Love Kindness

What sort of people should we be in a world full of conflict, poverty and hardship? In a peaceful land, such as our own, perhaps we are a little insulated from such things. However, we do have the poor among us, and many people struggle with illness and unemployment.

As an answer to our question, there’s a great description in Micah 6:8 of what God wants to see in His people. “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” The statement follows an indictment of the paltry efforts of Israel to approach God. They thought He would be happy with them if they offered a great number of animal sacrifices and expensive oils (v6-7). But without the right character and attitudes, this would fail. The world cries out for justice and kindness; so does God.

What about us? We are rightly concerned about proper worship, and obedience to the New Testament directions of what we should be as His church. But like Israel of old, this would amount to little if we neglect humility, kindness and justice.

Look at the way he phrases these things. “Do justice,” not just appreciate it. “Love kindness” (mercy), implying a great interest in being kind to others. “Walk humbly with your God,” which eliminates arrogance and a failure to notice the struggles of other people. God wants us to be obedient to Him, but He also wants us to develop the right character.

The church can’t solve everybody’s problems, nor can we tackle all the world’s hardships. But we can be just, kind and humble. Didn’t Jesus say the same? “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice.” (Matt.9:13)

What kindness do you plan to do for someone else today?

– Tim Johnson

Lights in our Community

Jesus said in Matt.5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” With the dawn of 2017 upon us, what should the people in our community – especially those near our church building – see in us? Here’s a few thoughts.

1. A godly people. In our profane, modern society people should see something better in the Lord’s people. Peter said, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet.1:14-15).

2. A kind people. There are needs all around us, and our neighbours should view us as people who are concerned for them. We can’t deal with everybody’s problems, but we can be kind. Paul said, “…Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col.3:12). Will people view us as cold and indifferent, or warm and helpful?

3. An engaging people. If we want the community to be interested in our message, we must be open to them. People have questions and wonder about who we are. Peter, who wrote about the church’s relationship to the world, said, “…always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet.3:15).

4. An enthusiastic people. Many religious groups practice rituals with lukewarm habit. The community needs to see us as people who are happy and enthused about the faith. Few are interested in religion that is sleepy and dreary. “Therefore, gird your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13).

5. A people of the truth. Some think the church should accept everything and stand for nothing. More respect is given to those who know the truth and stand on it firmly. John wrote to “all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever” (2 Jn.1-2).

Let’s be determined to let our light shine effectively in 2017.

– Tim Johnson

The Seed of the Word

Having had our first snow of the season, it seems like a sad time for gardeners. All the beautiful flowers they have worked hard to nurture are now wilted and need to be pulled out and sent to the landfill. But the wonder of it all is that within six months, many of those same flowers will emerge from the soil and bloom again. What looks dead now is merely dormant; it’s how nature preserves itself through the winter.

There have been times in history when the church has declined and almost passed away. While the religious groups of the world have thrived through politics and endless catering to men and their desires, the church of the New Testament seemed to disappear.

Jesus often compared the spread of the gospel to the seed sown by the farmer. “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows – how, he himself does not know.” (Mark 4:26-27). Like seeds of specific plants, they can only produce the same plants. Tulips can’t produce roses, nor can mums make dandelions. The seed of the word of God will produce New Testament Christians, who are the church that Christ built. If the church of the Bible seemed to disappear in the past, perhaps it was just dormant for a while, then new life appeared once again.

The power of the gospel is that it can deal with sin and save souls. It’s like a powerful seed that only produces one thing: Christians, who are members of the body of Christ. The seed that made Christians in the first century also makes Christians today, for it pays no attention to the period of time in which it does its work.

Some say the church in Canada is declining. If that is true in some areas, it’s also thriving in others. Let’s not hinder our work by fretting about it. Rather, let’s dedicate ourselves to the truth and share it. Let the seed do its work.

– Tim Johnson

Just One Can at Skydome

All of us are well aware of the Blue Jays fan who threw a beer can on the baseball field in the middle of play during the seventh inning on Tuesday night. It outraged everyone because it almost hit the Baltimore Oriole’s outfielder who was busy catching a fly ball. The police were quick to enter the stands to find the culprit, but were unsuccessful. The entire Orioles baseball team was upset, and the fielders felt threatened. This dangerous can-toss has been condemned in Canadian newspapers and by hosts of news people on television and radio. They used words like “embarrassing,” “inappropriate,” and “reprehensible.” Needless to say, the entire city of Baltimore is upset, and people all across the United States feel disgusted with Toronto baseball fans.

Now let’s think about the unfairness of this. There were 50,000 fans at the game, and the actions of just one of them has spoiled the reputation of everyone present. Sure it’s unfair, but that’s the way the human mind works.

Let’s apply this to our actions as members of the Lord’s church. We’re told in 2 Cor.5:20 that we are “ambassadors for Christ.” We are faithful spokesmen for our sovereign, and our actions can enhance what we’ve been called to do, or dishonor it. What comes out of our mouths can be godly and pure, or disrespectful and foul. We can not only spoil our own reputation, but that of the entire church in the eyes of the community. It’s vital that we live and talk in a way that gives the world the best impression of the name “Christian.” Jesus deserves our best; let’s strive to give it to Him. Never be guilty of tossing a big mistake into the reputation of Christ’s church.

– Tim Johnson

The Refugee Team

If you watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics a week ago, one particular team drew the close attention of the crowds. Of the 206 nations who sent athletes, one of them was a team of displaced people. Its 10 members come from refugee camps scattered across Africa and other areas. Some of them are victims of war, others fleeing poverty and persecution. It’s amazing that in such difficult circumstances each of them have learned to excel in a sport, and now they have been sent to the Olympics.

Can you imagine the good that these disadvantaged young people will receive from such an experience with Olympic athletes for 16 days? They’ll be coached to do their best, find self-respect, learn about people everywhere, and make precious new friends. Who knows what great things they will do in future years as a result?

The church is very much like that. It’s comprised of people from all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old, and from just about every nation on earth. Through Jesus, the church takes lost people and saves them, mentors them, helps them deal with their troubles, encourages them, and equips them for service, helping them to excel. One of the greatest things the church offers is friendships in Christ – the love of good people.

The apostle Paul put it well in Ephesians 2:19-20. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone…”

Whether you feel displaced, or feel very much at home in our community, you have been given membership in a group that God blesses and protects. And it lasts a lifetime, not just 16 days.

– Tim Johnson