Good Friday: Grace Is Not Cheap

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Today is Good Friday.

It’s a day that when Christ was beaten, despised, denied, abandoned, and broken by the world he came to save. It still stands today as man kind’s ultimate rejection of God.

This is the day when the world took their greatest gift and murdered it in cold blood to the roar of applause.

This is the day when God allowed himself to be mocked and shamed by those whom he loved.

This is the day when the father turned his face away, a day when the prayers of his son went unanswered.

This is a very dark day, and yet it is good.

It is the most painful and gut wrenching good imaginable, but it is still good.

This is the day of “not my will but yours be done.”

This is the day when God took the sins of the world upon himself and endured the full wrath of sin and death on our part.

This is the day when God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whomever would believe in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

This is the day when all man’s crimes were paid for.

Best of all, though no one saw it coming, this was not the end of the story. Sunday is only two days away.

As we celebrate the fact that we have been given loving grace and mercy by our father in heaven, let us never forget that grace was not cheap. Let us not forget that in the most unexpected turn of events, God humbled himself, suffered, and died, on our part. As we seek to serve God, let us not forget that he first served us through the horrific beauty of Christ’s sacrifice. This grace came at a greater cost than any of us could ever comprehend.

 

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A Ranting on the Real and Radical Rather than Relevant

The following was pretty much a stream of consciousness post. It’s a rambling rant that I wrote spur of the moment, and decided to publish because I think it hit on some points that are near to my heart and of great concern to me. Future posts will be better organized and structured: 

I’d like for you to be honest with yourself for a moment and seriously contemplate when was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit move you. When was the last time you really hated your sins and repented with a heart that was so hungry for grace that you could not help but be swallowed up in the love of God. If this sounds foreign to you then I hope and pray that this will not remain the case for much longer. Let us be honest.

This thing we call Christianity is not a simply belief, a rationality, a moral compass, or a set of truisms. This thing we call Christianity is a radical rebirth of the soul that calls for death of the old as well as birth of the new. This thing we call salvation is not a simple exchange of words or a singular moment in our life where we pray the sinners prayer (which is not found anywhere in scripture) but rather a life long striving for righteousness.

Let me explain to you something that should be common, but has somehow become lost and forgotten. Christ is freedom. We are completely liberated from the binds of legalism and law just as we are liberated from the binds of sin and death. Do you live a life that reflects the gratefulness that a slave shows his liberator, or do you stay at the side of your old master because leaving is hard?

Do you bind yourself up in legalistic judgementalism so that you can store up morality points and look down on those that don’t meet your standard? If that sounds remotely like you then I’m here to tell you that your morality is crap. Do you think a holy and perfect God is going to love you more because you are slightly less dirty or sick than your brother? A good parent doesn’t love his children on a scale of merit and a healer is not concerned with the fact that you need less healing than someone else. In his eyes you are both sick and he wishes only to make you both well. If anything he is more concerned with the sickest because they need him most. As one who has been the king of false judges, I promise you that no smug morality can ever compare to the reality of seeing someone truly broken and loving them with all your heart. To do this is to momentarily glimpse through the eyes of our creator and it is the greatest sensation I know.

Perhaps you are not the legalist. Perhaps you are the type that scoffs at legalism and instead goes around confident that you are free to do what you want because no man can judge you and God will forgive. If this rings true for you then I’m afraid you are still a slave who never left his master. You must understand that sin is not bad because God gets jollies out of taking away fun things from you. Sin is bad because it defiles, destroys, contaminates, perverts, or corrupts the good gifts of God for you.

God is not here to give you a cheapened and sheltered life, He designed you for a life more abundant and He wants to see you reach your potential. He designed you for a life that is truly life. As one who has had trouble with alcohol in the past I can promise you that a drunken stupor can never amount to the majesty of a purely sober moment spent in awe of the creator. As one who has indulged in more sexually immoral acts than I care to publicize, I promise you that no sexual gratification is a substitute for a pure and chaste love that consumes and envelopes you until you finally are able to love that person with mind, body, and soul. No unhealthy foods or substances can compare to the joy of health, no lies will ever be as liberating as being completely and brokenly honest. No possession will ever compare to the satisfaction of knowing you helped a brother or sister in their time of need. What fools we are to return to sin when such a majestic and full life awaits for us. Christ broke the chains, you just have to choose to walk away. How horrible we must be to have knowledge of the suffering God endured for us to liberate us, and yet in the end we choose to remain in our own filth. Hedonism is the ultimate slavery masked as liberation.

