Saturday, January 11, 2020

Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork

by Robert C. Frank

The whole world needs better teamwork including families, churches, governments, and international relations. It is a subtle part of the Christian gospel that has been hovering in the background for thousands of years waiting for it’s time to be acknowledged. It is related to the servant leadership teachings of Jesus Christ during his life. Teamwork requires people to work together in a very special way noted by the Apostle Paul when he compared the followers of Jesus to the parts of the human body (1 Cor. 12 ). 

Each part of the human body is different and has a different function but must make its contribution when needed or other parts of the body will not be able to function properly. If the lungs aren’t doing what they need to do, the hands can’t do what they need to do. All of the members of a team depend upon each other. A baseball team cannot do what it has to do if the catcher isn’t there.

In spite of the Apostle Paul’s brilliant analysis of what is expected from the followers of Jesus, Christian leaders have not placed much emphasis on interdependency. Christianity has mostly emphasized each individual’s personal relationship with God. As a result, the members of church congregations tend to function as loosely connected volunteers. The interdependency of members is rarely mentioned in sermons so weekly attendance at church services is typically in the range of 20 to 30 % of total membership

Perhaps it is time for Christian leaders to take another look at the Apostle Paul’s comparison of the followers of Jesus with the Body of Christ and study it from that perspective.
(This is a repeat posting of an essay posted in October 2016) 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

When the World Becomes the Body of Christ

by Robert C. Frank

For the past few years we have had an opportunity to see how hateful and disconnected life can become when love and teamwork are lacking. Love and teamwork are closely related, but not the same. Love makes teamwork possible while teamwork makes love functional. 

Love can be defined as a deep feeling of affection or attachment. Love brings people together. When asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself.” The word love is mentioned many times in the Bible, so it is well understood in Christian circles. 

While not using the word “teamwork,” the Apostle Paul provided an excellent example of it when he called the followers of Jesus the Body of Christ in 1 Cor. 12 in the Bible. He was anticipating that they would work together in a manner as well coordinated as the parts of the human body. In our world today the characteristics of a team are the following: (1) Each member has a different skill, a different task, and a different view of the team effort; (2) The activities of the team members, however, must be coordinated so they support and don’t interfere with each other; (3) All members of the team must work toward the same goal. These characteristics are why teamwork is so important
.
Despite periods of dysfunctionality such as that recently experienced, civilization on earth seems to be gradually moving toward a point when love and teamwork will prevail. Someday in the years ahead, when the mission of Christianity is fully understood and followed, civilization on earth will become the peaceful Body of Christ. Thoughts to ponder at Christmas. Perhaps theologian Richard Rohr's new book The Universal Christ will help.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Richard Rohr's View of the Universal Christ

by Robert C. Frank

Popular Christian writer Richard Rohr’s new book has the title, The Universal Christ and greatly expands our understanding of Christianity. Christian tradition, perhaps unintentionally, tends to focus Christianity at the foot of the cross. In his book, however, Rohr sees the presence of Christ everywhere and considers Christ to be part of God’s creation in which we are God’s assistants. 

 At one point, in theological language, he says,(1) “If we see the Eternal Christ Mystery as the symbolic Alpha Point for the beginning of what we call “time,” we can see that history and evolution indeed have an intelligence, a plan, and a trajectory from the very start. The Risen Christ, who appears in the middle of history, assures us that God is leading us somewhere good and positive, all crucifixions to the contrary. God has been leading us since the beginning of time, but now God includes us in the process of unfolding (Romans 8:28–30).” 

 While Rohr uses a different approach and different language, his writing provides support for the book Christ’s Team, which is also about the role of Jesus Christ in God’s creation. The Prologue to Christ’s Team includes the statement, “Christian tradition emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ as redeemer, but human history has verified that he also came to teach humans how to work together and care for each other. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, his followers have become a Team dedicated to carrying on creation, improving human life, and managing our planet.” The book emphasizes that as God’s assistants, we are aided by science in our effort.

 1. Rohr, Richard. The Universal Christ (p. 95). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, 2019

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Christ's Team Was Designed for Christian Outreach in an Evolving World

 by Robert C. Frank

The Holy Bible, the major book of Christianity, is actually a library of books used by pastors for sermon topics in their churches. It contains over a thousand pages of stories of wisdom and conflict. Christian organizations sometimes hand it to new members to introduce them to Christianity but due to its great length and complexity, it is poorly designed for Christian outreach. Even when studied by theologians and Bible scholars, it often leaves the reader with many unanswered questions.

A book designed to be handed to people who have minimal or no Christian background should be short and well-focused on the basic principles and practices of the followers of Jesus. It should also be written in the everyday language of the people who will be reading it and not sprinkled with words from the ancient language of the church.

Christ’s Team was specifically designed for Christian outreach in an evolving world. It is a short summary of the basic principles and practices of Christianity, written in common secular language, and laid out in a simple and logical manner. It also includes brief statements about how science has aided the spread of Christianity.  In addition, it contains answers provided by human history to some questions not treated in the Bible, such as, “What impact did the teaching of Jesus during his life have on the history of civilization?” After reading the book, Dr. George L. Murphy, author of  Toward A Christian View of A Scientific World  wrote, “I think the book should be helpful especially for the increasing number of people who don't know much about the faith and are unfamiliar with the traditional language.” 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Role of Christianity in the Moon Landing

by Robert C. Frank

We Christians tend to lock God in a book, when God intended the book to open our eyes to learn how to live better lives. The Bible contains a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Corinth in which he told them about his understanding of the life of Jesus and he compared unified followers of Jesus to the parts of the human body that are all different but work together in a coordinated manner (1 Cor 12). He was describing teamwork in the 21st century.

Today, as we view the discussion on TV of the preparation for the journey to the moon in 1969, we realize that it took a huge team of human beings with different capabilities working together in a coordinated manner to make it possible for a few astronauts to land on the moon. There were thousands of people involved in designing and testing rockets, capsules, and communication systems. Years earlier there were even parents raising children not knowing that they would be the astronauts.

Often without realizing it, Christians, in their churches, have been teaching human teamwork for over two thousand years. A large percentage of the people living in the U.S. have been taught the principles of Christianity and thus have learned teamwork. Perhaps God used the moon landing miracle to get our attention and remind us that we can solve most of our problems by working together in teamwork. Just imagine all the wonderful things that could be accomplished on earth today if everyone worked together in a coordinated manner like the members of the large team that made the moon landing possible. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Bible and God's Continuing Creation

by Robert C. Frank

My wife and I read parts of our Bible each morning when we have our devotions. It seems important for all of us to remember that our Bibles didn’t suddenly pop up on our bookshelves. God, through the Holy Spirit, created the Bible over a long period of time with the assistance of many human beings.

 While none of the original manuscripts written by the Apostles have been found, there are many copies of those writings that still exist. Their authenticity is affirmed by the fact that they agree so well with each other. Since there were so many writings, large groups of people called councils had to gather to decide which were truly inspired by God. Finally, in 397 AD, a group of these writings that were believed to be authentic were chosen to be included. They were called the canon of the Bible.

 However, it wasn’t until about 1450 AD that the first printed Bible was produced by Johannes Gutenberg. In the years since then, many humans, working together and aided by science and technology, developed methods for producing large numbers of Bibles in many languages and forms. Their availability encouraged humans to learn to read. As a result, the Bible has played an important role in the improvement of civilization in the world. 

  While God, through the Holy Spirit, created the Bible over a long period of time with the assistance of humans, it is important to remember that God is still with us. So as Christians it seems we should be exploring other ways that we can assist God in continuing the creation of civilization on earth.