Friday, October 26, 2007

Gospel Fresh

I wake up to NPR, therefore I have no business discussing anything that I think I heard because my brain takes a good while to sharpen up in the morning. Not to mention I never hear an interview all the way through since I am constantly reaching over to smack the snooze button. However, I caught something this morning that I piqued my interest.

The hosts of the particular shows were making a transition, one show to the next. They were briefly discussing the interview that had just concluded; an interview that had lots of religious conversation. The host that had performed the interview said something very interesting to me. She stated that the interviewee had a "fresh perspective" on religious issues.

Now, I don't entirely know what that means in the context of the interview, but I do know that I have been hearing that statement a lot lately concerning religious issues. Churches are claiming to take a "fresh" look at the Bible. My parents church has a service called "fresh blend (as if the service was a cup of coffee. What ever happened to first service and second service anyway?)." Bringing an Eastern influence into your Western religious experience seems to be something "fresh."

I guess that my question is this: what is our motivation behind making something appear fresh? If we, as Christians, attempt to take a "fresh" look at the Bible are we really taking a "fresh" look at the Bible? Is the Gospel not fresh enough? God became man, an yet was still God, came to the Earth that He spoke into existence, lived for the majority of His life as a carpenter, ministered for a few years, all while never committing sin. Then, in the greatest act of love in the history of the World, died so that those who the Father had given Him could live with Him forever sharing in His glory for all of eternity. Not to mention the death that took Him could not hold Him and is now reigning at the right hand of the Father and will be seated there forever upon forever.

If you think that needs to be "fresher," by all means add to it. As for me, I will rest in the freshness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Understanding Little Understanding

There are so many things that I do not understand; so many things leave me puzzling for hours. And when my mind is battered and bruised I am only inclined to one response.

The paradoxes that exist within Christianity are indeed immense. And I use the word “paradox” not in a way that questions the legitimacy of the truth that has been revealed to me, but rather as a word, if speaking about anything other than these deep truths (with the Word of God as my canon), would seem borderline ridiculous. And yet these paradoxes occur intensely and without end it seems. I will elaborate.

I am fascinated to continue to find that God is large. He encompasses all that is. He is completely sovereign over all creation (Isaiah 45:9, 46:8-11, Psalm 115:3, 135:6, Romans 9:18-24). He foreordained all that there has been, is, and ever will be (Jeremiah 1:5, John 10:14, Acts 2:23, Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 2:8-9). He is in and of Himself all-sufficient. He is majestic and powerful. He is just and the justifier (Romans 3:26). He is everything that is beautiful. He cannot be contained or manipulated or changed or brought to an end. He is everlasting (Isaiah 9:6, Psalm 90:2). He controls the furthermost galaxies down to every neutron orbiting around a nucleus that exists at every time since time began. He is the sustainer of all things. He is all-knowing (Psalm 139), completely supreme (I Chronicles 29:11-12), all- powerful (Psalm 62:11), and good in all He does (Psalm 52:1). And He is, most importantly, all that we are not, and that is Holy, Holy, Holy (Isaiah 6:3-5, I John 1:5, Revelation 15:4). God indeed is God.

And yet this supreme Deity has called on us to partake with Him in His infinite Glory! Why? Do you see the divine paradox? God loves us and has called us to be with Him and share in his Glory. But a God who is bound by nothing, limited to nothing, infinite in everyway, calls His lowly creation, made disgusting by sin, to be blanketed by the righteousness of His Son who was sent into the world to suffer and serve that those whom His Father had given Him might be saved. Why? This is inconceivable. We know that God’s Glory is not contingent on His creature. Jesus tells us in John 8 that the Father seeks His own Glory. And we know that Jesus’ witness is true because only a few lines later He says, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus was with the Father from before time and He is God. He claims it right here. Moses saw the burning bush and asked who was sending him and God’s reply was “I am who I am.” And if we believe that the incomplete list in the previous paragraph is true and that God is indeed all of those things, than we must believe that God’s Glory is maximized at all times. His Glory is completely contained within Himself. And yet He wants to share it with His people (John 17:22, Romans 8:30). God indeed is love.

As those chosen by the Father, given to Christ, how are we to respond to this? Recently this has been what I have found: We are to strive. But we are not to strive blindly and without purpose, but rather to enter God’s rest as the author speaks of in Hebrews 4. Here is the only place that we can truly find peace and understand the love that God has bestowed upon us through the saving power of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And I administer this warning: emphasis on God being God or God being Love without the desire to understand the other amazing side of His person is ludicrous. In Him, God has made us to lean to one side or to the other, but if He has positioned us on the left we must strive all the more to enter the rest of the Father through the narrow gate of Jesus Christ that we may know the right and become balanced. True understanding that God is God will drive us to want to understand His love and experience His attributes firsthand. Just as true understanding that God is Love should drive us to want to know God’s infiniteness even more so that His love may become incorruptible in our minds.

But how is this attained? Back to rest. All we can do is pray that God will grant us the proper response. Seeking Christ is all we can do and that requires resting in Him. Hebrews 4 also says “strive to enter that rest.” What does that mean? Simply that the rest of Christ is what we desire. We do not rest in worldly things, but in Christ alone. That is much easier said than done and that is why the command is to strive.

God is God; we are not. Rest in that. God is Love; He delights in the welfare of His people. Rest in that.