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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Blessed Are Those Who See God in the Continuing Creation of Civilization

by Robert C. Frank

Just as the invisible gravity can be seen when objects fall to earth, our invisible God can be seen in the advancement of civilization. The whole purpose of God's Ten Commandments was to get the ancient Hebrews to work together peaceably and improve their civilization. The teachings of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection played vital roles in the improvement of civilization, but human concerns related to the link between forgiveness and eternal life produced conflicts that slowed the advancement of civilization. The work of the Holy Spirit in the production of the Bible and worldwide Christian Church made major contributions to the progress of civilization.

If God is still creating civilization, it is fair to ask, what would that perfect civilization be like that is the goal of creation? It seems to me that a perfect civilization would be like a perfect human team. (1) Everyone would have a different function, but is considered equally important. (2) Everyone would be happy with what they are doing because it fits their skills and they understand how they contribute to the team effort (4) Everyone would understand the importance of the other team members, enjoy being with them, and respect their contribution. (5) Everyone would understand the goal of the team effort. As a result, they would all live happily together in peace and harmony as a perfect civilization. 

Today with the aid of science, the more than two billion followers of Jesus in the world are continuing to create better lives for all people. While we can’t see God, we can see how God is continuing to create that better civilization. We are all needed to serve as God's assistants on Christ’s Team.

Friday, June 16, 2017

What is Christianity's Goal?

by Robert C. Frank

Eternal life is often thought of as Christianity’s goal, but the large number of lingering questions about life after death have led to confusion, conflict, and division. Therefore, wisdom suggests that Christians need a more unifying goal that concentrates on life in this current world and leaves decisions about life after death to God. Teamwork and outreach can be improved if a goal more appropriate for Christian effort in our current civilization is sought.

It is universally accepted by Christians that God is the creator of all human beings and they live on a beautiful blue and green planet that God provided. It is also accepted by Christians that the death and resurrection of Jesus have come to symbolize the assurance of God’s forgiveness of all humans when they request it. That permits them to lead more peaceful lives with each other. Information about the life of Jesus confirms that he was the ultimate servant leader who consistently healed and cared for people with a variety of problems and backgrounds. He taught his followers to love God and each other. In the world today, Christian mission programs are helping people everywhere live more healthy and peaceful lives.

A summary of the preceding paragraph suggests that a possible goal for Christianity could be to help all people on earth live better lives. 


That goal would be understandable to everyone, both Christians and non-Christians. It has already been a goal of Christianity for a long time, but not explicitly stated as Christianity’s goal.