Today’s news is that the Charity Commissioners are considering abolishing the right of churches and other Christian groups to claim charitable status. Charities act in the public good, but churches benefit themselves, not others, it is argued, and so they cannot claim to be properly charities. QED.
Let’s forget for a moment the hundreds of Christian aid and justice charities, or hospices, hospitals and schools that do seek to serve others, and let’s forget the nuns who claimed that by their prayers they are benefiting others. Let’s focus on ourselves for a moment.
Many people will think we are Christians for what we get out of it. The malicious ones will think that we do it prove our moral superiority and show that on the Last Day God was right to justify us. The kind ones will think that we get a sense of calm, that others get from meditation, or angling or a good evening with friends.
But submitting to Christ as our King, and being members of his kingdom, is good for us in a quite different way. Bitterness, anger and stubbornness should get sorted out, and so in turn do marriages and finances. Yes, we all know sad exceptions, but none of them is an exception to the rule that Christ is good for us. They are proof that our sinful hearts do not always want what is good for us.
We can go further. Christ is not just good for us – he is the best for us. There’s a song with the chorus, ‘You’re my all, you’re the best, your my joy, my righteousness’, and for years I have squirmed with that word ‘best’. The phrase ‘you’re the best’ seems to fit a cheesy birthday card, not the creator of the cosmos.
I quietly substituted, ‘You’re my rest.’
But he is the best, isn’t he? He is the ultimate of all excellent things, the one from which any value of what is good, true, noble or loving must derive, and against whom it must measure itself
Which means that his rule must be the best possible one that could be imagined for us. I don’t mean that in. Joel Osteeny kind of way – I mean that his will is simply that we become increasingly like him, and since he is the best, that means his plan for us will be the best that could possibly be.
Which also must mean, even in a tangled fallen world, that we should see his transforming power at work in our churches, changing people’s lives for the better. Since he is our suffering servant king, that ‘better’ will mean that we become suffering servants too – he has to be allowed to define what ‘the best’ means. But since that means we love the stranger, love our enemies, the least, the last and the lost, we are good for others too.
I don’t know what will happen to our charitable status. But I’m sure that embracing Christ our King as part of our Apologetics will always show that his rule is the best, the absolute best, for anyone who follows him.
- What discernible differences did your last sermon call for or promise for Christ’s followers?
- How different is your church from its surrounding culture? What do non-Christians think of you?
- How does your church tackle hurting marriages, or captivating habits?
- How do you help people be deeply, and increasingly, satisified in Christ?