Perhaps a better title would be A Scriptural Response to Racism but this is copied and pasted directly from a Facebook post I put up yesterday. There is so much upheaval in the world today and we are bombarded with information from traditional media to social media 24/7. When it gets to be too much, the Christian believer needs to step back, take a breath, and remember that we are in the world but not of the world.
I don’t mean an official resolution passed by any group of representatives from any church denomination; my congregation will tell you that we read a lot of scripture. Every sermon, every Wednesday night Bible study, every Sunday school lesson begins with reading scripture and keeps going back to it. So this is not any particular Christian leader’s response to racism, this should be “our” response to hate and racism anywhere based on the inspired Word we live by. Continue reading →
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
Jesus is the image of of the invisible God. When we could not come to God, he came to us. When we could see God, the man Jesus – in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell – appeared. If you want to know how much God hates sin, look at the cross. If you want to know how much God loves you… look at the cross. Continue reading →
I hope that in 2013 you manage to loose 10 lbs, make it to the gym 3 times a week, quit smoking, and/or finish the great American novel. But for Christians – rather than trying harder to be better people, what we really need to do is be more Christ-like.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
(Titus 3:1-2 ESV)
Remind them; nothing new, just an encouragement to keep doing the things we already know. Be salt and light, keep building the Kingdom. And don’t worry about turning over a new leaf; if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Welcome to 2013.
Over the weekend I got a rather feisty comment on my Ellen DeGeneras post from February (link). The commenter railed on Christians that would still shop at JC Penny after they “actively supported this!” I thought the article was clear that what the retail chain supported was buying more stuff; they sell lots of women’s clothing and DeGeneras is a public iconic figure that wears women’s clothing and probably knows a thing or two about shopping. Mr. Smith, in his comment, used words like faggot, queers, and terms such as “the homos” and suggested we would talk about his language while ignoring the depravity around us. Which does beg the question: What should the Christian response be to the proliferation of homosexuality in our culture? Continue reading →
How many times have you bitten into a delicious slice of cheesecake (insert favorite dessert here) and made the statement “I’m in Heaven?” Listening to beautiful music, attending a wedding reception, or perhaps sitting at home in a rare moment of peace and quiet can move us to feel that way at times; this is what heaven must be like. Do you ever feel that way at church?
My dad wrote a song about the church titled The Nearest Thing to Heaven. Like old country music, even Dad’s gospel songs were made of two things: 3 chords and the truth. The point of the song is simple; the Church (universal) should be the nearest thing to heaven you can find on earth. While he acknowledges there are problems and that no person nor congregation is perfect, the Church is (or should be) filled with God’s people. The Church is made up of disciples of Jesus, who are continuously learning to be more Christ-like. In short, the Church should be populated with God’s people, led by and filled with the Holy Spirit, and working for the Kingdom. With Christ as its head, the Church should be the body. That should be manifest in our worship and in our service. Worship takes place in the church building, while our service takes place Monday through Saturday outside of the church building.
The goal of Christians is to be conformed to the image of Christ. The reason we ask “What would Jesus do?” is to put ourselves in the right frame of mind to be Christ-like in our decision making (Philippians 2). We know from reading the Gospels and the letters of Paul that we are to think like Christ, to have the heart and mind of a servant, to be humble, to love as Christ loved, and so forth. Like John the Baptist we must make less of ourselves and more of Christ. Realizing that we can never become perfectly like Christ, the goal is to continuously work at it. As we get closer and closer, others should be able to see Christ in us. They were called Christians first at Antioch why? Because the followers of Christ at Antioch sounded and acted like the one they were following.
Ephesians 3 mentions one way to be Christ-like, which I had never noticed before. Read Colossians 1, noting verse 19 that says “For in him [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…” Jesus was incarnate deity, the person of God robed in a body of flesh. One aspect of Jesus Christ is that he was full of God. Now look at Ephesians 3, a short chapter in which Paul reveals the mystery of the Gospel. In particular:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV
There are many things we can choose to fill ourselves with; Paul says we should be full of God.
I don’t have a “Watch and Share File” but take a look at this. Leon Brown wrote an article listing three common objections people have to receiving the Gospel. In a sit down interview he discusses those objections and lists practical responses.
I’m listening to Leon Brown and thinking about the ministry of Jesus. Jesus was not thinking about the number of baptisms he could list or the number of contacts he could report making. His ministry wasn’t about sheer numbers as much as it was about changing people’s lives; real people that he cared about. Jesus sometimes argued with religious leaders, but he didn’t really waste a lot of time on them. He was more likely talking to tax collectors and prostitutes, touching lepers, preaching the Gospel to the poor, or explaining the kingdom to the working class.
There’s a lot of wisdom in the things Leon Brown says, but notice also how he carries himself and the mind set with which he approaches sharing the Gospel. He is sowing seeds rather than trying to win a debate about how everyone else is wrong. This is some of the most practical apologetics I’ve heard in a long time. Let me blunt:
We should all listen to this guy and share the Gospel the way he does.