Why am I bringing this up? It scares me how dead many Christians seem to be and it scares me how dead at times I can be. Numb is no way to go through life, and yet so many of us grind our way through like some sad sap at the bank waiting for the line to end. We try so hard to be “relevant” with our bracelets, t-shirts, contemporary music, trendy bible covers, and snappy one liners like and in the end the vast majority of us are fakes and we wonder why people don’t want to come to church. If we continue to try to force Christianity into culturally relevant stigmas then we will never see what the Church is capable of. Christianity will never be culturally relevant because the world will not and cannot understand us until they meet our Lord.

Radical Christianity is not going to manifest itself in a hebrew tattoo, or a jesus t-shirt, or a christian folk band. Radical Christianity should be redundant because Christianity, if it is Christianity at all, is radical by its very nature. If you call yourself Christian you side with those who reject both rigid morality and hedonistic self-gratification. If you call yourself Christian you side with those who do not see good people or bad people, but a world full of sick and dirty people who need the healing and cleansing hand of God. If you call yourself a Christian you side with those who reject revenge and human honor and embrace mercy, grace, forgiveness, and limitless love for all those who cannot and do not deserve it. If you are my brother or sister in Christ you are amazingly radical, so let us live like it.

The Human God: A Post on Suffering and Why God is Still Good

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So today the question was posed to me “How can God be good when the world is full of so much evil?” This is a fairly common question for those who are struggling with faith or coming to grips with the realities of Christianity. We do, after all, look at this world and see all sorts of tragedies and terrible things that haunt us. There is starvation, murder, rape, genocide, abuse, greed, and a myriad of horrors that grip our world. So how do I still find hope in Christianity? How can I still worship a God and call him good? While some people can’t believe in a God who would create a world full of suffering, I can point to my God and say that he understands suffering and refuses to let us participate in it alone.

Pessimism is easy, and hopelessness is the natural state of man in a sinful and broken world. One could easily become very pessimistic when one focuses only on the evil in the world. Christianity openly admits that there are terrible things in this world and suffering exists. We don’t claim a perfect world, but rather a world gone wrong. This reality is not perfect, but it is also not abandoned. Suffering is, in Christian thought, the result of a broken world that has left its proper order and strayed away from God. By allowing man to choose his own destiny and to have the free will to choose between good and evil, God had to allow for evil to exist. In order for love to exist a choice has to exist, and in order for a choice to exist the wrong choice must be an option. Every time we choose selfishness over love, pride over humility, greed over generosity, comfort over justice, or pleasure over aide, we make the world a little darker. This world is full of evil, and God allowed it to be so. So why is God worthy of love?

For starters the fact that anything exists regardless of its good or evil nature is completely due to God. We’ve focused a lot on the negative so far, but let’s deviate and look at all the wonderful things that life has to offer. That means that every good thing you have ever experienced came from God. Your very life originates from him. Our world is broken  but not abandoned. Beauty, love, grace, mercy, kindness, generosity, joy, patience, goodness, self-control, gentleness, and faith still exist. Life still has to opportunity to be wonderful and we are surrounded by more blessings and beauty than most of us realize. All of this originates from God. So while evil exists, so also does good and for that we are thankful.

The question of suffering is still lingering despite the fact that goodness and life exist. So why does man suffer?  The better question would be “Why do you think you deserve not to suffer?”

That’s a thought that usually comes off like a slap in the face to most people, but honestly consider it. Why do you think you deserve comfort and a life free of suffering?  Are you so entitled that you think by your very existence (which you played no part in) that you deserve a life completely devoid of pain and misery? Do you think you deserve all good and no bad? Perhaps you would argue that you are a good person and therefore God owes you something.  For those people I offer this helpful info-graph:

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You see, being good some of the time doesn’t mean you deserve to be blessed all of the time. By Christian understanding the fact that you are evil some of the time (and you are evil some of the time) disqualifies you from being worthy of any blessings at all. So by that logic the fact that you have even one blessing makes you blessed beyond what you deserve.

You see, Christianity believes that human beings are sinful, which basically means by choosing evil even once we have become imperfect. This imperfection causes a rift between us and God who is perfect, and also contaminates the world around us since a world filled with imperfect beings would cease to be perfect. The world is messed up because evil exists, and evil exists because man was given the option of following God or choosing evil and abandoning the natural order.

