cause rivalry and division in a church that is supposed to be united in its mission to follow and serve Christ.

Today’s challenge for you, individually, is for you to reflect on the following questions. Have you been giving room for the Spirit to move, or have you been crushing the spirit under petty and oppressive rules, regulations and/or stipulations. Have you been claiming the power of God, or boasting in your own powers and abilities? Are you following Christ or are you following yourself? Are you helping to discern the Spiritual gifts and graces of others, or are you deceiving them to think that they NEED you in order to be followers of Christ? These may be tough and painful questions to ask yourself; however, they are questions each of us, as Christians, should be asking of ourselves. Like Jesus, we should be empowering people with the spirit, not hoarding what isn’t ours to hoard anyway. Remember you are empowered by the Spirit to empower others through the Spirit and that in this empowerment, not false power, lies the LIFE of the church!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” – Aristotle

PRAYER
Lord, allow me to give up whatever power I think I may have, in order to be empowered by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #6: Spiritual Amnesia

Read 2 Peter 1:1-9

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The LORD is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:39 NLT)

al0124c_1_bigHave you ever had amnesia? I can tell you, from personal experience, that it is most definitely a terrifying experience. It happened to me on a Summer afternoon, the summer going into my freshman year of high school. I was riding my bicycle with my sister down to the local gym to workout. I was looking to go to football camp and tryout for the football team. Just as I had done so many times before hand, I crossed the road to go down a side road that brought me to a “safer” spot to cross the highway. The only problem is that I did not look both ways as fully as I had thought and ended up getting hit by a pickup truck. From that point on, and even to this day there are spots of time that I cannot remember as a result of the accident. For instance, I can remember being surrounded on the side of the road by the first responders, but I cannot remember getting to the side of the road. Anyway, all of this talk about amnesia reminds me of Pope Francis I’s sixth ailment of the church.

6th Ailment of the Church: Spiritual Amnesia. The Pope actually called it Spiritual Alzheimer’s; however, I am not comfortable using that terminology because of the real pain term could unintentionally bring to people who are suffering from real Alzheimer’s disease, as well as their families. So, I have chosen to use the word amnesia because it functions the same way. Basically, the Pope’s point is that there are leaders and laity who have forgotten their own encounters with the Lord. Such people, though they claim to be believers and followers of Christ, rely on the here and now, on their impulses, and on their unchecked emotions. Such people build walls around themselves and become enslaved to human institutions, rules, regulations and other things that are built with their own hands. This, as the Pope rightly points out, is really a form of idolatry, for the worship their own ideas of God rather than actually worshiping the transcendent God, the One who transcends their ideas.

It starts off simple. People forget the Lord whom they have encountered. It’s not that they forget that they have encountered God per se; however, it is that the God they encountered ends up getting hidden behind all of the things they have put in place of God. Whether it be the religion, the church, the denomination, the traditions of a local congregation, a particular interpretation of the Bible, a specific image of God, or anything else that gets in the way of our truly worshiping God, those things repress and eventually choke out our memory of the Lord we have encountered in our lives.

Christ is looking to jog your memory. Christ is calling you to place aside those things that keep you from remembering Christ and Christ’s call on your life. Don’t let your whims, your passions, your ideas, and/or your walls of separation keep you from remembering your experience with the one who called you into the life of the church to begin with. Take a whiff of the smelling salts, wake up, and remember your Lord and all that God has called you to be  and do. Remember that you are called to serve, not to be served. You are called to love just as you have been loved by God. You are called to care for the “least of these” and to do so as one of them, not as one above them. Guard yourself against the perils and disease of spiritual amnesia so that you can experience the true joy of the Spirit-filled life!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“We do not remember days, we remember moments” – Cesare Pavese

PRAYER

Lord, thank you for encountering me and revealing yourself to me. Help me to both remember those moments and to never forget them. Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #5: Working Without Coordination

Read 1 Corinthians 12:20-30

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35 NLT)

cso_muti_aboutMusic is the thing that makes the world go ’round. It is the key to the universe, the universal language, something that affects all it comes in contact with. Right? There are studies that even state that music positively affects plant-life, so the next time you try to plant a garden make sure it is close to the bathroom window so the plants can hear you singing in the shower. All jokes aside, music has long been thought to be a driving force of the universe. Pythagoras discovered the mathematical basis of music and also noticed the same patterns of movements of the moon, the stars and the planets. Interesting, right? What’s more interesting is how this all connects to the Pope Francis I’s 5th ailment of the church.

5th Ailment of the Church: Working without coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. A symphony works when instruments, each playing different parts at the same time, come together to produce a harmony of notes. We call that harmony a “chord”. Music is made up of these chords and what makes music different from “noise” is that the notes and chords coming from the instruments are all working together harmoniously. But what happens when the guitar decides to play a G major when it is supposed to be a flat, and when the Clarinet decides to play the fifth measure at the precise moment it is supposed to be playing the thirty-fifth, and the violin decides that it is going to play staccato when it should be playing legato, etc.? What happens when the pianist decides to play Liszt’s version of Danse Macabre while the choir is supposed to be singing the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony? The result would truly be NOISE! There would be no harmony and everything would be chaotic and discordant.

The truth of the matter is that Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth has become so cliché anymore that we completely overlook his call for the church to view itself organically as the body of Christ, made up of many parts. We use the phrase “body of Christ” so much that it has become meaningless for us. We all fight and bicker and politically maneuver around other brothers and sisters in Christ in order to get what we want. Christ stated that we would be known as his followers because of our love for one another and, yet, we seemingly don’t have a whole lot of love for one another, do we? When Paul said that we are “the body”, he didn’t mean that YOU are the body of Christ, just that you are a part of it. And by part, he didn’t mean that you were the best part, or the greatest part, or the most important part, but that you were a part being called to do your part.

But again, that has become very cliché; so, perhaps it is best to look at this in terms of an orchestra.This is not the Todd Lattig show, or the Pope Francis I show, or the United Methodist Show, or the Roman Catholic show, or the Baptist show, or the Evangelical, non-denominational show; rather, this is the Jesus Christ show and we have all been invited to participate in making music for Jesus Christ. NOTE: I am talking about making “Christian Music”, but about being a part of the symphony that God has been writing since the outset of the world. It’s a love song, a kind of transcendent number that moves within you and and changes you. It is the kind of number that has you both dancing and standing timelessly still in infinite space. The question is, can you lay down your ego to join this orchestra? Can you make music, or are just going to keep on making noise? The choice is yours. Continually pray that the church, yourself included, will give up its self-motivated pride in order to see that the true SELF is Christ and that we are all a part CHRIST’s SELF. Now that is a song that transcends NOISE and is worth listening to!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.” – Gaius Sallustius Crispus

PRAYER
Lord, daily remind me that my life is yours and that I am a part of something far greater than myself. Amen.