Saturday, 13 October 2018

WARS DON'T JUST END

“Wars don’t just end” 
Reflecting on the centenary of Armistice
My wife and I have just done a bicycle tour of Berlin, Germany. We were shown the destruction of the city that occurred during World War 2 and is still evident today. It might be thought that this war ended in May 1945, but in reality though, with the dividing of Germany into East and West (tragically symbolised by the division of its capital , Berlin, located in the East) this war simply morphed into an idealogical “Cold War”. 
Asa Butterfield, who played Second Lieutenant Raleigh

Twenty-five years earlier, the seeds of this war were sown in the first World War, which was dramatically portrayed in the movie, Journey’s End (the recreation of a 90 year old theatrical play of the same name). The movie graphically ends with few, if any, survivors, and  then the chilling statistics of how many soldiers died in the few months of their pointless battle. This war was also arguably the continuation of the Franco-Prussian  War just a few decades before. Wars don’t just end!

A German soldier in the trenches of the Western Front of Saint Quentin, Aisne, France

In contrast to needless wars, there are those who have courageously fought for peace by promoting and demonstrating the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. I present  two examples of how wars have their best chance of being avoided or brought to an end: Desmond T. Doss, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. From these two stellar examples, I draw on their principles to propose how a more permanent peace can be achieved, and thus brings wars to a true end.


DESMOND DOSS 
Desmond Doss (Feb. 7 1919 - Mar. 23 2006), pictured left, was a private in the United States Army who served as a combat medic. He refused to bear arms and yet was twice awarded the Bronze Star Medal for bravery during action in Guam and Philippines, and, he received the highest military honour, the Medal of Honor (The Purple Heart), for his efforts in saving the lives of (at least)  75 men. He is the only conscientious objector to have received this honour. His life was portrayed by Andrew Garfield in Mel Gibson’s film, Hacksaw Ridge. Apart from refusing kill another human being, Doss was renowned for saving the lives of both American and Japanese combatants. His motivation for doing so was his commitment to Christ, and obedience to love his neighbour - not kill him!


  

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Feb. 4 1906 - Apr. 9 1945) was a German theologian and pastor who saw the connection between ideas and consequences. From April 1933 he first publicly raised concerns about Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany, calling him not the Führer (leader), but the Verführer (seducer) on a live national radio broadcast which was abruptly taken off air. In 1938, the Gestapo banned Bonhoeffer from Berlin, and in 1943 they imprisoned him in a military prison where he spent some 18 months. During this time, he wrote two very significant books, The Cost of Discipleship, and, Life Together


For Bonhoeffer, the kind of peace that ended - and especially prevented - wars was only possible by having a living  faith in Christ demonstrated by how we treat the vulnerable and oppressed. At a time when the German church was being led by men essentially appointed by Hitler, who claimed to be ‘Christian’, yet who had no relationship with, or living faith in, Jesus Christ, Bonhoeffer’s accusation that these men were wolves not shepherds went largely unheeded. 

¶ But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Second Timothy 2:1-5


TRUTH, THE ANTIDOTE
No man in the whole world can change the truth. One can only look for the truth, find it and serve it. The truth is in all places. 
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It is said, “Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims!” Wars are nearly always founded on some bad idea. While all people are equal, not all ideas are. Bad ideas include the belief in: the superiority of one particular ethnic group; one particular economic status; one particular skin colour; one particular distortion of a religion; the satisfaction of greed brings happiness and fulfilment; and, that one particular would-be leader has a right to use to impose his leadership on others. 
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
James 4:1

The antidote to these bad ideas is not tolerance, but truth. The means of this antidote is not avoidance, but rather, thoughtful engagement

Wars are still being waged today around the world. But perhaps the reasons why there are not even more wars is that there is already much thoughtful engagement happening. This includes, inter-government level diplomacy; the freeing up of international borders (contributing to greater international tourism); exchange student programs; academic exchange programs; commercial globalisation; the visual arts; and, the internet. 
Robert Cedric Sherriff, Irish playwright

