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Relationships

Q As part of a small group of volunteers, I have been raising funds for disadvantaged students. After eight years, I no longer have the energy to continue. I feel guilty, since Christ calls believers to be his hands and feet. If I quit, the students will be left stranded. Should I force myself to continue?

A No. You may trust that the guilt you feel does not come from God but rather from Satan, our accuser. Your feelings of burnout are telling you it is time to begin divesting yourself from this ministry. You can do this in a responsible manner by giving at least two months’ notice to those whose task it will be to find new avenues of support.

Feel free to celebrate your accomplishments and look back with satisfaction and gratitude for the work God gave you as part of the body of Christ. But also feel good about moving on to a new vision for personal ministry. Be open to hearing and seeing how God may have begun gifting you to serve him in new ways. Know that God calls you to peace while being alert to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

God will surely answer your prayers of concern for the students whose well-being still tugs at your heart. Trust that God will provide where you no longer can.

—Judy CookJudy Cook is a family therapist and a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ontario.

Morality

Q My sister lives nearby. Her husband is often out of town, and I often help out with her kids. They are wealthy enough to hire a nanny, but I don’t think it’s ever crossed her mind. I love her dearly, but I’m starting to feel a bit used. Over the past few months I suggested some sort of exchange. She doesn’t have the time or energy to take my kids, so I asked if she’d compensate me for all the stuff I do for her kids. She became angry and says that I’m not being very Christ-like. Is asking her to pay me unchristian?

A Unless one is prepared to say that the free trade of goods and services is unchristian, it is hard to see how your actions qualify as such.

You might consider remaining somewhat flexible and helping her out on certain occasions without asking for something in return. You would then, as you have in the past, be honoring God by going beyond the call of duty. Just as she should not expect you to always go beyond the call of duty, you would do well not to allow yourself to develop a rigid adherence to a bartering mentality.

In a certain sense you are seeking justice and she is seeking sacrificial love. In our fallen world there can be tensions between the demands of each. Being flexible is one way to reduce the tensions.

—Gregory MellemaGregory Mellema is a professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Church

Q My teenage son wants to join the Roman Catholic Church. How should I respond? What should my pastor say to this?

A Because the Protestant Reformation was a reaction to various teachings and practices of the Catholic Church, our denominational history has been characterized by an adverse appraisal of that church. Some have even asserted that Catholics are not Christians.

In reality, we have much more theological affinity with the Catholic Church than we do with liberal Protestantism, which denies some of the theological fundamentals mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed. As a result of dialogue with the Catholic Church, our denomination revised Answer 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism, and both churches agreed to recognize and accept each other’s administration of baptism.

But there are still matters on which the two churches differ. For example, Synod 2011 recommended documents on baptism and the Lord’s Supper to the churches “for further study and reflection” because “these documents offer detailed study of convergences and divergences between Roman Catholic and Reformed views of [these two sacraments]” (Acts of Synod 2011, pp. 822-3).

Talk to your son about why he wishes to join this church. Review the similarities and differences together, and consider asking your pastor to join in this process. Respect the decision your son makes, and continue to discuss issues of faith even if he joins this church.

—George Vander WeitGeorge Vander Weit is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.

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