Discussion Thought of the Day:
8 Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ 9 and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. 10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, 11 so that somehow I also may be raised to life. Philippians 3:8-11 (CEV)
11 1. Hence we reject and deem it as false and detrimental when men teach that the Gospel, strictly speaking, is a proclamation of conviction and reproof and not exclusively a proclamation of grace. Thereby the Gospel is again changed into a teaching of the law, the merit of Christ and the Holy Scriptures are obscured, Christians are robbed of their true comfort,….
32 You’ll never be a leader if you see others only as stepping-stones to get ahead. You’ll be a leader if you are ambitious for the salvation of all souls. You can’t live with your back turned on everyone; you have to be eager to make others happy.
This week before Holy Week has been incredibly thought provoking.
One of the reasons is the amount of death that has affected people I care for, not just because I am their pastor, but because God has joined us together.
The other reason is the constant bombardment of negative Christian podcasts, blogs, tweets and comments, especially from those within my own small section of Christianity.
Finally, the gulf between those two reasons, and the grief and concern it raises in me.
St. Paul’s words above stand in sharp contrast to what I read. His desire, to know Christ, to see the Holy Spirit at work, revealing, transforming, and drawing people to Christ, even as He was drawn to Christ.
Certainly, in the face of death, that is all that matters. to know and be known.
Certainly, in the face of our sin, and the injustice and unrighteousness of the world, to know Jesus is what gives us hope.
Certainly, as we encounter the world, it is what makes the difference between anxiety and peace.
So why don’t our words reflect this hope? Why do the words posted by those in the church focus more on topics that are condescending and divisive? Do we somehow feel we aren’t good Christians unless we step on others, crushing their beliefs, rather than gently reforming them? That we have to humiliate those not like us, mock them, spit on them and nail them to Christ’s cross?
Don’t we realize if we lift Him up in our praises, that He will draw all men to Himself?
We need to grow in desire to see all men saved, but that answer to that isn’t found primarily in better understanding of theology, where though accurate, the gospel is never mentioned. It isn’t in some better use of some program or initiative.
it is at the foot of the cross, where broken sinners find healing, and joy and peace….and forgiveness, and the hope of being quickened to life with God, for ever.
As Jesus glory, the very love of God, welcomes us home and overwhelmed by joy, we find a desire for everyone to join us, with Him.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 479). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 235-238). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
24 The father at once cried out, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!” Mark 9:24 (TEV)
8 No, the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. Micah 6:8 (TEV)
FAITH IS SOMETHING we need to ask for. God forbid that we should fail to be importunate with God and with his saints. One of the most refined forms of arrogance consists in claiming that prayer of petition is inferior to other forms of prayer . Only when we become beggars do we realize that we are creatures. When we don’t honor the faith of humble folk, who can teach us how to ask for what we need, then we think that what saves us is pure faith; but that is empty faith, a faith devoid of all religion and all piety. In such a state, we are unable to interpret religious experience. Our intellects go astray with their feeble lights, and we resort to explaining the truth of faith with slogans borrowed from cultural ideologies . (1)
This quote from a pope is one we desperately need to hear, especially those of us who spend any amount of time on Facebook or any other social media.
For far too often we reduce our faith on social media to a snappy quote, a “gotcha” meme, or even try to debate theology or the existence of God in 140 character bursts. What this does is what Pope Francis talks about above – a faith without experiencing God. A Creed, a statement of “faith” that is not communicated, but forced in a way that eliminates conversation, that eliminates discussion. Such burst messages don’t give the full picture, they miss the context, and therein is the problem.
One of my professors once said that good preaching and good theology contains not only the “what”, but the “so what”. How the message impacts the hearer, or in the case of tweets, the reader. How do those words, seen digitally on the screen communicate the need we have to relate to God, to live in fellowship with Him? How can we help people realize that God is dependable, and that they can depend on Him? Even that sentence doesn’t include the incarnation, the death and resurrection of Christ. It doesn’t shake us from our idol of self-sufficiency, our illusion that we can control our world, our environment. For that is where humility begins, knowing that we can’t possibly be God, and in humility finding out that is okay.
Because God,, loves us enough to give up everything for us.
Neither the Pope or I am claiming you need more words to be holier, or more intellectual, but that deep faith is born in deep need. Holiness originating in us, in our brokenness, healing of our lives comes as we realize how shattered they are. It is at those points, when we cry out to God, that we can hear His voice.
And that is what faith, what the “Christian religion” is about – walking humbly with God, in a conversation, assured that He will guide us, comfort us, heal us. Because He has proven, in Christ, the extent to which He will go, and has gone, to do this very thing.
May we today walk humbly, knowing we are His children, and He is our Heavenly father. …
Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (p. 28). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.