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
It is a surprise to some people that Christians are often called saints in the Bible. The word doesn’t refer to exemplary people of the past who’ve been given sainthood by religious people. Such a notion was popular in the middle ages, a time when entire church buildings were designed to hold reliquaries (ornamental containers with physical remains of a saint inside, such as bits of hair, etc.). In the Scriptures, all Christians are saints.
The word means holy one, or one who has been made holy by God. In the Greek text, saint and holy come from the same word. One is a noun and the other an adverb. The verb form is sanctify. So what is the Bible telling us? Those who obey the gospel are made holy before God. Colossians 12 says that God qualified us to receive the inheritance of the saints. We don’t become saints by heroism or martyrdom; God makes us saints through Jesus Christ. Continue reading
Friendship is a precious thing. It’s rare in life to have close friends for any great length of time. But in Christ it is different.
At the end of John’s 3rd letter he said, “The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.” (3 John 14). Why did John put it this way? Why didn’t he call these Christians brethren, or saints, as others did? He was trying to make a point that the church needed. Three men are mentioned by name in this little book: Gaius, Demetrius and Diotrephes. Gaius was commended by John because he helped faithful, traveling Christian preachers financially, and provided hospitality; Demetrius was likely one of them. Diotrephes was a church leader who loved to be prominent, and refused to help said traveling brothers, even to the point of denying them fellowship. Who do you think proved to be a friend to Christians? Continue reading