Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Is the Body of Christ Being Created?

by Robert C. Frank

Traditionally that would be asking whether the worldwide Christian Church is being created, but even that is not a topic of common discussion in the world today. A description of the Body of Christ is presented so well in the 12th chapter of the 1st letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, that one would expect it would always remain one of the most popular topics for discussion in Christianity. 

 In that Bible passage, the Apostle compares the followers of Jesus to the parts of the human body and notes that they are all different but are required to depend upon each other to accomplish their purpose. The followers of Jesus in the world today are more of a loose collection of individual volunteers rather than the cohesive unit the Apostle thought they would become. 

 The problem is that when human beings are required to coordinate their activities in a dependent way, that takes learning and practice. It does not come naturally. For example, a husband and wife cannot create a successful family unless they make an effort to learn how to depend upon each other. They must give up part of their individuality to become something even greater, the creators of new life and the Christian family. 

 The same is true on a larger scale for the followers of Jesus. They cannot become the Body of Christ unless they learn and practice how to depend upon each other in their efforts. They still retain part of their individuality, but by learning how to depend upon each other in a coordinated effort they become something even greater, a super civilization on earth called the Body of Christ or in today’s world Christ’s Team.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Three Ways We Observe God's Love

By Robert C. Frank

There are three ways we observe God’s love in the world today. They are as Creator, Teacher/Redeemer, and Holy Spirit. The following are my understanding of those three ways.

God, the Creator. God is the source of all creation including the continuing creation of civilization on earth. God keeps creating more children and all human lives are gradually being improved. God’s creation is carried out with the assistance of human beings. Some people have creative ideas and some help make it possible for those creative ideas to become reality. Those who help God turn creative ideas into reality include parents, doctors, nurses, teachers, financiers, engineers, accountants, construction workers, factory workers, and custodians.

Jesus, the Teacher/Redeemer. During his life on earth, Jesus taught servant leadership through words and examples. He taught people to love and take care of each other by healing the disabled and feeding those who were poor. He taught servant leadership to his twelve disciples and those who came to listen to him and told them to teach others. His death and resurrection brought the assurance of God’s forgiveness to all who seek the healing power of forgiveness in their lives.

God, the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the spirit of God associated with teaching humans about Jesus was called the Holy Spirit. Part of the work of the Holy Spirit was the creation of the Bible, the written record of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the earlier history of the Hebrew people. The continuing work of the Holy Spirit is to unite all followers of Jesus around the world to form the Christian Church, a team effort to improve the lives of all people.

Thus, God's love can be observed in the continuing creation of a better civilization on earth involving servant leaders who love and care for all people and work together in a team effort.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas: A Time for Love and Teamwork

By Robert C. Frank

How should we understand Christmas in the 21st Century? Christmas has always been a time to honor Jesus Christ and it was intended to be a celebration of his birth. However, his actual birth date is unknown and information about his birth and early life is so limited that his birth was not celebrated until the 4th century. Since the specific date of his birth was not known, the Christian leaders at that time decided that it should be celebrated on December 25 because of the need for a winter holiday and a pagan holiday already existed on that date. So, Christmas became a holiday jointly celebrated by both Christians and the secular world and it has retained that tradition even today. 

 During his life, Jesus became the ultimate servant leader by loving and caring for everyone his life touched and teaching them to also become servant leaders aiding each other. When asked which was God’s greatest commandment, he said, “Love God with all your heart and mind and love others as yourself.” Translating those commandments into the civilization of our modern world means that every single life is equally important and human relationships are preserved by teamwork and forgiveness. 

In our world today, Christians celebrate Christmas by attending church services where they share their love for God and each other. Listening to the beautiful Christmas music produced by the teamwork of choirs and musicians is an unusually inspiring experience. Parents spend extra time with their children decorating the home, preparing the food for Christmas dinner, sharing gifts, and playing games. Everyone works together to make each other happy. That is the wonderful life that Jesus taught us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Churches United in Gratitude

by Robert C. Frank

Recently a group of neighborhood churches in Rock Island, Illinois celebrated Thanksgiving together again, this time at a Roman Catholic Church. The tradition started many years ago when a group of Christian churches, each a few blocks apart on the same street, decided to get together on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving to express their gratitude to God.  

The original group included a Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, and Lutheran church. Later they were joined by a Presbyterian church, another Baptist church, and a Jewish synagogue. It is an exceptional Thanksgiving service because it involves the combined contributions from the rich traditions of each of the different churches. The Old Testament lesson is read in Hebrew and the New Testament lesson in Greek with English translations provided. All the choirs contribute their special music. The offering is in the form of non-perishable food to restock the Food Bank used to help needy families in the area. 

Despite the many different church traditions, they understand that God is the source of all creation including human beings. Thus, an appropriate common goal for all churches is caring for God’s creation and creating better lives for all human beings. In recent years, transportation, communication, and medical science in America have improved dramatically so most people are living healthier, happier, and longer lives. It is an exceptionally appropriate time to express gratitude to God for all these benefits. (An updated version of a blog posted in November. 2015.)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Contributions of Jesus, Apostle Paul, and Luther to Teamwork

by Robert C. Frank

At the time that Jesus lived, all major leaders were kings or emperors who exercised total control over everyone else in their realm. Jesus Christ was unique in that he was a servant leader instead of a monarch. He taught others by example to also become servant leaders. Servant leadership is an enabling form of leadership that emphasizes that every human life is important, and leadership is to be shared. Servant leadership is the basis of democracy and teamwork in government.

The Apostle Paul, studying the life of Jesus, came up with an excellent example of diversity as a part of teamwork in 1 Cor. 12, where he compared the followers of Jesus to the parts of the human body and called them the Body of Christ. The human body consists of parts that are all different, but they function as a single unit by their superb ability to work together. Teamwork is like that in that all the members of the team are different and have different abilities but they all work together in a coordinated manner toward a common goal.

Martin Luther lived at a time when Christians were led by a hierarchy of leaders, some of whom wanted them to pay money to decrease the time they and their family members spent in purgatory before getting into heaven. Based on what he found in the Bible, Luther proclaimed that God’s forgiveness was a free gift and that all followers of Jesus were equal. This “priesthood of all believers” concept adds strength to modern Christian teamwork.

The success of teamwork depends upon communication and education which historically have improved with the aid of science. However, science has also improved with the aid of Christian teamwork.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Role of Science in the Celebration of the Reformation

by Robert C. Frank

Science has been an important aid in the spread of the Gospel and yet it has rarely been acknowledged as a gift from God. At the time of the Reformation it was the availability of the printing press that made it possible for so many people to read Martin Luther’s views and provide support. The printing press was also useful for providing multiple copies of the Bible so that more people could read it. The printing press did not suddenly appear by magic. It was the result of early developments in science and technology. 

This fall as the Reformation is celebrated, science and technology have made it possible for people from all over the world to travel to Germany. Christians can now carry several versions of the Bible on their iPhones. eBooks like the Kindle can be used by people with poor vision. If Martin Luther were alive today, we could all watch him present his views on YouTube video-clips on the Internet. The answer to virtually any question that we might have about the Bible or the Reformation can easily be found on the Internet using a computer. 

 At the time of the Reformation only a small percentage of the people could read or write. Today, because of advancements in science and technology, literacy throughout the world is improving rapidly. Dramatic achievements in education have occurred because of the cooperation between Christianity and science. God is using that relationship to create an improved civilization on earth. It is time for all Christians to be aware of that and thank God for the gift of science as they celebrate the Reformation that assured us of God’s grace and forgiveness. More about how science aided the spread of the gospel can be found on the slide presentation here.