March 26, Sunday

REPOST  Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, was first posted on April 30, 2016. Peter is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Man-Made Religion”

Acts 20:25-35

“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

A month ago, an international student from Korea visited our church on a Friday evening. Our International Students Ministry was gathering for a casual, potluck dinner in order to introduce their ministry of studying God’s word with any international students who showed interest. Most of the international students in attendance were from China; and more or less, they were just looking to make some new friends while studying abroad. 

Now, in my conversation with the student from Korea, I discovered that she had attended church while living in Korea. However, after some time of having been more involved in the church, she arrived at the conclusion that Christianity was basically a “man-made religion, out for people’s money.” So, once she made that claim to me, I just had to ask why she decided to join us for dinner. 

Well, it turned out that she was invited by one of the Chinese international student—it was presented to her that it was a dinner party at a friends’ place (which was actually true). But the “place” just happened to be at a “church.” I’m sure she must have been surprised when the car parked in front of a church building. (She had even brought a bottle of apple cider for the host.) To her credit, she was cordial and friendly. While she was honest about her views, she was also willing to be a good sport for the evening, being fully engaged in the dinner and the introductions. 

As the evening concluded, there were smiles on her face. And she commented that while she wouldn’t return for the follow-up gatherings, she genuinely had a nice time meeting some of the church members over dinner. Our church members knew to respect her views and not to be preachy, all the while offering our friendship. 

Yet, I was saddened that she had arrived at wrong conclusions about God’s church. I think of the world when I think about the body of Christ. I don’t expect today’s readers to be naïve and assume that everything in all churches is honky dory. But wow, when I see the kind of person that Paul was, I’m inspired! As I meet pastors who live sacrificially and with integrity for the gospel, I grow in my confidence. And if that’s not enough, how about the fact that Jesus paid for the church with His own blood? And what organization can make that claim? 

Prayer: Lord, reveal to us in a fresh manner the works that You are doing in Your church today.  God, if I’ve been cynical about Your church, I ask that You renew my heart and passion for Your Son. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 8

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