Christians

How A Bacon Wrapped Cross Defiles Christianity

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This is not Christian

Two weeks ago, someone, or some people, in our city wrapped a four-foot cross with bacon and pounded it into the ground in front of the one and only Mosque in town. I hesitate to draw more attention to the hatred and foolishness of such an act, but because a cross has been brought into this, something has to be said.

It must be understood that what these people did is by no means Christian. It’s not the biblical church. It’s not the biblical Jesus. It is in fact anti-Christian. It is anti-gospel. It is anti-Jesus. It goes against everything the cross of Christ actually stands for. You will not find such an act anywhere in the Bible.

My plea to whoever may be reading this is for you to understand that Jesus in no way condones or encourages this deplorable action. If you are a Christian understand that such an act does nothing but drag the name of Jesus and his church through the mud. It is not an act that furthers the gospel but hinders it and thus it must be condemned.

This is Christian

Our church, Taproot Church, has been working together through the book of Acts–the New Testament historical record of the early church. One of the themes that come up repeatedly is the very humanness of every single person and the offer of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone to every human regardless of their race, ethnicity, or social status.

In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas are worshiped by the people of Lystra as Greek gods. Their response is, “People! Why are you doing these things? We are people also, just like you” (Acts 14:15; emphasis mine). What Paul is saying here is that the gospel (good news) of Jesus levels the playing field. All humans, regardless of what or whom they may rightly or falsely worship are just that–humans. Humans in need of the one true and living God.

In Acts 16, the author records the conversion of three different people. Each of them are from entirely different worlds. They couldn’t be more different. They are opposites in race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Yet the conclusion of the story is that they all–as human beings–were in need of the same Jesus.

Our common humanness

“From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26).

This verse is a reminder of our common humanity. That from one man every other man has come into existence. It’s also a reminder that we’re all a lot more alike than we tend to believe or realize.

Ken Wytsma talks about this in his book, The Myth Of Equality: “Beneath the skin we are all basically the same––and this is especially true at the genetic level. Genetically speaking, I (with my rather unmixed Dutch heritage) am more similar to a male Maori than I am to any female, including my own mother and daughters. Whatever genetic differences the Maori man and I might have throughout the rest of our twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, they are fewer than the number of gene differences between men (with one X – and one Y – chromosome) and women (who have two X- chromosomes), even when a man and woman are closely related…Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the genetics of humanity is how little diversity it contains in comparison to other populations of creatures, including other primates.”

In other words, scientifically speaking, I’m not that different than any other man on the face of this earth. And neither are you.

Track with me. This is important.

The Truth Of The Cross

You see, the actual good news of Christianity is that Jesus entered into this world in order to reconcile all types of people from every corner of this globe back to God. He finished the work that you and I could not. He did this by living a sinless life and dying a sinners death at the hands of people like…

You.

And me.

The sins of the conservative, the sins of the liberal. The sins of the Christian, the sins of the Muslim. Your sin and my sin put Jesus on the cross.

The cross is a symbol of suffering and shame. It’s a symbol of sacrifice and ought never to be associated with some sort of elite homogenous ideology. Americans (American Christians in particular) are not inherently better people than Muslims. This is what the true message of the cross tells us. It levels all humanity and says we’re all in need of the same thing. It declares that salvation is not for those who prove themselves most righteous before God. Rather, it declares that all are unrighteous, and the religious moralist who stands against planned parenthood is just as much a candidate for God’s saving grace (and needs it) as much as the Islamic man–even an avowed terrorist.

This is what the true message of the cross tells us. It levels all humanity and says we’re all in need of the same thing.

This cross is the way of the Christian life.

The cross declares God’s love for people like me, and also unlike me. There is no symbol that declares God’s desire for creating a diverse people like the cross. The Christian life should always reflect this desire.

It’s in light of all this that hateful actions like wrapping a cross in bacon and placing it in front of a Muslim Mosque must be condemned.