Ten years after World War 1 ended, a returned British soldier, Robert Sherriff wrote the stage play, Journey’s End. It launched the acting career of a young Laurence Olivier, and played at the Apollo Theatre, London, for two years. It told the story of what it was like as a soldier in the trenches of the Western Front of Saint Quentin, Aisne, France, in 1918, where every soldier was doomed to die. Two hundred and fifty-four thousand, eight hundred and sixteen soldiers died during this campaign. When Journey’s End opening on December 9th 1928, audiences were left in stunned silence at the end of the play. It revealed the truth about what font-line warfare was really like rather than the romantic idealism generally held by the British at that time. It had a dramatic effect on the collective British psyche and may explain the reluctance of British political leadership to get embroiled in yet another war in 1939. One wonders what effect it might have had if it had been shown in Germany at the same time?
The sign outside of the Berlin Cathedral, "Hate harms the soul"
___
Wars don’t just end - and neither do they just start. They grow from a bad idea - which is why so-called “peace talks” often fail (because they fail to address and correct the underlying bad idea). For peace to prevail, truth must prevail before bad ideas are allowed to run their course.
¶ So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

Dr. Andrew Corbett,
11 October 2018

Sources:

Friday, 28 September 2018

TEAM, FAMILY, CHURCH

TEAM, FAMILY, CHURCH
What do ‘team’, ‘family’, and ‘church’, have in common? Their connection may not be immediately obvious. A team, such as a football team, is comprised of members who perform a task to achieve a common goal. Each of the players’ roles complements the other players and when coordinated together enables them to achieve far more than they could on their own. A family seems to be completely different. For starters, a team may only last for a season. A family lasts for a lifetime of decades. A team is connected by talent. A family is connected by biological bonds and the unconditional love that flows from that bond. Team composition necessarily has to change based on individual performances. Family composition isn’t based on performance – and may even be in spite of performance abilities. But what of a church? In many respects it is different altogether to a team and a family. Or is it?
¶ For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
First Corinthians 12:12

MORE ALIKE THAN IT APPEARS

American-football01The things that make for a strong team, also can make for a strong family – and a strong church. All three diverse involvements unite people. All three involve people fulfilling certain roles. All three require leadership. All three must have rules. All three need coaching and discipline. Even churches. Having these things in common makes teams, families, and churches more alike than we might initially appreciate. Each of us have something to learn about becoming a stronger team, family, or church, from each other.

THE COMMON INGREDIENT

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
First Corinthians 11:3
team-coachI once heard the CEO of major international hotel chain describe how his faith in Christ and his understanding of Biblical leadership had helped to shape him, his company, and his senior staff. While many of his competitors had a view of leadership that was very hierarchical and authoritarian, this CEO saw that the Scriptures described leadership primarily as service. In this view, the leader, and those in their leadership structure, performed a function rather than merely holding an impressive job title. Seeing leadership in this light changes the way teams work. Coaches and captains become servants who work with their team rather than having their team for them. It also changes the way families work. Husbands and fathers become a servant to their wife and children. Their leadership seeks to ensure their family’s safety, provision, welfare, and nurture. (Some men see being a husband and a father as a position of power to make others do what they want. This is not Christ-like leadership.) And it changes the way a church views leadership. Rather than a church leader relishing in their position or title in order to garner the respect of those in their congregation, they strive to fulfil their position or title by using their appointment and gifts to help others. 
AFL-MITCHELLThe common ingredient of all successful teams, families, and churches, is servant-hearted leadership. The team leader wants to see their team members succeed. The husband and father in a family wants to see his wife wife and children flourish and succeed. A pastor and his leadership team wants to see those in their church thriving and achieving successes that they never did
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
First Corinthians 12:26

