Being Offensive Like Jesus

The last few months I’ve been preaching through Luke. I’m amazed at how offensive Jesus is. By offensive I mean, “not defensive.” He takes it right to people.

Luke 14 is a classic example. He is invited into someone’s house for a meal. He confronts religious types trying to trick Him, nails all the guests for fighting over the best seats, upbraids His host for inviting the wrong crowd and then takes an innocent comment (seemingly) from a guy sitting next to Him to launch yet again.

It’s really amazing. Over and over people sayJesus is all love and grace, yet you don’t get this sense observing His interactions with people. The case can be made that He is indeed showing love and grace by confronting lies, yet this is not what people mean by “Jesus is all love and grace!”

Jesus does not like sin. He abhors self-righteousness and arrogance. He never skips an opportunity to level people who are guilty of these things. After Jesus leaves the dinner, He walks away with a large multitude of people following Him.

Does Jesus try to pump them up, or preach a nice simple message that will make the crowd bigger? Nope, He attacks them, says they need to hate their mom and dad and take up a cross. He’s relentless in His desire to offend the sensibilities of self-righteous people.

He did a fantastic job and it led to His crucifixion. If we have the mind of Christ and are to walk in His steps, how ought we to deal with others? Or was this just a role for a Messiah with a death wish?

Not only did Jesus’ crowds get smaller, any crowd hearing this stuff today will get smaller too.

Friend of Publicans and Sinners

Frequently we are told that Jesus was a “friend of publicans and sinners.” Generally we are told this while being told either

1) don’t judge
2) sin doesn’t matter
3) God is love not judgy.

Let’s look at the context of the phrase:

Matthew 9 says that publicans and sinners came and ate with him. This phrase also comes up in Matthew 11 where Jesus quotes the Pharisees charging Him, “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.”

The only time the Bible says Jesus was a “friend of publicans and sinners” is when Jesus is quoting their lies about Him, including that He was a drunk and a partier. Yes, He did eat a meal where they came and sat by Him, but He does not see Himself as a friend to them.

Being a friend of publicans and sinners was a way for Pharisees to ridicule His character. Jesus never claims that publicans and sinners are His friend.

In fact, if one wants to talk about whom Jesus was a friend of, we need not look much further than John 15:14, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

I wonder why we hear about the friend of publicans and sinners verse more than this one? Hmmm, wondering. Let me know if you come up with any ideas.

Thoughts on Intercession

Random thoughts on intercession:

Hebrews 9 tells us that Christ ascended to heaven to be our High Priest, to intercede on our behalf. His intercession is better because His sacrifice is better and He is a better priest. Also, the earthly temple was a picture of the heavenly reality.

Because of all this we can have assurance that Christ intercedes on our behalf and His intercession goes on as long as He does, which is, like, forever.

–Question is: who interceded on behalf of believers before Christ ascended?

In the OT we see intercession take place all over. We see sacrifices almost immediately (cain and Abel), showing they knew they needed to shed blood to take care of sin.

Moses and Aaron intercede pretty much every day to stop plagues from wiping out whiny wilderness Israel.

Perhaps the most fascinating example is Phinehas stabbing the adulterating couple through with a spear to stop a plague! This act was counted unto him for righteousness even! Not only did it benefit him, it stopped yet another plague on Israel.

–OT intercession, whether by sacrifices, priests, people in general, etc were all types of Christ. Ultimately everything pointed forward to Him.

One would then assume that NT intercession (make intercession for all men) is not quite the same. Our intercession does not avail for sin. Burning candles, being baptized for the dead, or any other human work, does not bring righteousness to another.

Origin of “Hocus Pocus”

Just read from a biased source that “hocus pocus” was a mockery of the Latin mass that turned the bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ. I was skeptical of this origin, so looked it up.

“Many people today believe it originated in a corrupted form of the words of the consecration of the host in the old Latin mass: hoc est (enim) corpus (meum), “this is my body”, an idea first aired by John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1691 and 1694. But as this was part of an anti-Catholic sermon, it may be taken with a fair-sized pinch of salt.”

No one really know where it came from, but it was in use before this anti-Catholic sermon.

Wal-Mart, Farming and Sin

“If there were no sin in the world, would there be Wal-Mart?” I was asked.

Obviously, the snide answer is “Nope.” Wal-Mart is all sin all the time on many levels, no?