Man when held to a standard of holiness, finds that he is not holy and therefore doomed to be separate from what is holy (God) forever. Man is unable to redeem himself, and scripture says “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  As a result is in need of a redeemer. We believe that in spite of the fact that we chose evil, God willingly took human form to show us the way and then took the price of our sin (suffering and death both spiritually and physically) so that we could be made whole.

Let me put it this way: Christians worship a God who created a perfect world that man screwed up, but because he loved us he chose to participate in the suffering of man so that he could make a way for us to be redeemed from our own mistakes. God does not just sit back and observe suffering, he is a willing participant in it because he loves us. We worship a God who loves us more than he loves his own comfort (imagine if we could only do the same). Through Christ God showed both justice, mercy, and grace to humanity. Because of Christ we are living in a period of renewal and we have the promise that one day all wrongs will be made right and all suffering ended.

God knows what it was like to be cold, to be burnt by the sun, to sweat, to starve, to be sick, to want, to need, to be tempted, to be weak, to lose a loved one, to be beaten, to be tortured, to suffer, and to die. God knows what it is like to offer up a prayer of deliverance and have to deal with the reality that this trial is not one that you will be spared. He knows what it is like to fear death:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

– Luke 22:42

God knows what is like to feel abandoned by God:

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

– Mark 15:34

God knows what it is like to lose your only son….

Suffering

Life, at times, can seem pointless. We are born into a world where suffering exists and as much as we run from it, it eventually catches us. We are here one day and gone the other and as we seek out purpose the weight of the world can come in and seem quite overwhelming. So what hope does Christianity offer? We offer the hope that God is good, that evil is in retreat and that eventually all things will be made pure and good. We offer the hope that all are welcome in the house of God, and that repentance, forgiveness, grace, and mercy belong to all who are willing to reach out and grasp them. The difference between Christianity and any other theology is that, we worship a God who knows what it is like to be completely human. We worship a God who knows our pain and relates to us on our level. We worship a God who is no stranger to suffering, but allows it because he believes that those who cause suffering are still capable of good. He never gives up on us.

 

 

J.R.R. Tolkien on Losing Faith and Hypocrisy in the Church

So yesterday was the birthday or J.R.R. Tolkien, a man who was arguably (and in my opinion is) the greatest fiction writer in modern history, if not of all time. I finished re-reading The Hobbit a few months ago and I’m currently in the process or plowing through his Lord of the Rings trilogy. The man was a genius who was so detail oriented and so in-depth that it’s hard to imagine the amount or work this guy put into his writing. This guy was a genius and a master of literature. Seriously, go look up some of his academic accomplishments he achieved before he even considered writing (and re-inventing) fantasy books.  Not only was Tolkien a brilliant historian, linguist, literary critic, professor, and author, but he was also a very strong Catholic. He was so Catholic that when the church started doing liturgy in English instead of Latin, it is said that he would still respond in Latin because he disagreed with the shift.

Now of course I’m no Catholic (hence my blog title) but I have a lot of respect for the Catholic church and I tend to side with Catholics more than I disagree with them (plus I’m a big fan of high church worship and music). So in honor of J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday yesterday I figured I’d post one of my favorite pieces by the man himself. What follows is an excerpt from a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Michael. His son was having a difficult time reconciling all the hypocrisy that he saw within the church and his Christian faith. In this letter Tolkien reminds his son why our faith should not rely on the actions of others, but on Christ himself:

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You speak of ‘sagging faith’, however, that is quite another matter. In the last resort faith is an act of will, inspired by love. Our love may be chilled and our will eroded by the spectacle of the shortcomings, folly, and even sins of the Church and its ministers, but I do not think that one who has once had faith goes back over the line for these reasons (least of all anyone with any historical knowledge). ‘Scandal’ at most is an occasion of temptation – as indecency is to lust, which it does not make but arouses. It is convenient because it tends to turn our eyes away from ourselves and our own faults to find a scapegoat. But the act of will of faith is not a single moment of final decision: it is a permanent indefinitely repeated act > state which must go on – so we pray for ‘final perseverance’. The temptation to ‘unbelief’ (which really means rejection of Our Lord and His claims) is always there within us. Part of us longs to find an excuse for it outside us. The stronger the inner temptation the more readily and severely shall we be ‘scandalized’ by others. I think I am as sensitive as you (or any other Christian) to the scandals, both of clergy and laity. I have suffered grievously in my life from stupid, tired, dimmed, and even bad priests; but I now know enough about myself to be aware that I should not leave the church (which for me would mean leaving the allegiance of Our Lord) for any such reasons: I should leave because I did not believe, and should not believe anymore, even if I had never met anyone in orders who was not both wise and saintly. I should deny the Blessed Sacrament, that is: call our Lord a fraud to His face.