YOUR PLACE

football-codesYou may be one of those people who has experience in all three involvements – a team, a family, and a church. If you are, then you’ll know what I’ve been talking about. If you’re even more fortunate to be a part of a successful team, a successful family and a successful church, then you’re doubly blessed. You will already know that your team needs your to do your part well. You will have also found that in your family, each member shares a part of the load for the household. And in church you will have come to know that when everyone does what they can, just as in a sporting team or family, you also have a better chance of achieving success. 
from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:16
Nürtingen, GermanyMuch to our Board’s frustration, taking leave is very difficult for me. Perhaps in a way that only a pastor can begin to understand, taking leave can actually be quite stressful for me. But, for the good of our church, so that we learn together what Christ meant by the pronouns ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘as one’, when referring to His followers, Kim and I are taking some leave. I writing this to you now, from just outside Stuttgart Germany in the beautiful town of Nürtingen. You won’t hear from me again until November. In the meantime, each Sunday service, you will see, hear and appreciate, just how deep our preaching ‘bench’ has now developed. In addition to this, each week, you’ll hear from one of our pastors who will be filling in for me to write these weekly pastoral epistles. I look forward to returning in November and meeting all the new people who have joined our church and found Christ. And hopefully along the way, they too will come to find the acceptance and love that all good teams, families and churches offer.
Your pastor,   
Andrew Corbett

Friday, 21 September 2018

PRACTICALLY SPIRITUAL

PRACTICALLY SPIRITUAL

In the gruesome movie series, The Godfather, there is a remarkable moment of redemption that I find deeply moving. Michael Corleone, the Godfather of the Mafia, has journeyed to the Vatican to settle a financial dispute with them. He is a man who is suppressing a lot of guilt and his tired, worn-out, failing body, betrays this fact. He tells the Cardinal Lamberto that a corrupt Archbishop has defrauded him. The Cardinal picks up a pebble from a fountain and says, “Look at this stone. It has been lying in the water for a very long time. But the water has not penetrated the stone.” The Cardinal then cracks the pebble. “Look!” he invites Michael Corleone, “Perfectly dry! The same thing has happened to men in Europe! For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity. But,” continues the Cardinal looking up to the sky, “Christ has not penetrated – Christ doesn’t live within them.” And for Michael Corleone, who has been carrying the guilt of a life of murdering innocent men, including his own brother, it’s all too much. But Cardinal Lamberto points out to the Mafia boss that there is no sin which Christ has not borne to lift the burden of guilt and shame from off the shoulders of weary sinners. I am particularly reminded of this scene as I prepare to preach in Europe next week. 
Michael_Corleone-meets-Cardinal-fountain

“See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”
Exodus 31:2-5
If hardened criminals who spend most of their lifetimes suppressing their consciences can turn to Christ and find forgiveness, there is hope for us all. There will be some, though, who cling to the false notion that they cannot be “spiritual” because they are more concerned with practical matters. I think this confuses two important aspects of life. Firstly, even under the Old Covenant’s division of laity and priestly class, there were those whom God anointed with the Spirit of God to carry very practical things, such as art and metal-work (Exo. 31:2-5). We think of the great Apostle Paul who took pride in his leather-working and tent-making trade (Acts 18:3). I hardly think anyone would accuse the Apostle Paul of not being spiritual!
¶ And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the LORD.” And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar. And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
Zechariah 14:20-21
The prophet Zechariah, in looking forward to the day when the New Covenant would become a reality, described as a day when even the common bells on horses would have “Holy to the LORD” inscribed on them, and every pot and pan in the city would similarly be regarded as an cause for worship of Lord. It’s a beautiful picture of how Christ has made a way for everyone who has surrendered their lives to Him can have immediate access into the holiness of God’s presence. This means that if you are a carpenter, your hammer and nail-gun are instruments of worship to God. If you a school teacher, your students are an occasion for your worship of God. If you are a retailer, your store displays, products, and cash registers, are all an occasion for you to worship and to enjoy God’s presence as you work. Being heavenly-minded does not have to mean that we are of no earthly good!
¶ If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:1-2
There may be some who scoff at the possibility of anyone who has spent their entire life resisting Christ, finally surrendering to Him and experiencing the transforming joy that can only come from having sin, guilt and shame, washed away by the eternal sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. But, as I close, consider one of Australia’s most outspoken atheists who rose to the very top of political power in Australia. He attributes his atheism to being raised in home filled with domestic violence. But what he never told anyone, until a few weeks ago, was that he was having terrible doubts about his atheism. His biggest problem, as he tells it, was that met so many sincere believers in God whose lives demonstrated their conviction that the God of the Bible was present in their lives by the way they sacrificially cared for others. Eventually, it led Australia’s former Governor General, Mr Bill Hayden, to surrender to Christ, and was baptised in an Ipswich (Queensland) church the other week.
Bill_Hayden-at-his-baptism