But seriously, what would life be like with no sin? Man still worked. Potentially, if human-life lasted long enough without sin, there could be stores and fair pricing. Or would we all be tilling the ground?

If there were no sin in the world would we have career paths beside farming? Would teenagers be asked incessantly, “So, what’s your plan for after high school?” Would we “follow our dreams” or resign to the dream of gardening?

I suppose there’s no way to answer these questions since life didn’t work out that way. But it makes a guy wonder when he can’t think of anything else to write about.

Practical Nature of the Spiritual Kingdom

One potential problem with saying that believers today are in the Spiritual Kingdom of God is that we keep it just that: spiritual.

The word “spiritual” causes our minds to go floaty. We see clouds and warm breezes. What we don’t see is that this Spiritual Kingdom has huge implications for the physical life of anyone in this Kingdom.

It’s a new way of living, it’s a new way of thinking, it’s a new country, a new world, a new king, well, all things have become new! We are as distinct as ancient Israel was distinct from the Gentiles. So distinct, anti-semitism became the rule for Gentiles.

This newness of life at work in the oldness of this world shines as a light in darkness. Here are its distinctives:

1) Put off the works of the old kingdom for anyone who persists in these is not in the Kingdom of God
1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:1-5

2) No arguing over physical things like food and drink, temporal things perish, don’t fight over them.
Romans 14:17

3) Demonstrated by power not slick political, mushy words of spin
1 Corinthians 4:20

4) There is no fellowship with darkness of any kind
Colossians 1:13

5) Requires a worthy walk consistent with all that is the Kingdom of God
1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5

6) Total reliance on the word for life, walk and perfection
2 Timothy 4:1-4

7) Deliverance from every evil work
2 Timothy 4:18

In short, there is no way a person can claim to be in the Kingdom and not have that reality prove itself by action. Citizens of heaven reflect heaven on earth. Citizens of the Kingdom of Light shine. Subjects of the King of Kings reflect the King of King’s glory.

He is a great King. We are fools for not serving Him when we so regularly serve idiocy.

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God,
be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

John Adams on Christian Sectarianism

“The multitude and diversity of them [Christian sects], you will say,
is our security against them all.”
–President John Adams

One benefit of diversity is the avoidance of rigid certainty, which often leads to power in the wrong hands and tyranny. Would Christianity be better off with a unified, one dominant denomination?

“for  there must be factions among you in order  that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”
–Apostle Paul

The Spiritual Kingdom of God

Seems to me there are two forms of the Kingdom of God:

1) Literal, on earth Kingdom of God where God reigns in a specific geographical area over a physical race of people.
2) Spiritual form of the Kingdom where all those who hold God as King dwell no matter what land they live in–My Kingdom is not of this earth, the Kingdom of God is within you.

That being the case, when did the Literal, on earth Kingdom of God end and the Spiritual Kingdom begin?

One would assume that in order to be in God’s Kingdom God would be your King. Israel, as God’s chosen nation, had God as King since God called Abram. But then it ended right around 1 Samuel 8:7 when God says to Samuel, “they have not rejected you,  but they have rejected me from being king over them.”

1 Samuel 12:12 God says that the people said “‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’  when the Lord your God was your king.” If God isn’t your King, you can’t be in His Kingdom!

Once King Saul took the throne the literal, on earth kingdom was at an end. Israel now became a type of the Kingdom of God rather than the true kingdom of God.

When Jesus arrived people called Him “Christ.” This word means “anointed one,” in other words, King! The first thing Samuel did to Saul in proclaiming him king was anoint him with oil. Every time we claim Jesus as Christ we claim Him as our King and are “translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son.”

If Christ is your King you are in the Kingdom of God. What are the implications if you claim someone else as your king? Not good.

Samuel, Tests and Preaching

Samuel is a young boy dedicated to temple service. He is awoken several times by the voice of the Lord (actually it says the Lord stood and spoke to Samuel) but Samuel “did not know the Lord” so he was mainly confused by the experience.

I remember the flannel graph Sunday School lesson on this, but do not recall what the application was for us. Probably something like, “so you better go to church.”

At this point in my life I see this initial experience as a necessary event in the greater life of Samuel the prophet. This was a test to prepare him for the rest.

Samuel was chosen above the priest’s sons to be spoken to. This was awkward enough, but then to have the first message he was charged with be, “Your master has creepy sons that are going to be killed” was even more difficult.

When the priest came and asked Samuel wat the Lord had said, Samuel told him all that the Lord communicated.

