the Jesus threat

Todd Bumgarner posts an interesting quote from John Stott. what do you think about this?

The context is Stott talking about the first century Jewish people and their priests and how they reacted and responded to Jesus’ ministry:

“So they felt threatened by Jesus.  He undermined their prestige, their hold over the people, their own self-confidence and self-respect, while leaving his intact.  They were “envious” of him, and therefore determined to get rid of him.  It is significant that Matthew recounts two jealous plots to eliminate Jesus, the first by Herod the Great at the beginning of his life and the other by the priests at its end.  Both felt their authority under threat.  So both sought to “destroy” Jesus (Mt 2:13; 27:20 AV). However outwardly respectable the priests’ political and theological arguments may have appeared, it was envy which led them to “hand over” Jesus to Pilate to be destroyed (Mk 15:1, 10).

The same evil passion influences our own contemporary attitudes to Jesus.  He is still, as C. S. Lewis called him, “a transcendental interferer.” We resent his intrusions into our privacy, his demand for our homage, his expectation of our obedience. Why can’t he mind his own business, we ask petulantly, and leave us alone? To which he instantly replies that we are his business and that he will never leave us alone. So we too perceive him as a threatening rival who disturbs our peace, upsets our status quo, undermines our authority and diminishes our self-respect. We too want to get rid of him.”

John Stott, The Cross of Christ. p58


the Ministry of Meekness

Continuing to read Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we arrive on pages 95-97 at his description of the ministry of meekness that Christians owe to one another:

Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself. He will know that his own wisdom reached the end of its tether when Jesus forgave him. He remembers the ambition of the first man who wanted to know what is good and evil and perished in his wisdom……Because the Christian can no longer fancy that he is wise he will also have no high opinion of his own schemes and plans. He will know that it is good for his own will to be broken in the encounter with his neighbor. He will be ready to consider his neighbor’s will more important and urgent than his own.
Finally, one extreme thing must be said. To forego self-conceit and to associate with the lowly means, in all soberness and without mincing the matter, to consider oneself the greatest of sinners. This arouses all the resistance of the natural man, but also that of the self-confident Christian…..There can be no genuine acknowledgment of sin that does not lead to this extremity. If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all. My sin is of necessity the worst, the most grievous, the most reprehensible. Brotherly love will find any number of extenuations for the sins of others; only for my sin is there no apology whatsoever. Therefore my sin is the worst. He who would serve his brother in the fellowship must sink all the way down to these depths of humility.

emphasis added

compare this to Jesus speaking to his disciples in Mark 10:

42 q And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles r lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But s it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [4] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be t slave [5]of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but u to serve, and v to give his life as a ransom for w many.”

different perspectives

Todd Bumgarner has posted a contrast in perspectives:

“If you will keep the right attitude, God will take care of all your disappointments, broken dreams, the hurts and pains, and He’ll add up all the trouble and sorrow that’s been inflicted on you, and He will pay you back with twice as much peace, joy, happiness, and success.”

–Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now (New York, NY: Faith Words), p 77.

Now, contrast that with Jesus’ words to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

for further comparison, if you have some time, check out these verses that I collected in response to a question:

Mt. 10:37-39; Mt. 16:24-28, Mt. 18:2-4; Mk. 2:17, Mk. 8:34-38; Mk. 10:42-45; Luke 9 esp v. 23-27, 46-48 and 57-62; Lk. 14:25-33; Lk. 21:1-4; Jn. 2:24-26 and Jn. 15:18-21.

the Shack part IV (conclusion)

this is the wrap up of my series on The Shack. Part I, Part II and Part III are intended to convey to you that God is God.

The reason that I am so exercised about this book is simple. The god portrayed in this book is not the God of the bible. Papa is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Papa is not the God who delivered the Israelites from Pharoah. Jesus in the Shack is not that Jesus preached about by John the Baptist. Jesus in the Shack is not the Jesus who taught that unless we all repent we will all likewise perish.

I am afraid that if someone reads the Shack and falls in love with Papa, then all they have fallen in love with is a fictional African American woman who likes to cook and give hugs. They have not been led to God. They have not fallen in love with the biblical Jesus.

They have instead been distracted by an anthropomorphic three headed idol created by W. Paul Young.

God does love you. He loved you enough to send His only Son to die on your behalf and in your place. He planned for this rescue and reconciliation from before the foundation of the world.

The God who would do that for us when we had nothing to offer Him back is a God of great love and mercy.

But here’s the thing that is glossed over, ignored, and contradicted by the Shack repeatedly. God is also holy. God is also righteous. God is concerned foremost with His glory. God requires repentance of us in order to be restored into fellowship with Him.

Failure to repent and confess Jesus as Lord will result in perishing. This truth makes the gift of salvation even more glorious and that is why the Shack is so incredibly bad. If we aren’t that bad, then salvation means less. If God won’t really destroy us then we don’t really need to be saved.

the Shack part III

I have written two posts (part I and part II) now rebutting with scripture this statement from “Sophia” in the Shack:

“But I still don’t understand why Missy had to die.”