If He is a fraud and the Gospels fraudulent – that is: garbled accounts of a demented megalomaniac (which is the only alternative), then of course the spectacle exhibited by the Church (in the sense of clergy) in history and today is simply evidence of a gigantic fraud. If not, however, then this spectacle is alas! only what was to be expected: it began before the first Easter, and it does not affect faith at all – except that we may and should be deeply grieved. But we should grieve on our Lord’s behalf and for Him, associating ourselves with the scandalized heirs not with the saints, not crying out that we cannot ‘take’ Judas Iscariot, or even the absurd & cowardly Simon Peter, or the silly women like James’ mother, trying to push her sons.

It takes a fantastic will to unbelief to suppose that Jesus never really ‘happened’, and more to suppose that he did not say the things recorded all of him – so incapable of being ‘invented’ by anyone in the world at that time: such as ‘before Abraham came to be I am’ (John viii). ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ (John ix); or the promulgation of the Blessed Sacrament in John v: ‘He that he eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.’ We must therefore either believe in Him and in what he said and take the consequences; or reject him and take the consequences. I find it for myself difficult to believe that anyone who has ever been to Communion, even once, with at least a right intention, can ever again reject Him without grave blame. (However, He alone knows each unique soul and its circumstances.)

This excerpt is taken from Letter # 250 found in the following collection: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 

Mr. Spock and The Loneliness of the Human Condition

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Mr. Spock played by Leonard Nimoy

The inspiration for todays’ post comes from an unlikely source, that being the highly logical mind of  the fictional Mr. Spock from the show Star Trek. This show has so permeated pop-culture that even those who have never seen any episodes or movies in the series probably at least have some idea of who Spock is. For those of you who somehow have lived under a rock long enough not to know anything about Star Trek or Spock, he’s the science officer of the star ship U.S.S. Enterprise. He’s half Vulcan (an alien race that suppresses all emotion and relies entirely on logic) and he is arguably the most popular character in all of Star Trek. He’s also the last person you would expect any deep theological truth to come from. Honestly I never would have guessed that my casual love of Star Trek would ever amount to anything theological significance, but in a strange twist of fate, the ever logical Mr. Spock has gotten me thinking about spiritual matters.

Last night I was watching an episode titled “Is There In Truth No Beauty” which really wasn’t a “great” episode. It was ok, but as far as Trek episodes go this one was pretty weak. It was goofy, ham-fisted, and had more 1960’s sexism than any other episode I remember. In spite of this, there were a few lines of dialogue towards the end of the episode that really made me take pause. I don’t know what the writers were trying to get across, but there was a real existential beauty to what was said.

To give a little bit of context here Spock’s body was being shared by the combined mind of both Spock and Kollos, an alien who lacks a physical form and has different senses than we do (yeah… Star Trek is weird like that).  This allows him to perceive the world around him with a new level of understanding (which somehow help’s him save the ship… I didn’t get it either…  it wasn’t a great episode). Anyways, right before Spock and Kollos separate back into two separate minds the combined mind of Spock and Kollos utters this little monologue:

“How compact your bodies are, and what a variety of senses you have. This thing you call language though… most remarkable… and you depend on it for so very much, but are any one of you really its master… But most of all… the aloneness… you are so alone… you live out your lives in this shell of flesh, self-contained… separate… how lonely you are… how terribly lonely…

– Mr. Spock

This surprisingly insightful moment really struck me as a moment in which the realization of human limitation set in for the first time in the mind of this fictional character. Perhaps you have had a similar moment, or perhaps it has never occurred to you just how limited you actually are. Most of us have been blessed with five senses (taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell) but that is all we have to observe the reality around us. If something were to exist outside of these senses we would need to invent special tools to help us comprehend it since its presence would be utterly unknown to us.  We are limited to our senses and to this one singular body. I am only aware of this tiny field of sensory that my body can comprehend, and as hard as I try I cannot know what is happening just a block away from me unless I venture forth myself or use some tool to do the observing for me. We are limited by senses, space, time, and possibly numerous other factors that we are not even perceptive enough to know exist.