Wow. Imagine being a young boy telling your master and teacher that God was against him. That’s heavy stuff.

Believers are faced with tests like this. Are you willing to stand up for the Lord amidst awkwardness? Do you have the guts to deliver the message at those crucial times? Perhaps one reason for lack of effectiveness is because we fail these tests.

If we can’t handle the small, how will we handle the big? Is God’s Word true enough for us to risk our own security, relationships and comfort for? Time does indeed tell.

Sin is Fun; Faith Isn’t

Sin is fun. Fighting off sin is not nearly as much fun. Every sinner who has every fully enjoyed his sin has also been defeated and depressed by it.

The problem is that escaping sin is a battle, a putting to death and it hurts. Your flesh whines, suffers, and tempts you to fall back into the easy, quick pleasure it can offer.

On the other hand, continually fighting off sin has no pleasure, certainly not as intense and immediate a pleasure. Therefore, even though most sinners would love it if they immediately ceased desiring their sin, going through the ordeal is hardly worth it.

In order to combat this, Christians have tried to come up with spiritual pleasures that they believe offer immediate and intense enjoyment just like sin. The problem is that it’s a sham. The joy and peace the Spirit offers comes through the battle and being exhausted with self-effort. If a guy wants a quick fix of pleasure, sin is the answer every time.

It’s like youth groups that watch Christian movies to draw the kids in. Those kids, given the option, will watch the world’s films way sooner and will eventually end up there. The Church can’t win the entertainment battle. Yet we continue to try to win people that route.

The spiritual battle is a battle, a race to be run. Americans get tired of wars that don’t get done quick. Americans are fat slobs who wouldn’t be caught dead running. We don’t want fight and we don’t want run. We want magic wands.

Harry Potter over Pilgrim’s Progress any day.

Yet the Church keeps trying to be hip and cool and pleasure-laden to trick our flesh into quitting sin. It won’t work. In order to give up the pleasures of sin, suffering is the alternative.

Pleasure is after the finish line, after the peace treaty: Heaven. Is it worth it to you? Or do you faint away when the sun comes out (note the one who faints under the sun received the Word with JOY! Pleasure! But then hotness? Come on!)? Is the Promised Land worth 40 years of struggle, or would you rather go back to bondage in Egypt so you can eat better food?

“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God,
than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season

Fight, Flight and Making it to Heaven

We are created with what has been called the Fight or Flight Response. When I was walking through the woods, I saw a bear. My response was to run, remove myself as quickly as possible from the situation. Others meet a bear and think, “I can take him,” so they fight.

This terminology is interesting in light of spiritual challenge. When we see a verse challenging us to do something do we want to fight or flight? Jonah took flight; Jacob took to the fight.

Jonah was no Jacob and Jacob was no Jonah! These were two individuals with two completely different responses to God’s call.

When it comes to us NT believers, we are called to seek heaven, to put off the flesh and the world and be citizens of heaven. This is a challenge. Will we fight or flight?

Paul uses two illustrations to discuss this ordeal:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

Whether you’re a guy who runs or fights, Paul has the analogy for you! I tend to be a runner not a fighter, so I gravitate toward run the race set before you. I know some soldiers who would easily compare the Christian life to a fight.

Either way, it’s tough. I have no idea if this post makes sense! Just thought it was an interesting correlation between fight and flight and fight the fight and run the course.

The End

Planned Parenthood’s Prayer Campaign

Planned Parenthood has a new 40-days of prayer campaign to protect abortion. They recommend prayer topics for each of the forty days including:

Day 4: Today we give thanks for the doctors who provide quality abortion care, and pray that they may be kept safe.

Day 14: Today we pray for Christians everywhere to embrace the loving model of Jesus in the way he refused to shame women.

Day 18: Today we pray for all the staff at abortion clinics around the nation. May they be daily confirmed in the sacred care that they offer women.

Day 21: Today we pray for women in developing nations, that they may know the power of self-determination. May they have access to employment, education, birth control, and abortion.

Day 25: Today we pray for women who have been made afraid of their own power by their religion. May they learn to reject fear and live bravely.

Day 27: Today we give thanks for abortion providers around the nation whose concern for women is the driving force in their lives.

Day 38: Today we pray for a cloud of gentleness to surround every abortion facility. May everyone feel calm and loving.


