Jesus said those who follow his teaching will be known by their fruits. Also that a bad tree can’t bear good fruit, or vice versa. (Matt.7:16ff)
Christianity certainly has good roots. It is rooted in Jesus Christ. However, like the parable of the evil sower who came to the field at night and sowed bad seeds, its fruit became corrupted.
When? The fact is, the corruption has always been a factor. If you read the book of James it was going on then. It had to do with who was of first priority in the congregation, and who was not. So James has to say, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
We spent a lot of time preaching on that “keeping oneself from being polluted by the world” without keeping it in the whole context of the letter. The world’s pollution is that which makes us arrogant, selfish, loose-tongued, prejudiced and willing to “murder” someone who isn’t like us. What this produced then and now, are church-goers who cause pain by their words and actions.
History records vividly the words and actions of those who called themselves Christians. We can’t escape the images of the inquisition, the killings and burnings of the Protestant Reformation, nor the persecution that drove people to America, and then the witch hunts in the New World. We could add the way we treated the African slaves, and all the things “Christians” opposed (and still do) that stood for equality and justice.
That legacy is unescapable. It stands before us every day. The word “Christian” sends a chill down most non-Christian’s backs. The bad roots and the bad fruit taints the very word “Christian”. If the “world” used the word “Pharisee” it would be next word to come to mind. “Pompous, judgmental, arrogant and self-righteous” are the words they use. This is compounded by the way most Christian efforts try to do what they believe they are to do to “save” the world.
The world knows our agenda. Our job is to convert them. Of course it is for their own good to “save” them. It’s a “Be baptized or I’ll drown you” attitude. So the world (the sinner) knows we are only interested in them so we cane save them. We are not interested in them just because they are a human being. They know we only see value in them if they convert. They know that all the good we may do and offer is hinged on if they will become like us. They know the attention we pay to them is not free. It is not a gift, given unconditionally. It has a price. Knowing that, why should we be surprised they don’t want anything to do with us? They know we will really only “love the sinner” if the sinner becomes a saint.
I asked Sunday why the notorious sinners in Jesus’ day were drawn to him and not to us. Neither were they drawn to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Why? Because they knew they only had value if they measured up to the accepted standards of what was considered right living. They knew they had to do something, to change, before they would be accepted. That’s where Jesus was different and somehow he got it across by the way he acted and treated them. He “welcomed” them to eat with him. He had only one agenda, to make sure they knew they were accepted and loved, without any conditions. He was not there to convert, but to show love. (Is love not the power that changes?) To show that he found their company not repulsive, but enjoyable. Making a convert was the last thing on his mind. The first thing was to give his unconditional acceptance as a friend. The most important thing is to know we are worth finding, just as lost as we are. “He’s the friend of sinners!”
Until we can do what Jesus did in the spirit of grace that Jesus gave, freely, with no condition of return, we will find the world wanting little to do with us. They will not become part of something that counts heads and has no heart. Something that leaves a rotten taste in their mouth.
When Christians are known as the people who go about doing good, (Acts 14:17) who paint and build houses, clean up after storms and work for all kind of good, without asking for anything, anything, in return, then Jesus will be seen in us and that will be all that is needed.
Martha Foy’s dad, Larry, is having some problems with pain in his muscles that is nearly immobilizing him. He is having tests. Connie Crites’ father’s condition is somewhat worse. A dear friend of Martha Foy’s has terminal cancer. Pam Pierce is still gaining strength for upcoming surgery. Joni Beach’s mother is doing as well as can be expected. Zona Fisher is still having blood pressure problems. Her brothers, Roger and Tim are dealing with cancer. Jen Wagner’s father is improving each day. Continue to pray for Melanie Almeder (treated for cancer) Mike Breeding (Ron Matney’s nephew) heart problems. Polly Altice and her son, James. Isabell Simmons. Helen Nicklas, Julie (stroke) Teri Burks and Trixie Long. Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer), Barbara McCauley, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents Int., Bread For A Hungry World and the relief efforts going on in all the countries damaged by earthquakes and storms.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 7-12
Monday: John 1:35-51
Tuesday: Revelation 1:4-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 6:7-20
Thursday: Luke 17:11-19
Friday: Philippians 2:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 98:1-9
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 14-19
Monday: Daniel 6:6-28
Tuesday: Mark 4:26-41
Wednesday: Psalm 136:1-26
Thursday: Matthew 7:1-6
Friday: Acts 23:11-35
Saturday: Psalm 135:1-21
Our sympathy is extended to Joann Wagner and all her family in the death of her mother, Jewell Racer. She died on Sunday, May 23, in Victoria, TX. She was 98 years old.
The funeral was held in Barbersville, WVA on Saturday, May 29.
Jo and all the family thank the congregation for the cards, kind words and the flowers which helped ease the pain of her death .
Former member Cozetta Mays died suddenly at her home in Cross Lanes WVA on Memorial Day, May 31. The funeral was in Charleston. Keith Wagner and Mike Ross officiated. There will be no official grave-side service here in Roanoke. However, the interment will be at 1:00 on Friday, June 4 at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens and the family would welcome those who want to drop by.
OUR WEB SITE
We can add a little award on our web site. We were “hacked”! We don’t know who or how, but it has been fixed, at least until we can acquire more security. In the mean time we can only imagine who might have decided we needed to be invaded
By the way, the mass e-mail mailing of the bulletin seems to be working well now. Check the web site on google at roanokechurchofchrist.com
Thanks to Erma Williams for teaching the training class for VBS High Seas Expedition Saturday, May 29. And thanks to those of you who came for the training.
A WORD ABOUT CAMP
We did not have camp this year due to several conflicts that left us with such a small number that we decided to regroup and do some other things. However, Camp Bethel has invited us to come back anytime we want. Perhaps next year we will be able to do it again. In the mean time we are planning a couple of things that will involve former campers. They will be announced.
Congratulations to Alice Blessing in coming in third in the Roanoke Star singing competition over the Memorial Day weekend. This was Alice’s first competition and she’s going to try again next year.