Living the Christian life in this world can be tricky. Biblically speaking, believers in Jesus are subject to the Kingdom of God. God is our Sovereign Ruler, and our allegiance is to His Kingdom. We also live within the kingdom of this world. Scripture calls Satan the "ruler of this world." Daily we are confronted with the decision to either bow to the rule of God's Kingdom or the world's. Add to that our national identity. Christians in America tend to be patriotic people. We love our country. Many have risked their lives for the flag of this nation. What happens, though, when the law of our nation collides with God's ruling? How do we balance conflicting kingdoms?
Join our online worship services over the next two Sundays, June 28th and July 5th, as we investigate the Bible's teaching with regard to your Kingdom Allegiance.
Dear Church Family,
I met with the Deacons of Quaker Gap Baptist Church on Tuesday evening, June 16th to discuss plans for the future regathering of our church body in light of the national COVID-19 crisis. We have decided by consensus to continue our current strategy throughout the months of June and July. We will meet at the end of July to discuss plans for August, taking this one month at a time.
Please understand that we are dealing with a fluid situation. If we were to make this decision based on our preference – we would already be together in the building. But there are more factors involved than simply what we want. The number of hospitalizations and deaths related to the coronavirus persistently rise in our neighboring counties. We continue to be cautious in our approach, not wanting to endanger anyone in our church family or create a situation that will affect the community at large. Our decision has been affirmed by local health specialists.
In the meantime, we continue to offer Sunday Worship Services and Wednesday Evening Bible Studies online, as well as periodical blog posts. We encourage adult Sunday School classes and Small Groups to meet in the picnic shelter or at other outdoor locations if possible. You are welcome to join a class, even if you have never attended Sunday School. Our children participate in Zoom meetings on Tuesday evenings at 5:30 PM, as well as lessons sent by email. The Youth Group has been meeting in the Picnic Shelter on Thursday evenings at 7 PM. Please take advantage of these opportunities for fellowship, or just pick up your phone and call folks within our church body to say hello. Deacons are engaging in periodic phone calls and front porch visits, as well. Our Administrative Assistant, April Ragan, continues to serve the church from our office. She would be happy to assist you with any questions you have regarding any of these opportunities.
We are putting together a Regathering Committee to think through all of the necessary plans for opening the church building in days to come. Please keep this committee, your church leadership, as well as our school and local leaders in your prayers as we navigate these decisions. Thank you for your understanding. As always, we are open to hear from you if you would like to share an opinion on these matters.
Finally, thank you for your enduring faithfulness to your church family. Because of your ongoing support, we are able to keep ministering in spite of these circumstances. My prayer is that this time in the life of our church body will unite us, motivate us, and propel us in days to come as we love God and love our neighbors in Christ-like ways.
Acquire truth and do not sell it– wisdom, and discipline, and understanding. (Proverbs 23:23 NET)
Remember the good old days of broadcast news? When Walter Cronkite signed off each weeknight with the words, “and that’s the way it is,” we had no reason to doubt him. Polls showed he was the most trusted man in America.
Cronkite signed off a long time ago. What used to be a news hour has turned into a news cycle. Instead of one person reading news stories into a camera, we are now treated to 24 hours of over-caffeinated news personalities seasoning opinions with occasional facts. News stories are morsels of fresh meat thrown into a cage of opinionated experts - tossed back and forth but never fully digested.
One of the cardinal rules of classic journalism is to accurately communicate current events with fairness and accountability. What we view on the big news networks is not classic journalism. Corporate sponsors don’t pay for classic journalism. Viewers don’t tune in for accuracy and fairness anymore. Sad to say, we watch the news to affirm our personal perspective. If we don’t like the angle, we turn the channel. There’s always another voice speaking our language somewhere.
I yearn for a news source that broadcasts the truth. I want “that’s the way it is” without “and here’s what you should think about it.” I’m embarrassed when good Christian friends link to stories on social media that simply are not true. I wince when satirical stories are passed off by well-meaning dupes as news. Just as cringe-worthy is when real news is dismissed as fake news because it’s uncomfortable. How can we respond properly to what’s happening around us when the truth eludes us?
As is often the case, the Bible has something to say about this. We shouldn’t be surprised by the cryptic nature of truth in our day, or the rush to self-affirming conclusions. Paul advised his acolyte, Timothy,
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV)
Paul, of course, is talking about the twisting of the gospel. His concern is with the doctrines of the Christian faith, not the news. While this is true, consider the parallel. If we are quick to embrace news stories that uphold our political perception, only to discover the premise is false, aren’t we falling into the same trap? Whatever the subject matter, sacred or secular, Christians should be people who desire truth; not people who repeat the buzz because it sounds “truthy.” If I choose to listen to a particular news source because it confirms my feelings, am I seeking the truth or scratching an itch?
Sometimes it takes work to uncover the truth, like panning for gold. The lazy accept what seems true, fools gold. In their book, un•Spun, Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson demonstrate this point, “Psychological experiments have shown, for one thing, that humans tend to seek out even weak evidence to support their existing beliefs, and to ignore evidence that undercuts those beliefs. In the process, we apply stringent tests to evidence we don’t want to hear, while letting slide uncritically into our minds any information that suits our needs. Psychology also tells us we rarely work through reasons and evidence in a systematic way, weighing information carefully and suspending the impulse to draw conclusions. Instead, much of the time we use mental shortcuts or rules of thumb that save us mental effort.”
Since Christians are people of the truth following a Savior who taught that truth sets free, shouldn’t we do the extra work it takes to champion truth? I want to encourage you to practice the dying art of journalism. When a story pops up on your news feed, and your brain tells you, “This is just too good not to share,” that’s the signal for your inner journalist to get to work. It takes just a few extra minutes to track down sources, to weigh the evidence, to research the claims, and to decide if it’s really worth sharing. Ask the question, “Would I risk my reputation on this, or am I just spreading gossip?”
Be thankful our omniscient God decrees the facts behind every headline and fills each story with purpose. One day we will see as he sees, the way it is. Until then, let’s do the Lord’s work. Let’s embrace the truth.