A Future Filled with Joy?

By Mark A. Taylor

Not everything on Facebook is true, but I want to believe the picture posted there several weeks ago is real.

It depicts an announcement board in a church hallway, with white plastic letters pushed into a black background.

At the top we read: Evenings at 7 in the Parish Hall. Then this menu follows:

Monday: Alcoholics Anonymous

Tuesday: Abused Spouses

Wednesday: Eating Disorders

Thursday: Say No to Drugs

Friday: Teen Suicide Watch

Saturday: Soup Kitchen

And then, below all this:

Sunday Sermon 9 a.m. “America’s Joyous Future.”

The irony made me laugh out loud, but lately I’ve been wondering about that church and that sermon. Did the preacher have a clue about the dysfunctions parading through his “parish hall” day by day? Maybe he did. Maybe he saw all these ministries as proof of his premise rather than a contradiction of it.

If so, he’d probably find a friend in “Stake” creator Brian Mavis. He challenges us to reach out to troubled or hurting people around us with demonstrations of Christian love and service. He echoes a challenge that is becoming a mantra among many leaders. Our congregations should be the best for our communities, he says, not just the best in our communities.

But Kelly Boyd says some community involvement should be reconsidered. He takes aim at the tendency in many corners to “reshape the church of Jesus into a conservative political action committee.” His challenge is a reminder that Jesus changed the world through service and sacrifice, not by marshaling power through some political process.

Both Brian and Kelly point us to Jesus as the sure model for how the church should help heal our troubled culture. Brian says disciples of Jesus “join him in his mission to restore all things.” Kelly sees the Great Commission of Jesus as the church’s most compelling mandate.

As we think about their vision, we realize the best starting point is the one Vince Antonucci found. Matt Proctor shares Vince’s testimony, “Jesus invaded my heart,” that has moved him to a lifetime of service.

When Christians imitate the servant lifestyle of Jesus, the Facebook preacher’s premise can become a reality. Seized and sent by the love of Jesus, all of us can contribute to a future full of joy.  

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