Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.” Writers have said many practical things about human behaviour. The following are a few of them:

If we wait until we feel like doing something – spending time with family, cleaning the garage, visiting a friend in the hospital (or calling your parent on Mother’s Day – Tim) – chances are we will wait a long time.

It is helpful that to learn to act ourselves into a better way of feeling, rather than to feel ourselves into a better way of acting. In other words, we have to act better than we feel.

The point is, we shouldn’t wait until we feel like doing something good. Those who don’t feel like it do most of the good in the world. Said one writer, “Be sure that behaviour will ultimately change our feelings.”

We should not waste time bothering whether or not we love our neighbour – act as if we do. As soon as we do this, we will find one of the greatest secrets: When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him or her.

– David Johnson, with revisions from Tim

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

Last Apostle

When John wrote his three short New Testament letters, he was an elderly man. It is highly likely that he was the last living apostle of Jesus Christ. He had contributed the Gospel of John, and the great book of victory, Revelation. The shortest of his letters is 2 John; it only has 13 verses. It would have been one of his final letters. As in the case of the book of Revelation, did he write it in exile on the island of Patmos? We can only speculate.

And what did the last apostle have to say in one of his last letters? He reminded us to love one another (v5), uphold the truth (v2), and refuse deceivers (v7-11). THE TRUTH dominates his thoughts. Everything dear to Christians is built upon it. Even love for one another is related to it; “…whom I love in truth” (v1).

It was a violent time in the Roman world and John writes in a discreet way. Rather than identify the congregation of the church that was to receive his letter, he calls them “the chosen lady and her children” (v1). A fellow congregation is mentioned as “the children of your chosen sister” (v13). It is John’s love for these churches that shines through the ages. He speaks of love four times in the letter. They were people in the Lord “whom I love in truth” (v1).

The challenge for us is not just to walk in truth, but to love the church as John did – and to love it in truth. Love without the truth is just sentiment. God calls us to a higher love for His people.

Our care for the church is not because our building is convenient or some of its members may be relatives. We love it for the sake of the truth, because its people know the truth and walk in it, and because the truth abides in them forever.

The last apostle laid down a challenge for all succeeding generations of Christians – love each other in truth.

– 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

Marathons

With several people in our congregation who like to run for exercise, let me tell you about Ed Whitlock. This runner is now 85 years old and lives in Milton, ON. He was born in England and began to run while in school. He broke many records competing in university, but gave it up when he moved to Canada. At 41 years old he started again. At 48, he ran a marathon in 2½ hours, then at age 72 he became the oldest person in the world to run it in less than 3 hours – a record he still holds. He didn’t stop there. At 81, he broke the world’s record for the half-marathon for a man his age. What possesses a man to run like that when most people in their 80’s just like to get out and take a nice walk? It has to do with the desire to excel.

Now, I don’t recommend that the seniors among start running races. But let’s think about the need to excel in our run towards heaven. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Heb.12:1). Jesus wants us to live our lives in a way that radiates excellence and endurance. It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 85, all of us can excel at living for Jesus.

If a man like Ed Whitlock can break records at an advanced age, surely we can excel in godliness, kindness, love and patience in life too. Run with endurance.

– Tim Johnson