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A POSITIVE ARTICLE ABOUT CHURCH FOUND WHERE?

The New York Times published this fascinating article on the benefits of going to church.  That’s right, the Times.  This is an encouraging development for the people like me who have usually in the past virtually always took the opposite tack on things published in the Old Gray Lady.

This article actually has a paragraph like this:

At the evangelical churches I’ve studied as an anthropologist, people really did seem to look out for one another. They showed up with dinner when friends were sick and sat to talk with them when they were unhappy. The help was sometimes surprisingly concrete. Perhaps a third of the church members belonged to small groups that met weekly to talk about the Bible and their lives. One evening, a young woman in a group I joined began to cry. Her dentist had told her that she needed a $1,500 procedure, and she didn’t have the money. To my amazement, our small group — most of them students — simply covered the cost, by anonymous donation. A study conducted in North Carolina found that frequent churchgoers had larger social networks, with more contact with, more affection for, and more kinds of social support from those people than their unchurched counterparts. And we know that social support is directly tied to better health.

Two lessons for all followers of Christ:  First, love thy neighbor is commanded by the Scripture (Jesus went back to the original intent, so to speak when He cited Leviticus here.) but it still amazes outsiders when it is actually seen!  Keep doing it!  Love thy neighbor is a powerful witness to the world.

But second, you never know who is in your small group (in my church, Hanover Nazarene, we have Life Groups) so follow Jesus best you can and treat EVERYBODY right!  You might have a anthropologist in your small group studying what you are doing!  More likely a seeker looking to see:  Are these Christians real? Apparently these unknown small groups were exactly that – real and genuine – may it be to their blessing in glory!

Maybe a third point is:  Yes, Biblical truth ought to in general, find empirical support – if people are willing to look for it.

Then we have the secular version of Hebrews 11:1 (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” [KJV]) as the writer veers into a secular explanation of why church might be good for you:

Yet I think there may be another factor. Any faith demands that you experience the world as more than just what is material and observable. This does not mean that God is imaginary, but that because God is immaterial, those of faith must use their imaginations to represent God. To know God in an evangelical church, you must experience what can only be imagined as real, and you must also experience it as good.

***

Increasingly, other studies bear out this observation that the capacity to imagine a loving God vividly leads to better health.

How much more would it be to your good health if you actually could experience God – the real Living God?  The Bible does say in Psalms, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”  (KJV)  God invites you to seek Him out!  Give it a sincere effort.  Have a beer with Jesus.  Ask Him into your life.  Here’s how.  Yes, you need to count the cost:  Being a follower of Jesus will result in persecution.  You have to renounce the former worldly ways.  But the Bible seems to say:  Seek Me out.  You won’t regret it!

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood “Sandy” Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia’s first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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