Saturday, September 05, 2015
Friday, September 04, 2015
You Need Help
Some Christians, and not just new believers among them, take this “me and God” approach to reading Scripture. They have learned from Matthew 15 not to be like the Pharisees, whom Jesus said exalted human tradition over God’s Word. They also try to heed Paul’s warning not to succumb to “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition” (Col. 2:8, ESV used throughout). They have concluded, therefore, that Scripture teaches that church tradition—and all the perspectives and human-derived interpretations that it carries with it—should not color our reading of God’s Word.Most Christians I know have gone through a phase like this. It is almost always born of having been hurt deeply by the church or having watched the church deeply hurt someone they care about. It is one of those places where sin really confuses our thinking. It is one of those places that has me making sure I always read "The Screwtape Letters" - again.
Is that what the Bible itself teaches?
Paul commended the Corinthians for “maintain[ing] the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2).
ANd the funny thing is, if we read scripture with others, even without the benefit of tradition, they will help us to see how we are thinking about things. They will help us to see that we are letting our emotions stand in the way of our reason when we try to understand this.
Tradition can become old and staid, but selfishness is really the issue. We can breath life into tradition if we seek to understand it and adopt it for our own. But then that might allow God to really work on our hearts.
Thursday, September 03, 2015
During This Time
So, in between the salvation brought about when Jesus first came and the blessed hope of when Jesus will come again, what has God called us to do? It’s there in verse 14: God has purified a people for his own possession for a reason; to do something.The whole thing is not about what we do so much as it is about who we are when we do what we do.
The final words of Titus 2:14 literally mean, “zealous (totally committed) to excellent/beautiful works.”
For years, I over-spiritualized texts like this. I presumed God’s call to his people to merely do “good work” alone could not be godly enough. I thought, Surely God must mean "evangelism" when he says "good works" since all other work is not significant. But this is not so. According to the highly-respected Greek Lexicon written by Louw and Nida, the Greek word for “work” (ergon) simply means, “that which one normally does—‘work, task.’”
Sometimes I wonder if the reason we focus on what we do so much is so we can avoid dealing with who we are. It's as if we think that annual mission trip makes up for being a jerk the rest of the time when we are home. Really, seriously, do you think that is what God intended? If you do, then maybe we need to talk.
character ministry work
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
"It' Not Convenient"
The United States has perfected the art of convenience. For instance, if we don’t want to get out of our car to order food, no problem. We invented the drive-thru, the most iconic of American institutions, where we can sit in the comfort of our car and order food from an unintelligible talking box as we inhale carbon monoxide from the car in front of us. Convenience has become so omnipresent in American society that it is no longer an amenity but a necessity, even a right. When we are robbed of our convenience, we react as if we are being robbed of our property or life.Very wise words for this age.
Rather than standing against this cultural phenomenon, the church often conforms to it. In an admirable but terribly misguided attempt to reach all people, we succumb to our culture’s veneration of convenience. We cram a Sunday service, that blessed celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, into a single hour or even less. We go to great lengths to minimize any possible inconvenience to church attendees, and in so doing, we communicate to our people that convenience possesses great value. And American Christians have internalized this notion so completely that nowadays people are downright miffed when church goes beyond its time limits, and they have to miss kickoff or tee time or brunch as a result. Convenience has become king, but not just in American society—in American churches as well.
Yet by its nature, Christianity is inconvenient. The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us what true ministry looks like: it requires that we selflessly sacrifice our time, our safety, our money, and, yes, even our convenience, to serve those who are in need. And what more perfect illustration of inconvenience is there than the Incarnation, that God would leave the perfection of heaven to become a man and walk with us through the mess of our lives, even submitting to the most terrible “inconvenience” of all: the crucifixion. Convenience is nothing less than a heresy that runs contrary to some of the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
I realize that many Christians try to find in Ephesians 5 a command for husbands to exercise authority over their wives. They argue by implication from the instruction to women to submit and from their notion of male headship. They believe that Paul assumes this without saying it. Yet, even if their argument is valid, it tends to ignore the astounding fact that Paul did not actually tell husbands to exercise authority over their wives. Rather, he told them to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave up himself for her. (Curiously, the only place in all of Paul’s letters that speaks of a husband’s authority over his wife also speaks of a wife’s authority over her husband, not mutual submission, but mutual authority. See 1 Corinthians 7:4.)I would argue that sacrificial love is the source of authority and what is demanded of those that exercise authority.
Lest there be any confusion about the kind of love required of husbands, Ephesians adds: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (5:25). Christ’s love for the church is revealed, most clearly, in his sacrifice on the cross. This sets a high bar for husbands, to say the least. It also begins to balance the instruction to wives. A wife is to submit to a husband who loves her and gives up himself for her. Not much room for selfishness here, not to mention domination or abuse. Wives submit to their husbands by receiving their self-giving love.
The problem understanding this passage is a deep misconception of what it means to exercise authority. The world would be a much better place if we understood authority better.
authority biblical scripture
Monday, August 31, 2015
We need to spend less time forming Jesus into an appealing hero of our own design, and more time being transformed by Jesus into a holy people.AMEN!
Jesus image transformation