We use language to try to understand and comprehend the things around us. We give names and assign words with meaning so that we can communicate the thoughts to each other, but as we constantly try to compartmentalize and break down the world around us into simple concepts we become increasingly aware that the vastness of what exists out there is beyond us. Our minds can only contain so much information, and there are still countless mysteries and so many unknown things on this little rock called Earth that we do not yet understand. To think of all that there is in this one tiny planet and then to consider the universe… it is beyond us. We are so small and so limited, we could never in a million lifetimes hope to understand everything.

One of the most frightening things I can fathom are those cold moments when we realize just how insignificant we truly are. When you consider yourself among all those who have lived, died, and who have yet to be born you should feel very small, but when you consider how small our little planet is in the solar system, and how small the solar system is in the galaxy, and how small our galaxy is in the universe… you come to the dark realization that you don’t really matter. You… we… are alone.

If this isn’t sinking in let King Solomon explain it in Biblical terms:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

– Ecclesiastes 1:2

If you haven’t read Ecclesiastes I highly recommend it even though it’s probably one of the most depressing books of the Bible. Solomon was a man who had every pleasure and resource at his disposal and in the end he found it all pointless and stupid (sorry hedonists). In the end only the Lord proved to be able to give Solomon any hope of significance or meaning, but let’s get back to the human condition. We as human beings are singular functional units that can sustain themselves for over one-hundred years or so if they put a lot of work into sustaining and maintaining their bodies, but we want so much more than survival. Human beings desperately crave meaning and purpose. We cannot deal with being a tiny insignificant carbon coincidence. We fear death because we know that that’s the end and after all that time we spent in life it was all for nothing. We’re just gone. Everything that was you… poof. Nothing you could have done would have had any real cosmic significance, you were simply here one day and then gone…

Isn’t it interesting that we desire for something unobtainable. It seems to me that a creature that is designed for survival (as we surely are) would not have come into a need for something that did not exist, after all what purpose would such a desire serve? It seems to me that man’s loneliness, his desire for purpose, his desperate need for truth must have an answer. Why else would we ever develop a desire to find it? I don’t know about you but I’ve found my answer.

We seek to reclaim the connection with God that we lost through sin. Though many may not have realized it, we all desperately crave for a connection to something greater. We may be trying to fill the void with all sorts of things good and bad, but in the end each of us has a gigantic need for something more. This life, as grand as it can be, pales in comparison to something… even if we don’t know what that something is. For those of us who know the joy and peace that comes from a relationship with our creator the answer seems obvious, but so many are still out there in the dark searching for something to drive away the loneliness.

I was like that for most of my life, but the things that used to frighten me no longer feel me with dread and terror. I do not fear the unknown, I no longer am gripped by the crippling need to fill the void in my heart, and when I face death I can do so knowing it has lost its sting. The moment I came to faith it was as if the missing puzzle peace that I was lacking fell into place. I was no longer a carbon coincidence seeking meaning in a meaningless universe, but a creation and child of a living and gracious God. I was no longer a tiny speck in the cold and dark universe that had no rhyme or reason, but instead I was a tiny speck in a bold and beautiful plan that was too large for me to grasp. I wasn’t alone, because I now can walk with my father and commune with the one who made me. Rather than seeing the universe as a dark and terrifying reminder of my insignificance and pointlessness, I can now look on it in wonder as a beautiful creation made by one whose wisdom is so beyond me. I am still limited and small, but I know have reason, purpose, faith, and a relationship with God himself.  While Mr. Spock might have realized the human condition, I doubt even he could have seen the beauty that lies at the end of those questions.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

– Romans 8:6

 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

– Colossians 3:15

My New Years Wish: 1 Timothy 1:3-7

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So today is the day for people to start making their new years resolutions and express their hopes for the upcoming new year. 2012 was a pretty crazy year all things considered and I’m sure everyone has moments that they celebrate as well as moments that they wish they could erase. I have plenty of hopes and fears for this upcoming year, but as I look forward to the year to come and what it might hold for me my New Years wish, my hope for 2013, can reflected in the advice Paul gave Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3-7.

 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

– 1 Timothy 1:3-7

In case you didn’t catch it, my New Years wish for 2013 is that we as the body of Christ will learn to avoid “meaningless talk.”  The popular saying “talk is cheap” rings true in this day and age, and it seems to me like we prefer to talk a lot more than we like to act. We live in an age of information, where opinions travel twice the speed of facts. People are quick to speak and slow to think. Everyone has to have an opinion in this day and age and people are so quick to add their own opinion to the endlessly growing pool of information out there. I think James had some sound advice in this matter:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

– James 1:9-10

Oh how I wish some people had acted like this during the many tragedies we faced this year. Instead so many people had to throw their opinions in. Everyone had to blame someone and in the wake of the blame game the voices of those affected were often drowned out by Pastors, Politicians, and Pundits who were more focused on condemning someone or something than they were lending a hand.

