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Disillusionment with the Church

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Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

I would contend that many of our disillusions with the church are based upon a wrong ethic. We misunderstand the true nature of fellowship in the gospel community. And therefore, we wrongly apply the ethic of other communities to the church.

The foundation of our fellowship is not the feelings we have for one another, as important as they may be. Neither is the foundation of our fellowship based upon the fact that we live in the same geographic place, educate our children in the same way, hold similar political views, or are the same ethnicity. No. It is the gospel that is the foundation of our fellowship. Nothing else. It is truth rooted and founded in the person and work of Christ that lays the structure, creates the realm, and the reality of our union with one another. The key to understanding biblical fellowship is that it is rooted in a spiritual reality, rather than something that is physical. The basis of our fellowship is spiritual.

Because our bond is spiritual, in Christ, in the gospel, the way we are related to each other is drastically different than any other entity on the face of the earth. Deitrich Bonhoeffer pointed out in his little book, Life Together, that because the Christian community is spiritual there is never any “immediate” relationship between its members. This is unlike every other community. Individuals in the Christian community never have direct contact. We are always related to each other through Christ. I am not bound to you because we share common things or you to me because we have similar interests. Our contact, our relationship, is always through and in Christ as He is revealed in the gospel.

This means that we don’t love one another for our own sake. The love we have for one another is for Christ’s sake, because it is always through Him. Bonhoeffer said, “human love seeks direct contact with the other person; it loves him not as a free person but as one whom it binds to itself. It wants to gain…Human love desires the other person, his company, his answering love, but it does not serve him. On the contrary, it continues to desire even when it seems to be serving.” Human love looks for something in return. But Christian fellowship is wholly something else.

We can live sacrificially for each other, because we are bound together in Christ, who meets our every need. I don’t need you to fill my cup, because Christ does. You don’t need me to fill your cup, because Christ already has. I can serve you truly sacrificially and you can serve me sacrificially, because we come to one another in Christ who is our all in all.

Many of our disappointments in the local church are rooted, founded, and based upon the ethic of other communities. We are disappointed and critical of our brothers and sisters in Christ, because they are not giving us what we want or what we think we need. But true fellowship isn’t grounded in what others can give us. Rather, it is grounded in what we have already received.

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jchristopherslice
1463 days ago
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This was convicting.
Clemson, SC
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Webcomic #6: Tautological proverbs

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jchristopherslice
1540 days ago
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pretty funny
Clemson, SC
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Heartbleed Explanation

28 Comments and 117 Shares
Are you still there, server? It's me, Margaret.
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jchristopherslice
1558 days ago
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Computer Science 101
Clemson, SC
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27 public comments
Jerom
1552 days ago
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Я больше шар не видел. Супер пост.
Moscow, Russia
tomazed
1554 days ago
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crystal clear
josephwebster
1557 days ago
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This is actually a very good explanation.
Denver, CO, USA
Tobiah
1557 days ago
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XKCD explains heartbleed
San Jose, California
Lacrymosa
1558 days ago
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good simple explanation of heartbleed
Boston, MA
expatpaul
1559 days ago
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The best explanation of Heartbleed I've seen.
Belgium
chrisminett
1559 days ago
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xkcd does it again!
Milton Keynes, UK
katster
1559 days ago
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Simple is good.
Sactown, CA
mitthrawnuruodo
1560 days ago
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Best explanation, yet.
Wherever
mrnevets
1560 days ago
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Heartbleed: a simple explanation. It affected a huge number of websites. Be safe and change your passwords!
macjustice
1560 days ago
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Best explanation yet.
Seattle
jkevmoses
1560 days ago
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Great explanation of Heartbleed that is causing internet security issues all over the place.
McKinney, Texas
srsly
1560 days ago
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You know I'm only sharing this because I've never seen a story this shared before. 56 people! 57 now.

I should get back to work.
Atlanta, Georgia
grammargirl
1560 days ago
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Clearest explanation I've seen by FAR.
Brooklyn, NY
smadin
1560 days ago
yeah, I think this does a very good job of making clear JUST HOW BAD this is.
glindsey1979
1560 days ago
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If you aren't a techie, this will explain the Heartbleed bug to you super-simply.
Aurora, IL
chrispt
1560 days ago
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Perfect explanation of how Heartbleed works.
37.259417,-79.935122
aaronwe
1560 days ago
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Perfect.
Denver
sfringer
1560 days ago
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In a nutshell!
North Carolina USA
JayM
1560 days ago
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.
Atlanta, GA
adamgurri
1560 days ago
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nice
New York, NY
bgschaid
1560 days ago
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You can’t explain it simpler and more to the point
bogorad
1560 days ago
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Умеет!
Moscow, Russia
gradualepiphany
1560 days ago
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Such a good explanation.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Covarr
1560 days ago
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Ah, now I understand.
Moses Lake, WA
rohitt
1558 days ago
Yes. Clear as a day
revme
1560 days ago
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This actually makes it really clear.
Seattle, WA
teh_g
1560 days ago
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Alt text: Are you still there, server? It's me Margaret.
Roseville, CA

Make It Work: The Complete Guide to IKEA Hacks & Projects

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You know the saying: give someone a fish and they eat for a day. But teach that person to fish and they eat for a lifetime? Wise words, and completely applicable to IKEA hacks. Because, we can show you good examples of “Before & After" projects all day long but, sooner or later young lady, you’ll find yourself standing in front of a broke-down MALM dresser and you won’t know what to do. And then where are you going to be? Huh? Can you answer me that?

