In Case You Missed It: Good News, Giving and Gospel Ingenuity
Hello, So We Speak fam! My name is Michael, and this is my first post on the spectacular So We Speak blog. I have long wanted to contribute to this website’s thoughtful cultural commentary.
I am a big fan of all things NBA and the OKC Thunder in particular. A favorite column of mine is written by one of the best writers in the biz: Zach Lowe. Frequently, he will contribute a column to ESPN called “Ten Things I Like Or Don’t Like.” It’s a sort of micro commentary on small storylines or obscure topics you might otherwise have missed happening around the league. In these posts called "In Case You Missed It," I'll be sharing stories of encouragement, important developments in the Christian world, and a few things to think about from the last month.
Without further ado: Four things I like or do not like happening in the world today:
Some Good News
One of the best things happening is John Krasinki’s new YouTube channel, “Some Good News.” You will recognize Krasinki as Jim Halpert from The Office and from co-starring with his wife (modern-day Marry Poppins), Emily Blunt, in their hit movie A Quiet Place. If we’re being honest, it is easier to refer to Krasinki as “Jim” so because I keep typing that anyway, I'll just call him that in this post.
Jim has been asking himself the same question we’ve all been asking lately. Amid all this chaos, isn’t there some good news we can celebrate? His at-home, social-distance via-Zoom-interviews news show combines a nice blend of humor, inspiring personal stories, and Jim’s magnetic personality to cook up the bright distraction we all need in this dark hour.
Christians should be mindful of the content we consume. While it is helpful to be informed, we are urged in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that are good, true, excellent, praiseworthy, etc. Beyond the obvious, Christians do not have just some good news but the good news. There is a lot to like about the Some Good News channel. If you need a lift, give them (and Jim) a follow.
I hope you haven’t seen it, but Kenneth Copeland led some kind of prayer at what could be mistaken as a Christian worship service. In this video, Copeland leads his followers in prayer against COVID-19. In the prayer, he “blows the wind of God” on the virus, destroying it completely.
Nothing in Scripture gives us the impression that we can breathe out the breath of God, the wind of God, the power of God, or anything else for that matter. God has breathed the breath of life into us because we are all children of Adam. All Scripture is breathed by God. Copeland, by all accounts, is human and possesses the breath of God, and while he seems to be familiar with portions of God-breathed Scripture, his ministry does not reflect an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Christians should pray for the end of this pandemic. This virus is devastating countless families who have lost loved ones. It has caused unparalleled economic catastrophe and has limited many missional opportunities (it has opened others - more on this later). But Christians should not pretend to have the ability to demand that God destroy COVID-19 on our timetable.
Calling Out Wealthy Pastors
I read a tweet a few days ago that’s been on my mind ever since. The tweet listed the ten wealthiest pastors in America, including their net worth, then ended with the punchline: “total contributed to COVID-19 relief efforts: $0.”
Setting aside discussions of how much money pastors “should” make (or more relevant to the list, how these pastors, in particular, each accumulated the wealth they possess), there is a fundamental flaw in the criticism: Christians are people that intentionally keep their giving secret. Additionally, one of the pastors mentioned by name was Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham. He is the leader of Samaritan’s Purse, a mercy ministry that has set up a free COVID-19 relief clinic in Manhattan. (Kenneth Copeland was also on the list at number one with a mind-boggling three times the wealth of the second wealthiest pastor.) Even if every single one of the gospel preachers on the list had given money, we wouldn’t necessarily know about it.
Christians should follow the teaching of Jesus from the sermon on the mount to “not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Matthew 6:3) In a day when generosity is often a calculated social capital investment, Christians are generous because our God was generous enough with us to send Christ. Our response is to mirror this radical generosity by giving. We should do this not out of a desire to be celebrated but out of a desire to celebrate what God has given to us in Christ.
During this pandemic, the question at the top of Christians’ minds should be, “What is God wanting to do in and through us in this season?” There is much we need to be pruned of and there are so many new opportunities to preach the gospel. Churches worldwide were forced to take what is typically the largest service of the year either online or in a drive-through. By and large, the church responded beautifully.
Only in eternity will we know what the impact of Easter weekend will be (or Resurrection Sunday if you are old school like me). But the online engagement for churches and ministries was astounding. We will not mention any specifics since online engagement can sometimes be misleading and confusing to adequately track what truly “attending” an online service entails. That said, on April 12, 2020, it is possible more people heard the gospel message than any other single day in the history of the world.
Christians should look for the opportunities amidst the chaos for gospel witness. While we keep our six-foot distance out of love for our neighbors, let’s also look for those new ways to serve our neighbors and to share the good news of Christ’s defeat of death. Let us be aware of the people in our lives that are more open to the gospel today than ever in the past. Let us be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have. (1 Peter 3:15).
Michael McAfee is the President of Inspire Experiences, a teaching pastor at Council Road Baptist Church, and the author of Not What You Think: Why The Bible Might Be Nothing We Expected Yet Everything We Needed.