Each of these uncomfortable topics in this brief series of articles are uncomfortable because there they carry a sense of embarrassment or even shame attached to them. But this particular topic also carries a good deal of pain associated with it – in addition to any feelings of embarrassment or shame. This pain may involve a sense of failure, betrayal, rejection, and humiliation. Divorce rarely effects just the two people involved in ending a marriage. Divorce can scar people like little else can. It can scar socially, financially, emotionally, relationally, and even a person’s physical health – and sometimes do so permanently.
Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.
The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.
As we enter into this Advent season we should reflect on the uniqueness of the Christ-child whose birth we celebrate each Christmas. It often crops up on the internet around Christmas time that Christians simply reinvented pagan myths of virgin-born saviours which may rock the fragile faith of newer Christians. But as Dr. Leon Morris points out in his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, no such myth has yet been found and certainly no ancient myth ever proposed that a virgin would conceive – let alone conceive a child supernaturally! Dr. Morris points out that there are several mythological accounts of ‘gods’ having relations with mortal women to sire a child – but this hardly could then be described as a virgin conceiving! Reflecting on Luke 1 and Matthew 1 we see that Jesus the Christ had a unique birth (Matt. 1:2-23, 25). It was also unique because it was prophesied (Isa. 7:14); accompanied by independent angelic visitations to Mary and her betrothed Joseph. Secondly, Christ bore and received unique divine titles (Isa. 9:6). Thirdly, Christ had a unique name – Jesus – that revealed His unique identity. Fourthly, He had a unique mission (to save people from the eternal consequences of their sin, Matt. 1:21) which He was aware of from a very early age (Luke 2:49). Fifthly, Jesus had a unique destiny to die an atoning death, rise from the dead, ascend by translation back to His heavenly throne, and will then sit in judgment of all people. And sixthly, Jesus the Christ made – and the offer still stands – to cleanse a person from the soul-stain of sin and mediate their adoption as a son or daughter of God the Father.