The Irony of Missions

missionsI remember listening to missionaries tell stories and share slide shows – not Power Point projections, actual slides on carousels. They were from “the mission field” a place with terrible roads, lack of electricity and unsafe drinking water. They worked with people that looked, dressed and spoke differently than we did. What I knew about missions as a child is that they were far away, in difficult to reach places, and we needed to fund missionaries to print Bibles and build churches. I also hoped, at a young age mind you, that God didn’t call me to the mission field because I didn’t want to go.

My understanding of missions has of course matured over the years. Christians are called to be mission-minded across the street as well as around the world. I have been on short term mission trips and served full time on the stateside mission field. Generally speaking Americans are uninformed of how things are in the world around them and that has an affect on American Christians. I’m going to say most, but not all, of regular church goers imagine that the mission field is a difficult place to serve and, those not on church staff or in leadership positions, would assume that serving in the United States is much easier. While some of you know better, many Sunday church-goers imagine the pastor answers a few calls, responds to a few emails, and spends a few minutes each week putting bullets points on the sermon outline.

It’s an understatement to say that things are not always as they seem. There’s an irony of mission work that I’m just now realizing. You may have to take a long plane ride followed by a longer ride in a Jeep or Land Rover to reach unreached people groups but those people are hungry for the Gospel message. I don’t want to over-simplify because there are places in the world that the Gospel will get you killed. Anti-conversion laws in India, Muslim controlled states and North Korea’s resistance to everything make reaching the ends of the earth a daunting task. But people that have never heard the Gospel often respond to it in dramatic fashion. Government and religious leaders may oppose mission efforts but there are tiny villages all over the world that treat missionaries or even those just bringing Bibles better than any rock star ever has been. Hugs, tears and baptisms are the order of the day.

Meanwhile the climate has changed in the United States just in my lifetime. Even in the Bible belt the church culture has somewhat turned. It used to be that to get elected to a local office a person had to at least feign church attendance in order to be considered a community leader. Today church attendance could almost be a strike against. Our society has shifted from apathy toward Christians to resistance and in some places violence. When a university has “free speech zones” and what you can say even in those is limited, exercising one’s first amendment rights becomes an iffy prospect. When protests turn violent and a scheduled speaker is cancelled; when bakers and photographers face fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that drive them out of business; when a city mayor demands to see pastors’ notes before the sermon is preached; when the anti-fascist protesters are the most fascist people in the street, reality sets in. We may have a high standard of living in terms of per capita income and internet access via wifi but Americans are no longer receptive of the Gospel message. Imitating Christ could get you labeled as a bigot and accused of hate crimes.

When the Apostle Paul reasoned with the philosophers in Athens (Acts 17) they were at least willing to listen. They enjoyed hearing new things they could discuss and debate. I’m painting with a wide brush but Americans are arrogantly no longer open to new ideas. Many now oppose even a discussion taking place. Our freedom of religious expression is being interpreted more and more often in courts of law as freedom from religion. (There is an organization by that name that funds legal battles across the country.)

Life is pretty easy in the United States, including for Christians that are willing to read their Bibles quietly and keep their mouths shut. But if you want to share the Gospel, love your neighbor, build the Kingdom, take a stand for traditional marriage or oppose abortion… well don’t expect a pass from the world, they hated Jesus too you know. The Land of the Free is no exception.

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Sermons Online

It is true that I haven’t blogged in a while but I have been preaching. The Sermons Archive page on our church website has been updated with sermons from Acts chapters 8, 9 and 10. Saul beings preaching the Gospel in the 9th chapter and Peter preaches the Gospel to Gentiles in chapter 10 so lots of good stuff in there. If anyone has been wondering what I’ve been up, well there it is.

Sermons page at UnityBaptist.Church

 

A Short Message to the Reading Public

Let me begin by saying I am alive and well. I have not been abducted by aliens nor am I laid up in a hospital somewhere with a head injury and total amnesia. I have not quit blogging so much as I simply haven’t been lately.

Back in the summer my Chromebook sighed and breathed it’s last. I am a creature of habit and soon got out of the habit of posting, even the weekly Happy Monday feature. I check Facebook daily on my phone and pop up on Twitter every now and then. My wife has a full size Windows laptop that I use occasionally when I need a real computer. After a few weeks I got comfortable with my new routine of not getting online via laptop everyday. When that happened replacing my broken laptop quit being a priority. It’s way down on the to-do list right now.

So to sum up: I’m good, the family is healthy, I still pastor a small SBC congregation in rural northwest Georgia. Just haven’t written much lately. There was a time I couldn’t imagine such a thing, but there it is.

Peace and God bless,

Clark J. Bunch

A Christian Response to Racism

biblePerhaps a better title would be A Scriptural Response to Racism but this is copied and pasted directly from a Facebook post I put up yesterday. There is so much upheaval in the world today and we are bombarded with information from traditional media to social media 24/7. When it gets to be too much, the Christian believer needs to step back, take a breath, and remember that we are in the world but not of the world. 

I don’t mean an official resolution passed by any group of representatives from any church denomination; my congregation will tell you that we read a lot of scripture. Every sermon, every Wednesday night Bible study, every Sunday school lesson begins with reading scripture and keeps going back to it. So this is not any particular Christian leader’s response to racism, this should be “our” response to hate and racism anywhere based on the inspired Word we live by. Continue reading

Happy Monday

You are not imagining things. Last week, with no announcement or explanation of any kind, there was no Happy Monday post. I had been using my laptop with a broken screen for several days and over that weekend it finally bit the big one. Can’t say right now when it will get replaced. Here is a Happy Monday post from July 20, 2015. Hang in there, we’ll all get through this together.

wimbeldog

What we all look like watching Wimbledon. Maybe it’s just me. Let’s get happy! Continue reading