Words carry weight and we need to learn how to use ours more effectively and productively. Let’s get back to 1 Timothy and the sound advice that Paul gave. In verse 3 Paul states that we should be charging some so that they teach no other doctrine. Paul made it clear that the church is supposed to be preaching the doctrine of Christ and no other. I’m not going to use this opportunity to call out all my least favorite preachers, but we do need to be paying attention to what is coming out of the Church.

A lot of the time the words that the Church is exporting are not words that we would see Christ using. We need to do a better job of watching ourselves in 2013, and making sure that the love of Christ is shining through. Let’s start speaking like we actually believe that God loves every person on this planet dearly and that we believe repentance  forgiveness, and redemption are truly open to all who are willing to reach out and grasp it. Let’s try to make 2013 the year where we are know more for what we stand for (love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, kindness, generosity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control) and less about what we stand against (you can fill in the blank on this one). Let is be seen in 2013 as being more pro-Christ in 2013 than anti-____.

In 1 Timothy verse 4 Paul instructs Timothy to focus more on what is edifying and powered by faith than to get lost in endless fables and genealogies. I think this is a message that a lot of people need to hear today because I feel like an unseemly amount of time and energy is spent every year trying to argue about the literal vs. figurative creation, or the pre, post, or a-millennial view of Revelation, or the eternal hell vs. the annihilating hell, vs the non-existence of hell, or any number of pointless topics. I’m not trying to dismiss anyone who is trying to better understand the Bible and develop a better Biblical world view, but let’s get real for a moment… are any of these things furthering the Kingdom of God? If you can confidently answer “yes” then carry on, but I tend to see these as meaningless, time wasting, and division causing.  I have never heard of someone coming to Christ as a result of a well thought out argument for the local vs global Noahic flood.

I was once a post-angelical pre-millineal non-trinitarian liberationist, but now I'm a post-theistic post-modern nihilistic Christo-pacifist.

I was once a post-angelical pre-millineal non-trinitarian liberationist, but now I’m a post-theistic post-modern nihilistic Christo-pacifist. What about you?

Rather than wasting countless hours to developing a perfect understanding of a menial detail in scripture let’s do what Paul argues, and focus more so on developing a love that springs from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith. These things are not found through air tight exegesis and a PhD level understanding of hermeneutics, but from an understanding of the simple Gospel of Christ and a willingness to let God change you and work in your life.

If you want to be a great teacher of the faith then learn to love as Christ loved. You don’t need to be able to talk the theological talk or debate like St. Augustine of Hippo. Christ used simple fishermen and uneducated laborers to spread his Gospel to the world. Let’s flee from meaningless talk and pointless debates and start spending more time loving others. Let’s learn to listen rather than blurt out our opinions. Let’s learn to stop playing the blame game all the time, and start focusing on bringing people to the Lord with love and kindness. Let’s be for something for once instead of being against everything.

Happy 2013 everyone, let’s make it a good one!

The True High Priest and Our Advocate (Advent 2012 – Day 13

booksofheaven

Today’s Scripture Reads:

Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.

—Hebrews 8:1–2

Thanks to Jesus Christ we have a new priest. The link between God and man is not just another “holy” man in a robe, a man who is a sinner just like us, but rather Christ himself. Christ is our advocate and it is Christ who justifies, sanctifies, and redeems us. The old testament sacrifices and tabernacle were merely a glimpse of what was to come. A great sacrifice would be made, but it would not be a mere animal. God would be in communion with his people one day, but it wouldn’t come through a tabernacle, an ark, or a priestly order. This all would come, to the shock and surprise of many, through a carpenter’s son and a cross.

In this way we look to Christmas as a celebration of the day when the shadows began to leave and we got our first glimpse of the real thing. We celebrate the day when we could stop looking forward to God’s promises and know that they have already reached completion. We celebrate a God who loves us in spite of ourselves, and one who keeps his promises. As we look forward to Christmas we should be reminded of all those who came before Christ, those who had hope that God would act even if they did not know how or know if they would see the day. We should also remember to give thanks that we were fortunate enough to have been born in a day when Christ is our high priest and the promises of God are being fulfilled as we speak. It is a glorious time to be alive.