According to Mr Hayden, his conversion was largely provoked by how he saw the intersection of practical service and authentically deep spirituality. Let’s pray that more people will be similarly provoked.

Pastor Andrew Corbett

Friday, 14 September 2018

REST FOR THE WEARY


Strength-for-the-weary

Kim Corbett doing Park Run in QLDWhat refreshes you? Chances are it’s also what wearies you. My wife likes going for an early morning jog. Each Saturday she also does ‘Park Run’ which is an organised five kilometre community run where volunteers record each runner’s times. She enjoys it, but after doing it, she is wearied by it. This kind of weariness is an indication, though, that she is getting stronger. There is another kind of weariness, however, which bears little resemblance to this kind which Kim find enjoyable. It’s the kind of weariness that is not just – or even mainly – physical. Rather, it is principally emotional
Liam Smith, left, falls to the mat after taking a body shot and being knocked out buy Canelo Alvarez fight during the ninth round of the WBO Junior Middleweight Championship boxing match at the stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/LM Otero) ORG XMIT: TXMO104Both kinds of weariness can be illustrated from a boxing match. Both boxers throw the same number of punches. Both boxers burn the same number of kilojoules. Both boxers spend the same time on their feet in the ring. But at the end of the match, one boxer is exhausted, and the other is exuberant. The difference is what makes some people always feel weary while others seem to have boundless energy.
¶ Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Romans 16:25-27
The boxer throwing punches but not landing them is the one who is exhausted. This is a great illustration of how life can feel. We work hard and long, but never seem to ‘land a punch’. Disappointment can take its unseen toll. It’s as much an emotionaldrain as it is a physical drain. 
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31
stronger-through-workingUnderstanding that weariness can feel physical but be rooted in our emotional strength, helps us to appreciate that our emotional strength is nearly always determined by our relational strength. When Isaiah the Prophet declared that the Lord gives power and strength to the faint and weary, he also revealed the Lord’s method. “They shall wait upon the Lord“. This is not waiting like as at a bus stop. Rather, it is waiting as like a waiter in a restaurant. This is coming together each Sunday is such a powerful source of strength for the follower of Christ. As we sow our time – and our family’s time, into the House of the Lord, we are waiting for the Lord and renewing our strength. Jesus described the same phenomena in Matthew 11.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30
Those who know me best know that I have battled weariness over the last few years. I have often thought of the Apostle Paul’s comments to the Corinthians that in his service for Christ and His Church he was often deprived of sleep; often having to toil long and hard; and often having to endure hardship (2Cor. 6:52Cor. 11:27). It was during this chapter of his life that Christ appeared to him and imparted strength to him.
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are My people.”
Acts 18:9 – 10
Paul was given strength to persist in his mission for Christ by being yoked to Christ. As a result, the Gospel would eventually conquer Europe. Being yoked to Christ is the best way to ‘land a punch’ (achieve a desired goal). I have found that seeking Christ’s strength involves putting His priorities first. When we seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33), by making church attendance a priority for our Sundays, we are sowing our lives into Christ and drawing on His strength. When seek to serve others in Christ’s Name, we are sowing our time and energy into Christ – and this is what we reap. It may counter-intuitive when you’re tired and time-pressured – to get your weary self into church on a Sunday when you could be catching up on work – but by doing this we are positioning our lives to be the beneficiaries of the Lord’s promise through Isaiah so that we can run and not grow weary!
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9
Your pastor, 
Andrew.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