The Righteous Mind and Religion

A book on morals must discuss religion, so The Righteous Mind does. Coming from an evolutionary psychology background, his look at religion is based on empirical evidence of studying religion. He does not believe that religion causes violence as the new batch of atheists (Dawkins, Harris, etc) do.

He views religion as a way for unrelated people to bind together to accomplish what could not be accomplished alone. It’s a way to enforce morals for the good of the group. Are atheistic societies dens of immorality? Not necessarily, but “they [atheistic societies] are the least efficient societies ever known at turning resources (of which they have a lot) into offspring (of which they have few).”

In other words, religious societies are efficient at using what they have to create kids. Religion is a utilitarian good.

However, religion also tends to blind people (bind and blind are his key words about religion). “Once any person, book or principle is declared sacred, then devotees can no longer question it or think clearly about it.”

Judging religions on external scientific studies would certainly lead to this belief, it should not be threatening to us.

I am blinded to evolution just as the evolutionist is blinded to the Creator (Romans 1:20-21). I think he’s an idiot and he thinks I’m an idiot (1 Corinthians 1:25-27).

Ultimately, the author proposes that we be moral pluralists, avoid those who think there is one set of morals for all people for all times. I would agree if he means one human-devised set of morals; I would disagree if God’s morals are chucked.

In the end, his stuff on religion is hooey. He misses the central notion of true religion and in so doing misses out on the true answer to societies problem.

The Righteous Mind and Church Growth

The book, The Righteous Mind, tells leaders three ways to get people to follow them:

1) Increase similarity; not diversity: make everyone feel like a family. People trust those more who look, dress and talk like them.

2) Exploit synchrony: do joint activities, singing, dancing, or exercise together. Make people feel like a team.

3) Create healthy competition among teams, not individuals. Intergroup competition strengthens groups.

Pastors, those who are fixated to a fault on leading, have tapped into this stuff for years in the modern church growth movement. In seminary a professor told us the best way to grow a church is to be ridiculously legalistic or charismatic.

Legalistic churches consist of people who all look, dress and talk the same, which fosters trust and a family atmosphere. Charismatic churches have everyone join in doing dance and clapping and singing and swaying to the music along with more corporate worship styles.

Perhaps the recent small group stuff taps into the intergroup competition? Small group members tend to be proud of their groups and talk them up whenever given the chance, showing a competitive side.

Although there is nothing inherently wrong in these things, they can be easily exploited by human leaders to their own power rather than following the Spirit and/or Christ, the true Head of the Church. These are indeed steps to develop human leadership.

Red China and Nazi Germany exploited these tactics on a national level to many people’s destruction. Does that make it all bad? Probably not, but human nature should not be trusted. It is a shame we chuck our biblical distinctive to follow evolutionary psychologist’s ideals for church growth.

Book Review: The Righteous Mind

I first heard of this book by reading an article about where Liberals, Conservatives and Libertarians fall on a scale of morals. The article was fascinating to me. I believe this is the article if you’re interested.

The book goes into detail about the author’s career in studying morality, developing this study and what we should do with this information. It is written from an evolutionary psychology perspective, which may trouble many and keep them from reading the book, which is too bad (chapter nine is the chapter to skip if evolution stuff bugs ya).

I have no problem chucking the evolution bits and ascribing the basis to God, and, in fact, makes it a more compelling book to see how God has wired us and how sin has corrupted us.

His basic point is that our reason and intuition are like a rider of an elephant. Our reason is the rider and our intuitions and emotional responses are the elephant. Reason can sway the elephant occasionally, but generally, the elephant is going where it wants. Here’s a brief paragraph to explain it further.

“Within the first half-second after hearing a statement, partisan brains are already reacting differently. These initial flashes of neural activity are the elephant, leaning slightly, which then causes their riders to reason differently, search for different kinds of evidence, and reach different conclusions. Intuitions come first,  strategic reasoning second.”

That being the case, it’s all but impossible to win an argument with someone even with the best reasoned arguments you can bring. People react emotionally, this shifts their reasoning and prevents them from seeing where you’re coming from at all.

Man, if that doesn’t describe living with Christians, I don’t know what does!

Christian buzz words: predestination, Calvin, repent, baptism, Israel, etc immediately shoot off emotional things in us, depending on what hills we care to die on (surprisingly many), and reason goes out the window, but comes back to support our emotional responses.

The last part of the book goes heavily into evolution and an analyzation of how evolution created religion. If you want to feel what it’s like to have your intuition start blitzing, read this section! He loses me in this section.

