Loving God or His Creation?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

RESPONSE: Do I even love God?

This is a response to a very humble and honorable question: Do I even I love God? Many ask similar questions, but are afraid to journey through an answer because of the possible outcomes. This is part of my answer…

As a Christian, I often ask myself: “am I busy being involved in ministry OR in my relationship with God?” Sometimes I think of this in terms of being in a relationship with THE CREATOR or CREATION.  I find this useful because it voices the concern in terms of God’s activity.  God himself is THE CREATOR, while everything in this world (including every system and science) is a product of God’s CREATION.  We should always focus on our relationship with THE CREATOR; however, by being involved in what God has CREATED, we support and join in God’s activity which in turn, strengthens our relationship with Him.

God, The Creator
God is our personal Creator.  When Adam and Eve were in the garden, it was clear their first priority was to obey and serve God, which is our primal definition of worship.  We were created in God’s image and likeness, and in return, we were called to obey.[i]  Our relationship with God was, and continues to be, our first priority.

God’s Creation
Adam also understood his second role ? to take care of God’s creation.  God told Adam to name the animals, have leadership among the rest of creation and to work and keep the garden.[ii]  Part of our responsibility is to take part in what God has created.

Our Journey With God in His Creation
If we continue to read scripture, we see that God created the system of ministry we serve in today.  Jesus talked about building His church,[iii] and sent the Spirit to empower the early Church for service.[iv]  Paul understood God’s creation in terms of God’s ultimate authority.  When discussing government, Paul told us to subject ourselves to their authority because God himself has appointed them.[v]  If we continue in this logic, the Church and our system of ministry has been appointed by God himself and he expects us to join in his special activity.   Furthermore, our lack of participation would symbolize our lack of involvement in Christ, since we, the Church, are in fact Christ’s body.[vi]

While God, the Creator, should always be first in our lives, being active in what God has created should be one of the ways we participate in that relationship.  That said, participating doesn’t necessarily mean you love God; rather, loving God means participating in His creation.  In order to love God, we must live lives of WORSHIP, LOVE His creation, and SERVE others as they GROW to do the same.

My prayer: May God allow you to continue to develop your understanding of your journey with Him.

 


[i] Genesis 1:26; 2:16-17.

[ii] Genesis 1:26, 28-30; 2:15, 20.

[iii] Matthew 16:18.

[iv] Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4.

[v] Romans 13:1.

[vi] Ephesians 4:1-16.

[Guest Post] “Dear Parents with Young Children in Church”

Reading Time: 4 minutes

My wife and I pastor a church that has a whole lot of kids!  It’s awesome!  But, with a lot of kids, comes a lot of noise, commotion, laughing, crying, talking, and sometimes even screaming.  Tradition would say, “it’s inappropriate during a Sunday morning service.”  I ask, “how can we modify our Sunday morning service to include our kids?”

While we think on that, read how one mother reflects on bringing Children to church in her blog post “Dear Parents with Young Children in Church“…

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant carseat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.

When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn’t about Bible Study or personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and Sacrament together.When you are here, I have hope that these pews won’t be empty in ten years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship. I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.

I see them learning. In the midst of the cries, whines, and giggles, in the midst of the crinkling of pretzel bags and the growing pile of crumbs I see a little girl who insists on going two pews up to share peace with someone she’s never met. I hear a little boy slurping (quite loudly) every last drop of his communion wine out of the cup determined not to miss a drop of Jesus. I watch a child excitedly color a cross and point to the one in the front of the sanctuary.  I hear the echos of Amens just a few seconds after the rest of the community says it together. I watch a boy just learning to read try to sound out the words in the worship book or count his way to Hymn 672. Even on weeks when I can’t see my own children learning because, well, it’s one of those mornings, I can see your children learning.

I know how hard it is to do what you’re doing, but I want you to know, it matters. It matters to me. It matters to my children to not be alone in the pew. It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith, to see young people… and even on those weeks when you can’t see the little moments, it matters to your children.

It matters that they learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith, that everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community. They don’t need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship a certain way to be welcome here, and I know adults who are still looking to be shown that. It matters that children learn that they are an integral part of this church, that their prayers, their songs, and even their badly (or perfectly timed depending on who you ask) cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.

I know it’s hard, but thank you for what you do when you bring your children to church. Please know that your family – with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy – are not simply tolerated, you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.”

Let’s rephrase that last sentence… “Please know that your family – with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy – are not simply tolerated [at Bethel Pentecostal Church in Bay Roberts, NL], you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.”  Hopefully we can all insert our local assemblies.  If we can’t…

Let’s think about this…
If you’re a parent of young kids, do you bring your kids to church?  If you don’t, is it because of what others may think?  If you do, know you’re making an awesome impact, can keep doing it!

If you’re not a parent of young kids, how do you respond to “noise and commotion” during a service?  Remember being reverent is more than being quiet, it’s also acting in obedience – Jesus said, “let the children come to me.”

The next time you see a young mom or dad in church with their young children, make sure you let them know how proud you are of them!

Kids in Church

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Most church congregations in North America are aging at an uncontrollable rate.  Some churches are feeling the pressure of out-migration, while others refuse to integrate the younger generation in their services.  Some may even feel as though the Sunday morning service is a public service and should be respectful and quiet for mature adults. Eventually, however, our aging congregations will cease to exist and our ability to reach those in need will dwindle with it as well.  We need to do whatever it takes to include and celebrate children!  As a Pastor of a younger assembly, I believe there are three reasons why we must do so…

Kids are welcomed by Jesus

Matthew’s gospel gives a lot of attention to kids.  The book speaks of the innocence (2:16), future (10:21), faith (18:1-5), salvation (19:13-15), simplicity (21:15), and vulnerability (27:25) of children.  Of particular importance, are the passages found in Matthew 18 and 19. The gospel calls us to be “child-like.”  This is not to be confused with “childish.” Jesus said that we need to accept him like a child – asking no questions and giving unconditional love while living in complete dependence on God.[i]  With this sort of focus and dependence it’s easy to understand why Jesus said the kingdom belongs to children.[ii]

Kids bring something unique

One grandmother in our local assembly[iii] recently posted on our facebook page[iv]. She said:

I…feel so abundantly blessed to have so many children in our congregation. They are a joy to watch every Sunday as they, in their own unique little way, add so much to our services.

Children aren’t bound by societal expectations.  It’s one of the best things I enjoy about kids – they’re innocence causes them to view God in a simple way.  Adults could learn a lot from the unique innocence of children.

Kids are the church of tomorrow

I believe that Jesus could return at any moment. That means two things: (1) it could be today; and, (2) it could be in another 2000 years.  In either case, we’ll never know the day until it happens.  If time does pass by, the children of today will be the church of tomorrow.  If there’s no church to proclaim the gospel message of hope, peace, joy and love, who will let them know?  As the church of today, we need to invest in the possible church of tomorrow.

For these reasons, we need to keep kids not only in church, but engaged in church.  We need to continue to teach and disciple them, while encouraging them to worship, love, and serve.  Let’s do whatever it takes to be a people who love kids and create environments where kids can be a part of what God’s doing!



[i] Matthew 18:1-5

[ii] Matthew 19:13-15

[iii] Bethel Pentecostal Church, Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, Canada (www.bethelbr.com)

[iv] http://www.facebook.com/BethelBR