PRACTICING CHRISTIAN DARK ARTS


CHRISTIAN DARK ARTS

He made darkness His covering,
His canopy around Him,
thick clouds dark with water.
Psalm 18:11
Gold Zirconium Eternity ringThere is something mysterious about the dark. It plays with our minds. It can shake our confidence. Some of you know I’ve had a rough few weeks. As I stated at last Sunday night’s leadership training, all of my trials have been what I referred to as “First World” problems. It started while in worship a few Sundays ago when someone accidentally threw my camera on the floor and smashed its professional (A.K.A. ‘expensive’) lens. I experienced a small anxiety attack but remembered how to practice Christian dark arts. A few days later, on a particularly freezing cold day, I was mid-sentence counselling a married couple in trouble when I noticed my recent eternity ring (A.K.A. ‘expensive’) was missing off of my pinky finger. In that moment of discovery I froze but then composed myself as I remembered how to practice Christian dark arts. Later that night when I returned to the church to look for it, I cracked a rib (A.K.A. ‘hurty’) while reaching into one of the large bins in a vain search for it. And to top it all off, I am now immobile with a spine and its complicit thoracolumbar facia (A.K.A. “ouchy”). Fortunately though, I am countering these assaults with Christian dark arts. 
¶ I love you, O LORD, my strength.
 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
 my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:1-2

THE ART OF WORSHIP

When I saw my beloved camera and its interchangeable lens hit the floor and fall apart, moments before Karen and I commenced our annual Q & A, I told myself, “The worship God in good times and hard times is not just a theory!” In that moment, I lifted my hands to focus on worshiping God and giving Him my attention. My worship in that moment was not dependent on who else was worshiping; how good the music was; who was worship leading; or whether I liked the song or not. 
David-weeps-in-intercessionPerhaps the most profound picture of the dark art of worship is seen in King David when his child to Bathsheba was very sickly. He pleaded to God in prayer and fasting with deeply emotive petitions to spare the life of the child. This went on for quite a while. Eventually, when the child died, palace servants came to his room and discussed among themselves how they could tell David – fearing that if he was this emotional while child at least lived, how distraught would he become if he knew that the child had died? Sensing that something was amiss, David called out to them asking whether the child had died. “Yes” came the reply. David then got up, washed his face, and went to the place of worship and there worshiped God. This is the dark art of worship when true worship of God is seen in those times when it is very dark for us. 
Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.
Second Samuel 12:20

THE ART OF WORSHIPING IN THE DARK

David’s checkered career was punctuated by worship. Psalm 18 is a profound account of how David had learned to worship in dark times. In this Psalm he expresses how he trusted God in the midst of deeply dark times. It was often in these times, he tells us in this song, that he came to learn that God was powerful, good, and awesome. He worshiped God because he knew who God was, and, he came to know who God was because he worshiped him – especially in the dark
¶ For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
Psalm 18:31-32
If we are to become the church God has called us to be, we must each practice the art of worshiping when it seems dark. Rather than prioritising our hurt, painful memory, disappointment, or offence, above our commitment to worship God in God’s House, we must learn to come together to worship God in these dark times. As we do, we may learn more about the God we are worshiping – just as David did.
Pastor Andrew. 