If you are interested in how the modern political situation got where it is, why liberals and conservatives hate each other and why so much hate in politics, this book will answer that question. If you are looking for a spiritual answer and a good treatment of religious morality, go elsewhere.

God’s Jury–Book Review

God’s Jury is a look at The Inquisition and how it was no anomaly, but rather a type of much of what we see in our world today.

The Inquisition was the Catholic Church’s attempt to squash heretics and took many forms over several hundred years.

Inquisition mentality is based on or results in moral certainty (we are right and the only ones who are right), institutional power (a force to perpetuate the movement), supervision (you must know what’s going on with all your subjects) and voluminous record keeping (a by-product of supervision.

Violators of the Inquisitor’s morality were tortured, and torture became a virtue to protect the truth. Torture often resulted in death and encouraged painful ways of dying to warn others to adhere to The Truth.

The author ties this in with Hitler’s Nazi movement, Russian governments, McCarthyism and also the recent Patriot Act and torturing of suspected terrorists. He makes a compelling case, one which I’m not sure I agree with fully, but compelling nonetheless.

His antidote for Inquisitions is, of all things, humility. Pride is what leads people to believe they possess the whole truth with no error to grant the certitude to kill those who disagree. Humility, remembering that we are fallible, keeps one from this mentality, a point I could not agree with more.

This was a fascinating book, one that will inspire thinking. I encourage you to read it.

The Lamb was Slain to Receive What Now?

The Gospel is not all about me. Christ was not thinking of me while on the cross. I don’t know if He would have died for me if I were the only person on earth and no one else knows that either. God did not give the Son because of His love for dear old me.

People want to put themselves at the center of the universe and we’d love a Gospel that bucked up our humanity by placing it front and center. But I’d like to show you a passage from Revelation talking about a band of angels speaking about Christ, the Lamb that was slain. Here’s what they say:

“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”

The Lamb was slain for a reason and with results. According to the angels, the Lamb was slain to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing.

Note they never mention awesome me. They didn’t even mention people in general.

In fact, according to these unfallen angels, Christ seems pretty self-centered with this whole thing. I thought His death was primarily for me, but it sure sounds like He did it for Himself! What an arrogant jerk of a messiah we have here!

Oh, that our Gospel were as big as God’s.

What Does Holiness Look Like

  • The mind is filled with the knowledge of God and fixed on what is good.
  • The eyes turn away from sensuality and shudder at the sight of evil.
  • The mouth tells the truth and refuses to gossip, slander, or speak what is coarse or obscene.
  • The spirit is earnest, steadfast, and gentle.
  • The soul rests and rejoices in Jesus.
  • The muscles toil and strive after Christlike virtue.
  • The heart is full of joy instead of hopelessness, patience instead of irritability, kindness instead of anger, and humility instead of pride, thankfulness instead of envy.
  • The sexual organs are pure, being reserved for the privacy of marriage between one man and one woman.
  • The feet move toward the lowly and away from senseless conflict, divisions, and wild parties.
  • The hands are quick to help those in need and ready to fold in prayer.

From Kevin DeYoung

Annoying Gospel Presentations: Christ Thought of You While He was on the Cross

“When Jesus died on the cross He was thinking of you.”

No He wasn’t.

But alas, Christians continue to spread this drivel. This phrase even has its own Facebook page and I’m not even sure what that means.

Jesus was thinking about many things on the cross. Based on what came out of His mouth, He didn’t seem to be thinking of me in particular.

Primarily He was concerned with His Father and fulfilling Scripture. He was concerned for His mother. He prayed for the people who crucified Him that they would be forgiven.

But me? Nope, didn’t mention me, nor you.

The Gospel is not about you despite our efforts to rewrite the truth. Christ died for the redemption of the world, He did not have every person of the world specifically on His mind while on the cross.

Probably by this point you think I’m just picking on things with my bad attitude, and you’d partly be right.

But I’ve been around this me-centered Gospel my whole life and it does no one any favors. We are not here to live our best life now. Christ did not die so I could be a much more awesome version of me. He died that I might die to self and rise up to newness of life–Christ’s life.

We are not here for us, we’re here for Christ. When we begin our Gospel talking about how worthy we are, quite frankly, we make the Gospel irrelevant.

Annoying Gospel Presentations: If You Were the Only Sinner. . .

