Roanoke Church of Christ



The above words are those which have appeared on billboards around Roanoke, and I assume other areas as well. They have been placed there by atheists who are inviting other non-believers to join them in sharing their ideas about life. As you can imagine, this has caused no little stir among some Christians. Two of the signs have been vandalized by either blotting out the “Don’t” or just the “n’t”. I would imagine this was done by teenagers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were adults. Either way, they are not Christians, and any Christian who would try to justify such destruction of property is not a Christian.

I’m always frustrated at how easily Christians feel the need to defend God, as if God needed to be defended. Note that I said “God”. I did not say the nature or the fundamental ethic of God. Loving ones neighbor, which comes from a higher form of love which we see as the Divine, i.e., God, are things to be defended. The defense of those who are abused and mistreated is a distinct human characteristic attributed by believers to our being created in the image of God. The basic tenants of the Ten Commandments are part of every human society, in one form or another. Those practices are what separate humans from animals. Now, I also know that there is evil and cruelty among humans that goes beyond that of animals. For the most part, it seems animals operate from a survival instinct. Humans can plan evil for no other reason than the satisfaction of causing pain, violence and destruction. However, the fear of a sign or a negative comment about believing in God that would cause destruction of property or violence is not Christian. It is reminiscent of the actions of those who murder teachers and female children in countries where the Taliban fears the education of females. That is an offence to God, among others, that should be opposed.

It is much easier to defend the idea of God than God’s ideas, meaning compassion, love, self-sacrifice, etc. While for some the existence of God is not to be questioned, we have a dickens of a time agreeing on what God wants from humans.

There is an interesting irony in discussing the place of warfare or dealing with conflict in view of God. Some feel there should be no involvement by the Christian. There are atheists who feel the same way. Of course, there are both Christians and atheists who feel differently. The irony is in those men and women, (human beings) believers and atheists alike, who will give their lives for complete strangers, in conflicts ranging from war, to fire and police men and women, or teachers who die trying to shield children not their own from a crazed gunman. We can include in that any time one human being gives up their own life to save, or attempting to save, another. What is it that makes human beings ready to do that? Social evolution? Or something higher commonly believed to be “God”?

This is not about whether God exists or not. This is about how those who believe in God live, and if they are more passionate about defending God, or defending fundamental human freedom, equality, and treating all other human beings as we would want them to treat us, as much as is humanly possible. Such things are the bedrock of humanity and are believed by theists (believers in a deity) to be the proof of a divine power whose nature makes humans distinct from all other living things. Does that prove God exists? Not to everyone. The problem is many atheists have been conditioned by the abuses and denials of those who claim to be Christians. On the other hand, Christians see atheists as those people who believe in nothing, therefore they are to be feared as evil and violent. Believe it or not, there are believers in a deity who are violent as well as those who are kind and loving. The same is true of atheists, and, I should add, agnostics; meaning those who are not sure either way. Being a caring, ethical person is not limited to the Christian. In fact, a relevant question for the Christian is why they are trying to be a person who lives the teachings of Jesus? Is it so they can go to heaven and escape hell, or is it because it is the way they believe God-given life should be lived?

CONCERNS: Keith Wagner’s sister, Betty Billings, is in the hospital in Fairhope, Ala. with blood clots due to a fall and surgery. Jenni Cullum is still in Lewis Gale Med Center, room 625. She will start therapy soon and will then be on the forth floor. Judy McWhorter’s sister, Jan, has been told her heart condition is not as bad as first thought. Erma Williams has a co-worker who has asked our prayers for her 10 year old nephew, Regan, who has been diagnosed with stage 2 brain cancer. They hope to get him into St. Jude’s. The outlook is not good. In this cold and flu season we have several who are shut-in due to such illnesses. Among them are Martha Foy. Those being treated for cancer are Deana McRoy, Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick, Connie Crites brother, Jim Hunter, Joni Beach’s mother, Sharon & Billy, friends of Del Bolin. Remember Martha Foy’s mother and father, Ray Reiss, Ron Matney, Alma Martin and Tim Elder.

Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-17
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12

The New Year is just turning a page on a calendar, but it always represents the sense of a new beginning. As we begin 2013 the following note on a Christmas card from Diane and Lewis Sturm expresses the nature of this congregation. It’s a good way to think about the place we have had in the lives of others, as well as each other day to day. After explaining their pride in showing off their grandchildren, they wrote: “We miss getting to spend time with you, our family and friends, but always know that you remain in our hearts. We pray that God’s love will bring you peace and happiness throughout the coming year.”

The correct dates for the next time we will prepare the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House will be next Sunday evening, January 13. That one will be hosted by adults. On Wednesday, February 6 the teenagers will help the adults prepare and serve the meal.

Sunday, Jan 6 (today) will be the day the poinsettias will be adopted. Judy Hall bought the ones in the windows and she may want some for a local nursing home. Please do not take the little “dish” under them. We reuse them.

Sometimes announcements are not heard, so remember we are helping repair and replace the roof on one of our family’s home. It will be paid for by the church, but if you would like to help defray the cost, please give your gift to anyone on the steering committee, or mark your check “roof” and drop it in the collection basket.

Now that the holidays are past we are back on schedule for the Wednesday evening soup supper and Bible study. We just finished Titus and are looking for something else.
By the way, when Keith was in Nashville, his nephew said his church had started doing the Wednesday evening soup supper to boost attendance for the evening.

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