Thursday, 30 August 2018

CREATED TO BE CLOSE


Created-to-be-Close
Being-Human-Pt1-05Last Sunday I preached two-part message on Being Human. Since we each have some personal experience with this topic, you might think that dealing with this topic was completely unnecessary. But as I hope I was able to show last Sunday, being human is not as obvious as we might think. As I stated in Part 1 of the message, delivered in our morning service, how we understand this topic is not a matter of life or death – it’s a matter of how many lives will be lost and how many unnecessary deaths will occur! What may have surprised those there last Sunday was that the driving forces behind trying to answer the question What is a human being? is not the science – but two very different competing stories. What is so alarming is just how many followers of Christ are reading from the wrong script when it comes to understanding who we are and what life is really all about.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 1239:14

STORY #2, MATERIAL NATURALISM

Being-Human-Pt1-16We are not the random result of some uncaused cosmic accident. As obvious as this statement should be, it is the underlying foundation to the mythical story shaping our culture at the moment. The Material Naturalism Story says that there is nothing more to the universe than its material components which assembled accidentally in a completely unguided fashion. This story denies that any immaterial substance is even possible let alone exists in reality. Despite its appeal to science, this story is not grounded in science. This is born out by those in the biological sciences pointing out this story does not correspond to, or explain, reality. For example, Dr. Fazale Rana Ph.D., a biochemist, states the Material Naturalism’s evolutionary attempts to explain the universe and its diversity, fails to account for some crucially important pieces of life’s puzzle. He writes –
Currently, evolutionary biologists lack explanations for the key transitions in life’s history, including these-
  • origin of life,
  • origin of eukaryotic cells (see diagram below),
  • origin of sexual reproduction,
  • origin of body plans,
  • origin of consciousness,
  • and the origin of human exceptionalism.
To be certain, evolutionary biologists have proposed models to explain each of these transitions, but the models consistently fail to deliver, as a recent review article published by two prominent evolutionary biologists from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences illustrates.1
The Cell's Design, by Dr. Fazale Rana

If you take a close look at the inner workings of this diagram of a eukaryotic cell, even you are untrained biol-chemically, you will notice the incredible complexity and elegance within this microscopic human cell. I only mention this biochemistry to show that despite Material Naturalism’s appeal to science, reason, and rationality, it is nether scientific nor rational. As bad as its lack of scientific credibility as an explanation for how life works is, worse still is its influence on how Material-Naturalists view the world – and especially human beings. In their view, a human being is only of value if they can communicate, contribute, consider their own consciousness, and have the ability to live and interact independently. Only when they can do these things should they be considered a human-person and thereby entitled to the usual protections which come with human rights. This is why Material Naturalists have no qualms about prematurely ending the life of an unborn child, or an elderly patient in a nursing home. 
“Peter Singer insists that the severely mentally incapacitated are candidates for euthanasia because they ‘were once persons’ but no longer. ‘Their lives have no intrinsic value….They are biologically alive, but not biographically.'”
Nancy Pearcey, ‘Love Thy Body’, 2018, p. 92,  citing, ‘Practical Ethics’ by Prof. Peter Singer, 2nd Ed., Cambridge University Press New York, 1993, 192
Fortunately, there is another story which corresponds far more accurately to the actual world in which we live.
    

