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What Should Make Christianity…. different?

20170124_103703Devotional Thought of the Day:

I tell you that this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 44 Everyone else gave what they didn’t need. But she is very poor and gave everything she had. Now she doesn’t have a cent to live on.  Mark 12:43-44 CEV

By the words “to save” we understand the whole of the great work of salvation, from the first holy desire onward to complete sanctification. The words are multum in parro: indeed, here is all mercy in one word. Christ is not only “mighty to save” those who repent, but he is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but he is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of his name to bend the knee before him. Nay, this is not all the meaning, for the divine power is equally seen in the after-work. The life of a believer is a series of miracles wrought by “the Mighty God.”

The pagan knew the fact that our hearts are restless, but he did not know the reason. Christianity supplies the reason, the key to the lock, the answer to the puzzle pondered by the great philosophers Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, even by Qoheleth in the book of Ecclesiastes. All these thinkers believed in a God, but they were not happy because they did not know God was love. Socrates worshipped the unknown God whom he would not name and knew he did not know. Plato’s God was impersonal truth and goodness. Aristotle’s God was a cosmic first mover who could be known and loved but who did not know or love us. Cicero’s God was only a vague object of “piety”. And the God of Ecclesiastes sat unmoving and unknown in Heaven while man’s life on earth remained “vanity of vanities, all is vanity”

172 Augustine says very clearly, “All the commandments of God are kept when what is not kept is forgiven.”1 Therefore even in good works he requires our faith that for Christ’s sake we please God and that the works in themselves do not have the value to please God.
173 Against the Pelagians, Jerome writes, “We are righteous, therefore, when we confess that we are sinners; and our righteousness does not consist in our own merit, but in God’s mercy.”

The novel Christian reality is this: Christ’s Resurrection enables man genuinely to rejoice. All history until Christ has been a fruitless search for this joy. That is why the Christian liturgy—Eucharist—is, of its essence, the Feast of the Resurrection, Mysterium Paschae. As such it bears within it the mystery of the Cross, which is the inner presupposition of the Resurrection.

This morning I came across some very powerful quotes in my reading.  I love them, whether it is from a soon to be pope (Ratzinger), an incredible philosopher (Kreeft), a group of rebels (the early Lutherans), or a British pastor who was perhaps, the first mega-church pastor.

They all point to one thing, the fact that Christianity is different. Philosophers tried to point to him, but they couldn’t understand God. That the Eucharist does, more clearly perhaps than anything else, for we encounter and experience Jesus there.  In the mercy of God which makes our broken lives perfect as God grants to us repentance and sanctification – as He completely saves us.

What an incredible concept, this salvation.

But do we really comprehend this blessing, this gift?

I do not think we do, at least not always.

How about this explanation.  We (the church) are like children at Christmas, more interested in playing with the box our present came in than actually enjoying the present.

Salvation, the complete work of God is so large a gift, we cannot understand it. But we can experience it, and it does more than change us. Jesus does more than give us life, He is that life. That is what makes Christianity different, it is the religion that is more than a relationship, for a relationship cannot begin to express what living in Christ is like.

The old lady with the two pennies experienced it. She wasn’t impressed with the box, she simply enjoyed walking with God, and gave what she had that others would as well.

We don’t even know her name, and she could care less.

She was with God, and among His people, as broken, as misdirected, as….unfocused on what she knew and responded to…

May we be more like her….. and enjoy living in Christ, as the children the Father loves.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 39–40.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 130–131.

Joseph Ratzinger, The Feast of Faith: Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 65.

What Would Socrates Think of Our Facebook Profiles?

Featured imageDevotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
15  You haven’t received the spirit of slaves that leads you into fear again. Instead, you have received the spirit of God’s adopted children by which we call out, “Abba! Father!” 16  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17  If we are his children, we are also God’s heirs. If we share in Christ’s suffering in order to share his glory, we are heirs together with him. Romans 8:15-17 (GW)

Do not forget: anyone who does not realize that he is a child of God is unaware of the deepest truth about himself. When he acts, he lacks the dominion and self-mastery we find in those who love our Lord above all else. (1)

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  (attributed to Socrates)

One of my favorite authors back in my collegiate days was Peter Kreeft.  He had a couple of books that portrayed the average college student, questing after the best things in life. Socrates would show up on campus, and through some strategically asked questions, the person would find their quest changing, and what they would see is that they needed God.

They needed to see reality from His perspective.  By asking themselves the questions that Socrates put forth, they realized how twisted life becomes, and how what we desire, isn’t what we desire.

The questions weren’t easy to face; The same questions we need to face, the questions that aren’t easy, either.

Will we face them?  Especially as we put our views out on FB as if we were had the knowledge of Einstein, or the Wisdom of Pope Francis, or the power of a president or a king?  FB is the place that empowers us to put whatever we want out for the world to read. We might even think that it happens without consequence. We will use the power of FB and Twitter to announce that we are gods?  That we have the authority to determine what is right, no matter what God says.  That we have the authority to condemn those who are evil, not according to scripture, but because we think they are.  We may be the conservative calling those who sin differently to repentance, we might be the liberal condemning those who don’t see things our way, and throwing away our religion.  Will we continue to defend our divinity, and deny it to those unlike us?

Or will we, in humble awe, with incredible adoration, realize that God has desired, made possible, and re-created us to be the children of God?

Examining our life, asking the questions that Socrates would ask, guiding us into what is real, what is important, brings us to a shocking reality.

That we aren’t gods, but that we desperately need a God, who cares, who loves, who heals, who guides and empowers us.  A God who instructs us how to love, not just by laying down the guidelines, but is the example of that perfect life.

The deepest truth?  Yeah – we were sinners, we still struggle incredibly with sin. If we say, we don’t, we lie, and accuse God of being a liar.  But the deepest truth is that He will make sinners saints, and is doing so now.

We have to realize that God neither approves of our sin.  That like the women caught in adultery, His words are, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Rather Jesus gives us repentance as He reconciles us to Him, helping us to endure, and healing us of the sin’s damage, and restoring us to life.

That is who we are, the children of God, the friends of Christ.

to base our lives on any other identity, is to fail to examine our life, and is to live life as a lie.

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). Friends of God (Kindle Locations 619-621). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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