“She didn’t have to, Mackenzie. This was no plan of Papa’s. Papa has never needed evil to accomplish his good purposes. It is you humans who have embraced evil and Papa has responded with goodness. What happened to Missy was the work of evil and no one in your world is immune from it.”

emphasis added.

You might be thinking that all that stuff about the Babylonians being prepared by God to wreak His vengeance on Judah as His sword is all just a bunch of Old Testament God meanness that doesn’t really apply in this modern church age of grace and mercy.

You are correct that God is exhibiting extreme patience with humanity right now in order to maximize the number of people who will accept His call to salvation. The problem is that we presume upon this patience and we begin to get a false picture of who God is and how seriously He takes His own holiness and glory. We begin to act as if we are the centerpieces of the universe when, in fact, He is.

Two quick examples from Jesus himself to show you that God in Ezekiel is very much exemplified in Jesus and the current time.

The first is John 9. A man blind from birth is encountered by Jesus and his disciples:

1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

emphasis added.

do you see that? a man was born blind and lived his entire life as an outcast blind beggar. Is that a bad thing? Just happenstance? the result of sin? NO. This man and his parents had to endure a life of blindness in himself and their son so that “the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Does that make you mad? or does that make you celebrate with this born blind man that he was considered to be worthy of such an honor?
your answer to this question will tell you a lot about your feelings toward God.

the second example is the one that John Piper wrote about after the bridge collapse in Minneapolis Minnesota from Luke 13:

1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

and of course you all remember John the Baptist’s message about Jesus, don’t you?

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

the message is clear. God still requires repentance. The kingdom of heaven that Jesus came to initiate is one based upon repentance. Failure to repent in the new covenant still leads to certain destruction at the hand of God’s “winnowing fork”

conclusion to come.

what is christmas?

love this video.

That’s Christmas! from andy pearce on Vimeo.

hat tip to Adrian Warnock

what is community?

I have been struggling with what a christian community should really be for almost six years now.

Acts 2:42 says that the first church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to prayer, to fellowship and to the breaking of bread.

that seems simple enough, except that there aren’t any more apostles around and we don’t seem to discern any difference between fellowship and breaking bread. I have posted previously about the essential elements of a church/faith community as well as what that could look like in our time.

I want to focus in for this post and a couple more on that word “fellowship.” it is the greek word koinōnia. according to Thayer’s Lexicon on that same link, the second definition is intercourse, fellowsip, intimacy, and indicates the intimate bond that unites Christians. It means much more than what we typically mean by the word “fellowship” today. We usually call it fellowship when we get together for a potluck supper. Fellowship can happen at the potluck, but usually doesn’t.

I would say that christian fellowship in a faith community has to have at least these three elements:

1. community
2. transparency
3. authenticity

Community means simply living life together in love with all of its pain and all of its glory. Acts 2:44-45 says that the first faith community “were together and had all things in common”. It also says that they sold their stuff and made sure that everybody had something. Does this mean that we need to go all David Koresh and buy a compound to live a communal life? Of course not. You have to think about the circumstances of this first group. Whether they were previously Jews or Gentiles, they were no longer accepted by their former friends and family. They were outcasts without inheritance or employability. Under the unique circumstances presented be this first faith community, the needed fellowship reaction was to share stuff and get through the immediate crisis of being ostracized from every bit of their former life. To prevent the creation of an overly introspective commune, God sent along a persecution after the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7 that resulted in a diaspora of the faithful throughout Asia Minor and even into Europe.

No, Community means more than just the particular manifestion of it in Acts 2:44-45. Galatians 6:2 says that we are to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. But then in verse 5 it says that each one will have to bear his own load. Thus, the law of Christ requires that we sometimes bear one another’s burdens in spite of the default that most of the time we are to bear our own load.

The law of Christ is that we love God with all of our heart soul mind and strength and that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus made this more explicit in John 13:34-35 when he told his disciples that he was giving them a new commandment: to love one another. He said that the whole world would recognize that we are his disciples by our love for one another. The word love in John 13:33 is agapaō. It means to prefer others over ourselves. That kind of love for one another is to be our calling card to the world. a self-sacrificing seeking of the good of our brothers and sisters over our own. You can see how that would attract attention.

We must band together in Communities that are characterized by sacrificial love for one another. I Peter 4:8 says that we need to keep our love for one another at full strength because love covers a multitude of sins. The word love here is agapē. When we sacrificially love one another, we can shake off the slights that come our way out of temporary frustration or slippage into sinful patterns by our fellow believers.

That kind of community is what the church is supposed to be. Doing whatever it takes for the benefit of the others. if that means selling some stuff and sharing the proceeds or if it means taking care of kids when somebody is in the hospital, or if it simply means kicking somebody in the rear when they need to quit moping and get back in the game.

Love should lead the way for us as believers. Love can be soft or it can be hard, but it should always seek the best interest of the others rather than our own best interest.

that’s enough for now. later I will look more closely at transparency and accountability and their role in christian fellowship.