STORY #1, THE BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW

Neil Tyson deGrasseAmerican astrophysicist, Dr. Neil Tyson deGrasse, criticises Christianity because, in his mind, it seeks to make humans special. In his mind, human beings are no more special than any other collection of molecules in the universe. This Material-Naturalist view stands in stark contrast to the view of the world presented by the Bible. We should not write this sharp difference off to some ‘Science versus Religion’ misunderstanding. The Biblical worldview is not some weird and novel way of looking at the world. Rather, it is an accurate description of the way the world is, and a particularly accurate description of who human beings are and why we each share a common problem.
Being-Human-Pt1-37The Biblical worldview is in perfect concordance with science. This includes: the Universe had a beginning of all space, energy, time and matter; life appeared on earth over progressive stages; large-bodied life appeared suddenly and without transition (“Day 5”, “the Cambrian Explosion”); mankind appeared fairly recently in the Universe’s history (Creation Day 6). But only the Biblical worldview gives us an explanation for the human condition, and an explanation for why humans are capable of supererogatory acts (self-sacrificing for the weak), yet also the most heinous evil. This is because we are all created in the image of God, yet fallen into sin. 
Being-Human-Pt1-38Being created in the image of God gives every human being a very special status. As the founders of the American Constitution wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights. This means that all human life – from the womb to the tomb – is sacred. Our humanity is not determined by our size, level of development, environment, or, dependency (S.L.E.D.). This is why it has been Christians, envisioned with a Biblical worldview, who have helped the most vulnerable in society by establishing hospitals and medical clinics, schools and universities, aid and relief agencies, orphanages, and hostels.
“In the ancient world, Christians were distinctive for their humanitarian efforts – taking care of babies and slaves, of widows and orphans, of the sick and elderly, of the unwanted and abandoned.”
Nancy Pearcey, ‘Love Thy Body', 2018, p. 81

HOW THESE COMPETING STORIES AFFECT OUR VIEWS OF VALUE, RIGHTS, GENDER, & SEXUALITY

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In the Material-Naturalist worldview, some human beings are not ‘human persons’ and are therefore not deserving of human rights (which is a concept they borrow from the Biblical worldview story). In the Materialist’s worldview, personhood is an immaterial reality – even though the Materialist denies anything immaterial exists! This is why gender becomes very confusing for the Materialist. In the Biblical worldview, our Creator has designed a correspondence between our material biological sex and our gender. For Materialist, sexuality is nothing more than a physical encounter. For the Christian, sex is a sacred bonding between a man and a woman who have covenanted their lives together whereby they lovingly celebrate their union in a complementary physical union which has the potential to procreate life. Thus, sex involves emotional blending, intellectual merging, as well as the ultimate physical intimacy two people can experience.
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This is why the Genesis account describes the sexual union of a man to his wife as becoming ‘one flesh’ (Gen. 2:24) and the Apostle Paul stated that when a man and a woman united sexually that they became ‘one body’ (1Cor. 6:16). We now know that our Creator has designed that when a man has sex, his body is designed to release a hormone called vasopressin which has a remarkable effect upon the male brain –
Love_Thy_Body-book_cover“The irony is that science is constantly uncovering new evidence of the profound interconnection between body and person. Pick up any recent book on sexuality and you will read about the role played by hormones such as oxytocin and vasopressin. Scientists first learned about oxytocin because of its role in childbirth and breastfeeding. The chemical is released when a mother nurses her baby, and it stimulates an instinct for caring and nurturing. It is often called the attachment hormone…
Consequently, the desire to attach to the other person when we have sex is not only an emotion but also part of our chemistry. Oxytocin has been shown to create a sense of trust…
The same is true for men. The main neurochemical responsible for the male response in intimate sexual contact is vasopressin. It is structurally similar to oxytocin and has a similar emotional effect. Scientists believe it stimulates bonding with a woman and with offspring. Vasopressin has been dubbed the monogamy molecule.”
Nancy Pearcey, “Love Thy Body“, 2018 p.127  
Once again, science confirms what God’s Word reveals: there is something sacred about our bodies and our sexuality. While Materialism pretends that there is nothing special, particularly intimate, or sacred about sexuality, the litter of hurt, broken, lonely, depressed lives can no longer endorse the pretence. Instead, these shattered souls bear testimony to the truth of God’s Word that we are indeed created to be uniquely close to someone – and ultimately this One is God Himself. 
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POSTSCRIPT: WELCOMING REFUGEES

Over the next few months we expect to see increasing numbers of ‘refugees’ – those people who have been hurt and broken by a culture gone mad – seek sanctuary with our church. I pray that you’ll join with me in welcoming these precious ones into our healing community.  

Pastor Andrew