The truth of the Christian gospel is what enables us to see people the way God intended. In an increasingly diverse culture, may the cross remind us that we’re a lot more alike than we realize and at the end of the day our greatest need is the same–a crucified, but risen, Savior!

This post was originally published on Mike Littleton's personal blog. 

The Value Of The Church Gathered

In Taproot Church, we gather every Sunday morning to worship Jesus, sit under the preaching of God's word, and be equipped for the work of ministry in everyday life.

We also gather in Gospel Communities (GC's). GC's are small groups of people, joined by the gospel, pursuing the renewal and redemption of their community together for the purpose of being discipled and making disciples of Jesus.

The Sunday Gathering and Gospel Communities are invaluable pieces to the ministry and mission of Taproot Church. These are two of the primary ways in which we're able to press into the reason for our existence, which is to know Jesus and make him known.

Below are some reasons why we value these gatherings the way we do.

1. It's biblical. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." The early church valued the gathering of the saints to the point that correction was necessary if there was a neglecting of it. It was in the context of the church gathered that people were encouraged in the midst of all that is difficult in this life. 

2. It reflects God. The God of the bible is Triune. This means that he has existed in perfect community for all eternity. Being his image bearers, we long for this kind of community, but sin has distorted it. Now, instead of enjoying the presence of God and others, we would rather hide (Genesis 1:8). In the finished work of Jesus, the type of community we see in God is restored to his church, and we reflect that to the world. "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

3. Discipleship. The commission of Jesus to his disciples is to make disciples. A disciple is a follower of Jesus. Discipleship is the process of learning how to follow Jesus. This does not happen alone. It also doesn't happen in the context of a one and a half hour service on Sunday mornings (though this is vital). Discipleship is the process of a lifetime and it's greatest value comes when we are gathered with others who are learning how to follow Jesus along with us. It's in the context of the gathered saints where our weaknesses and sins are revealed, and it's in these gatherings where we are most likely to be pointed to Jesus. Proverbs says, "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement" (Proverbs 18:1). Living life in this type of community is often not easy, but it's always worth it.

4. Equipping and maturity. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, saying, "And God gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood" (Ephesians 4:11-13). Paul is not talking about offices in the church, but gifting. In other words, there are those in the church who still operate in this APEST model of gifting, and they've been given these gifts for the equipping of the saints. (We'll talk more about APEST another time). Furthermore, the hope in this is that the saints would reach maturity in Christ, that is, that all followers of Jesus would know Jesus more fully, and realize their value in the gathering of the church. If left to a small group of people or one "dynamic" preaching pastor, the local church is sure to never see real maturity. This isn't always the case, but often it is. We are equipped and we mature when we gather and are equipped through the gifting of many. 

5. Whole body ministry. The church is referred to as a body (1 Corinthians 12), which requires all parts in order to function well. Often, there are several parts of the body which are neglected or not used at all, but when the church places value in the gathering of the church, the whole body is included in ministry. This is why our Sunday gatherings are not referred to as services. The goal of the Sunday morning gathering is not simply to serve you, but to serve you by equipping you, helping you to see that you are a vital part of the ministry of the church. You are then equipped to go out and serve not only in the local church, but in your city, neighborhood, workplace, schools, etc. In this, you are doing the work of ministry in your everyday life.

6. To be sent. When saints are equipped, saints are sure to be sent. This is a difficult but beautiful part of being the church. The work we do is in hopes that more would come to know, follow Jesus, and be gathered with Jesus' Church. This happens as people are sent.

7. Worship. The final thing I want to say about the gathering of the church is that it's an act of worship to King Jesus. He paid the price for our sins on the cross, rose victoriously from the grave, and is alive and well, ruling and reigning at the right hand of God today! All this is for the church. Jesus loves his church. We are his bride, and no matter how messed up we tend to be, he sees us as perfect, beautiful, and holy! When we gather, we do so because of the love and finished work of Jesus. 

Christ is all!

Pastor Mike