Get radical for Jesus

Luke 19:10 tells us why Jesus came: “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The Church is the body of Christ. Pastors and members are leaving the church daily. People are leaving the church because the church has left the people.

The church is silent on black-on-black murders, murders, police killings, poverty, education, immigration, health care, LGBT issues, hate crimes, women, church shootings, domestic violence, jobs, housing, political leadership racism and other issues. I wonder if church leaders watch the news, read the news or, more importantly, know their members.

In his book “Jesus and the Disinherited,” Howard Thurman demonstrates how the Gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised. Jesus is a partner in the pain of the oppressed, and the example of His life offers a solution to ending the descent into moral nihilism. Hatred does not empower — it decays. Only through self-love and love of one another can God’s justice prevail.

I would like to see the church get radical for Jesus and preach the liberating Gospel of Jesus. Sacred and powerful words however delivered are not enough. The church has to stand on its faith and preach a message of hope and deliverance that speaks to the everyday struggles we face.

— Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston

Unite around the basics

In 2018, I would like to see the Church universal simply get along with each other.

The Scriptures say, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13-14).

And also: “I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23).

The fact that the different denominations under the umbrella of Christianity can’t seem to get along is one big reason why more people aren’t members of churches. And if they’re not members of churches, then they are probably not hearing the Good News while living in fellowship and service with other Christians. And if people aren’t living in fellowship and service with other Christians, there is less and less likelihood that people are going to hear (or see) the Good News from or in us.

I admit that I too struggle with understanding and acceptance of other Christians who interpret the scriptures differently than I do. But I also know that if the Body of Christ is going to be strong, then I have to get over that.

Every Christian believes that Jesus was born, died and was resurrected for the forgiveness of sins. That is the core tenant of our common faith. All the other stuff becomes less and less important when we let it interfere with our ability to join hands and share the Gospel together.

If we can do that, then we will accomplish Jesus’ goal: “Then the world will know that you sent me and loved them even as you have loved me.”

— Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)