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jchristopherslice
1602 days ago
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Clemson, SC
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When Tolerance Turns to Coerced Celebration

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last night vetoed what should have been a straightforward religious freedom bill. Minor clarifications to existing law got lost in an avalanche of gross mischaracterization as national pundits predicted the bill would usher in a "homosexual Jim Crow" regime with rampant denial of services by business owners to gays and lesbians.

The development is a stunning sign of increasing intolerance of basic protections for religious liberty. Actually, the Arizona bill would have given legal recourse to religious entities that decline to participate in celebrating same-sex relationships.

128940bThe legal freedom to live and love according to one's preferences does not imply that government should compel others to celebrate all relationships. The law should uphold the freedom to speak and to act publicly consistent with biblical beliefs about marriage.

A look at the text of the Arizona bill (a grand total of two pages) reveals the modest nature of the language and how national discourse misled the public about it. The bill said nothing about sexuality whatsoever. It consists of a few lines of edits to a state law protecting religious liberty. That law was modeled after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1993.

Purpose of the Amendment

The amendment proposed to Arizona law simply would have explicitly clarified that "person" in the law includes groups of persons—in other words, churches, associations, and businesses. This change would make the law consistent with RFRA.

One reason for the clarification was to protect Arizona citizens from the kind of government action brought against Christian businesses elsewhere when they declined to use their talents to celebrate same-sex weddings or commitment ceremonies. To suggest that such a protection for religious liberty provides a carte blanche to refuse any service to gays and lesbians is not plausible.

The bill merely provided the right for a sincere claim of religious liberty to be heard in court and judged on the basis that government may impose a substantial burden on such beliefs only if it proves that burden furthers a compelling government interest pursued through the least restrictive means possible.

It is a common religious teaching that marriage is the union of a man and woman. It also has become increasingly clear that associations and businesses need religious liberty protections to avoid being compelled to violate that belief. The quintessential case is the wedding photographer, and a wedding I attended last weekend provides a good example.

Like many couples, the bride and groom sought a storyteller to capture photographically the event symbolizing two becoming one. The photographer was practically an extension of the family for the day—in the bride and groom's respective homes beforehand, rallying the wedding party at the ceremony, mingling with guests at the reception. He alternately cheered and coaxed to capture the moments that told the story of the day in a way that would celebrate the couple's relationship. On his website afterward, the photographer thanked the bride and groom for making him a part of their wedding.

Coercing Christians to Celebrate

Considering such dynamics, a Christian photographer understandably could decide to decline participating in a same-sex wedding. Elaine Huguenin, who runs the New Mexico-based Elane Photography with her husband, Jon, did just that when a lesbian couple approached her to photograph their ceremony in 2006. The couple found another photographer (at a lower price) but hauled the Huguenins before the state Human Rights Commission, which decided against the business owners. The Huguenins lost an appeal before the New Mexico Supreme Court and have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not decided whether to hear the case.

When same-sex couples ask a baker to furnish a wedding cake (as one did in Colorado) or want their florist to design arrangements for their wedding (in Washington state), it amounts to a similar appeal for expressive, artistic talents to facilitate celebration of a same-sex relationship. For many Christians who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, that participation poses a conflict. They should be free not to contribute their celebratory talents. Instead, in these and other cases they've faced adverse government action.

Tellingly, some supporters of same-sex marriage see a problem with such coercion. It goes both ways, as one analyst writes: "gay photographers and bakers shouldn't be forced to work religious celebrations." Whether a given pundit or lawmaker—or even some other religious believers—would make the same choice as the Huguenins, the Washington florist, or the Colorado baker is beside the point. Religious freedom allows just such difference of opinion.

True Tolerance and Religious Freedom

Tolerance means recognizing others' right to refuse to celebrate what they don't agree with. Religious liberty protections defending that right take nothing away from anyone. But compelling celebration certainly does.

This caricaturing of religious liberty in Arizona should be a wake-up call that prompts more Americans—particularly religious believers—to seek out the facts and to steward our freedoms more diligently.

Editors' note: Jennifer Marshall will be speaking at The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference, June 27 to 29 in Orlando, on "When the Rubble Seems Too Much: Cultural Stewardship in Our Generation."

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jchristopherslice
1603 days ago
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Clemson, SC
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How to Stop Misusing the Word “Hypocrisy”

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Dictionary_HBoston College philosopher Peter Kreeft:

The common, modern misunderstanding of hypocrisy [is] not practicing what you preach. . . . Actually, we have misdefined “hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy is not the failure to practice what you preach but the failure to believe it. Hypocrisy is propaganda.

The great art critic William Hazlitt (1778-1830):

He is a hypocrite who professes what he does not believe; not he who does not practice all he wishes or approves.

The American Heritage Dictionary:

[Hypocrisy is] the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.

Inigo Montoya:

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

HT: Joe Carter

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jchristopherslice
1603 days ago
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Clemson, SC
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