Why I Love Preaching to the Choir

love hope warYou could call most of what I do here “preaching to the choir.” Most of my writing primarily targets Christians rather than non-Christians. Of course, there are times when the occasional non-Christian bothers to spend a few minutes on my lengthy posts and begins to seek Christ. I am grateful for such moments. I pray that I will be able to generate more content that, beside feeding the Body of Christ, also draws the curiosity of unbelievers towards this Gospel that I am always so passionate about. Even so, it is not uncommon to find some people criticizing blogs such as this one for “alienating the world”.

Alien Citizens is not a popular blog, and there are many reasons for that. Apart from the obvious fact that I am not the best writer out there, there are other reasons including the fact that I am not very relevant, entertaining or attention grabbing in my titles and subject matter. It can get quite discouraging at times. We start off saying that we are only exercising the gift that God gave us for the good of the Body. But after a few posts, we find ourselves caring about the traffic and the site stats. Idolatry is a crafty chameleon.

I know that if I wanted to redirect massive traffic to the blog, I just have to focus on controversial topics, politics, latest gossip, and of course… naming names. That’s always a great temptation. I do address some of these popular topics now and then, but I always have to hold myself back not to be swept by the tide of relevancy at the expense of truth and faithfulness to mission. God has specially equipped me to minister to His Body, the church, and I strive to do my best with the help and leading of the Holy Spirit.

I guess this is why I found myself relating deeply to Da Truth’s song “Jesus Is For Everybody” (J.I.F.E). Question: What usually comes to your mind when you hear an expression such as “Jesus is for everybody?” It usually has something to do with why we should strive to reach out to the last and the least, the poor and the lamest of the society; as opposed to the rich and comfortable members of our church. But Da Truth’s focus is different this time, and quite unexpected:

They say I love the church, I don’t care about the streets. That’s so far from the truth, why they lying on me? I’m where am supposed to be, trying to play my role. Staying faithful to the gospel seen a lot of growth…

It used to be a gift, now it’s criticized, if my heart is for the church, why is this a crime? Whatever happened to the days when ministers cried when speaking life to the Body, am a bit surprised…

No doubt is in my mind, it’s making perfect sense. Am I doing something wrong talking to the saints? Am just giving it my all when am in my own skin, while am building up the Body, walking in His grace. And while am talking to the church I hope they overhear, we want the whole world to know we’re over here… am talking from the lawyers and the doctors to the corners with the choppers to the hommies in the barber’s chair.

I guess I relate to Da Truth’s frustration. His song may be a bit defensive, but it communicates a great truth. Jesus is for everybody, and some of us have been specially gifted to relay and relate His truth to His Body, the Church. Sometimes I may prefer to do this because it’s comfortable. At such times I need to repent and be a little more intentional about my evangelism. However, that should not derail or disqualify me from preaching to the choir. The truth of the matter is that the church of Christ, especially the 21st century church, needs the Gospel now more than ever before.

“I open up my eyes to the church and I see, some automatic weapons and they’re aiming at me. They say I’m preaching to the choir, people dying in the streets. You’d be preaching to ‘em too if you seen ‘em lately.”

Yes. Jesus is for everybody, including the church.

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For the Discouraged Fisherman

‘[Jesus] called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.’ (John 21:5)

fishers-of-menChrist the cook. Hardly would one throw this descriptor into a bag full of the popular titles of Jesus: Son of God, Messiah, Healer, Teacher, Redeemer, Savior. We can revere Healers, we do admire Teachers, we long for a Redeemer and we worship Saviors. But a cook? Why would anyone want to worship a cook? Why would I want to write songs and sing praises about a cook? (Unless, of course, that cook is my mother) Well, John did (John 21:7). He shouted over the crackling fire and the sizzling oil and praised a cook.

It was a slow morning. The cross was a fading memory and the disciples were moving on. Some chose to go back to their former professions. Peter went to do what he did best, fishing. Continue reading For the Discouraged Fisherman

The Irony of the Atheist Church

There’s an atheist “church” in London. It’s called The Sunday Assembly. Started by British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, the Sunday Assembly meets every month in north London at the site of a former Christian church. The church is basically modeled on a typical Christian church. The main difference between this and other churches, as the founders say, is that it does not have all the religious dogma. Instead, the aim of the church is to encourage the members and help the community:

“No matter what the subject, the goal of The Sunday Assembly is to solace worries, provoke kindness and inject a bit more whizziness into the everyday,” the group says.

church
1. THE IRONY OF ‘NO RELIGIOUS DOGMA’
The first irony of the atheist church is the fact that it exists at all. Since the “church” concept, which gave rise to the “church” set up is a product of religious dogma, it is rather hypocritical to have the “effects” of dogma without dogma itself. Maintaining a “dogma-less” approach to any congregational unity will guarantee nothing but the inevitable collapse of that congregation. Continue reading The Irony of the Atheist Church

Unmoved by the Gospel

“Salvation belongs to the LORD.” Psalm 3:8a

Some words are easier said than believed, and the words above are no exception. Do we really believe that salvation belongs to the LORD, and entirely so? I am not sure I always do. What happened last week is just one of many awakening reminders. I was at the park, hanging out with a couple of friends when this young man, probably in his early twenties, approached us. He looked fairly decent. Although his clothes were dirty, he was not haggard. I was aware of all the stories of con-men faking distress and seeking handouts from unsuspecting people. As a matter of fact, one had just passed by and I did not talk to him. I am not sure why this particular man was different. Probably because he spoke in impeccable English, with surprisingly too many vocabularies.

“Sir, if you don’t mind, I would just like to snatch a few minutes of your time and have a short discourse with you…”

He went on about how his mother had come to Nairobi, seeking medical treatment. He had come to visit her at the hospital a few months back… *incoherent details*… Now he was stranded in Nairobi and needed money to get back home, to Kisumu. It is the classic con-men story that I had heard and ignored a dozen times before. Continue reading Unmoved by the Gospel

Thus Says the LORD!

thus-sayeth-the-lordThere are many reasons to applaud expository preaching. But one reason speaks the loudest to me: The person of God is more important than the personality of the preacher. We are living in the age of sensationalism. There are simply too many competing voices and Christian teachers feel the need to be relevant, creative, catchy and interesting. This is because what attracts us is how eloquently and creatively a certain preacher presents his message. Little is said about the content of his message or its fidelity to biblical truth. I experienced this effect in much of the reaction I got after my review of a sermon series preached at Mavuno Church, last year. Those who stood to speak in defense of the message mainly appealed to the personality of the preacher rather than the Biblical text.

Some of the common defenses included:

“That’s just how this pastor likes preaching,”

“That’s his approach, every Pastor at the church has their unique style” or

“You may find his approach unorthodox, but trust me, it is quite effective.” Continue reading Thus Says the LORD!

The Problem with Half Truths in Preaching

You’ve probably heard or read this quote before, “The problem with half-truths is if you have the wrong half.” Well, the truth is that there is no such thing as a half truth. It doesn’t really matter which half you have, they are both falsehoods. I am not the first person to point this out. A casual scan through classical authors and ancient proverbs confirms this. It was Mark Twain who said that “a half truth is the most cowardly of lies.” Alfred Lord Tennyson put it even more darkly, “a lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies.” A Yiddish proverb goes straight to the point, “a half truth is a whole lie”. So, what happens when we preach half-truths about God? But even before we answer this, what is considered a half-truth about God? Continue reading The Problem with Half Truths in Preaching