Here is Gospel presentation pet peeve number two, it goes something like this and often follows on the heels of the John 3:16 name change scheme:

“Jesus would have died on the cross for you, if you were the only person in the world!”

OK. Let me take a breath. Here are my problems:

1) How do we know this?
This is an impossible hypothetical situation with no way to verify. I don’t know this. When Eve was the only sinner He didn’t die for her, rather he sentenced her to death!

2) How would the Romans have crucified Him if I were the only sinner?
I mean, just logically this makes no sense.

3) Even if it were true, it’s not what happened!
I can’t escape reality, no matter how ridiculous the hypothetical evangelistic scenarios become, the Gospel only happened one way. To rewrite it to make me the star, the center of it all, drastically shrinks the message of the completed word of God.

4) What about Israel’s Messiah?
This sort of dealing with the Gospel is frighteningly dismissive of all that happened and all that Christ is and was. Christ’s coming, death and resurrection were a fulfillment of promises and prophecies made to many people over thousands of years. Adam and Even, Abram, Moses, David, to name a few, all had expectations about Christ. The whole nation of Israel anticipated their Messiah and we have the nerve to make it all about me, one guy?

The Gospel is not about me or you; it’s about Christ.

“But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

Annoying Gospel Presentations: John 3:16

Easter Sunday I preached a sermon about the Gospel (click here to listen) and how big it is and yet how small most of us keep it. We are far more interested in our Gospel benefits than we are extending the Gospel’s benefits as far as God does.

We’ve made the Gospel small, me-sized rather than eternal-God-sized. The next few days I’d like to demonstrate how we mess up people’s understanding of the Gospel by the methods we use in sharing it. Here’s my first and biggest Gospel sharing pet peeve, it goes something like this:

Personalize the verse by putting your name in the following blanks:
“For God so loved ________ that He gave His one and only Son that (if) _____ believes in Him, _______ will not perish but ______ (will) have eternal life.” 

This tactic allows you to change the words of the Bible to make you feel super-duper special about yourself. This one troubles me for two main reasons:

Taking words out of the Bible and adding others is something the Bible very explicitly warns us not to do. There’s a reason why John 3:16 says what it says and I suggest we keep it that way regardless of what shot our self-esteem may take. Christ was sent for the world, not for Jeff. Yes, Jeff is included in the world, but God’s love is way bigger than me as the object.

2) If it’s true than I am the most important person, not Christ and certainly not you!
If God’s love for me is what caused Him to send Christ then I have more to do with the Gospel than Christ does: I’m the cause of it! Man, are you all lucky! You can get into heaven on my coattails and you should thank God every day He loved me that much to send Christ.

I hate this Gospel presentation. I find it highly blasphemous and disrespectful to the Word of God. Beyond that, it starts people off in the Christian life sincerely believing they are fine just how they are and they really are that special.

Instead, a person should start off in the Gospel seeing their lack and their need that Christ and Christ alone fulfills. The world is bigger than me and this ought to bring us to our knees in humility, repentance, faith and thanks.

Darwin’s Spiritual Side

“In my journal I wrote that whilst standing in midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body.”

–Charles Darwin

Wearing Crosses

“Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric has called on Christians to wear a cross every day as “a symbol of their beliefs” and to combat the marginalisation of religion in modern society.”

Here are my thoughts.

Catholics make more of objects than most other “Christians,” it was a major focus of Reformation movements, in fact. The cross has become the official symbol of Christianity and insinuates a belief.

Unfortunately, many who wear crosses live contrary to all the cross stands for. I doubt having more crosses around people’s necks will un-marginalize religion.

I do not wear crosses, never have and don’t plan on starting, that I know of. It’s an interesting issue.

What thinkest thou?

Christians and Sentimentality

Jesus shows a complete lack of sentimentality. Let me define the word so you know what I mean.

Sentimentality is the attachment of emotion to a thing apart from reason. In other words, there’s no real reason to be emotional about a thing, yet it evokes emotion. Like your pet cat. There’s no reason to feel love toward a cat. It’s a breathing sack of goo with fur that gets stuck up your nose.

When it comes to emotions, Jesus certainly shows some, but in every case there is a reason for His emotion. He is not sentimental the way humans are. Here are a few examples:

* Blessed is your mom for birthing such a special man: No, rather blessed are those who keep my Father’s word.

* Hey look at these impressive temple buildings: no, they’ll all get knocked down

* Your mom and brothers want to talk to you: No, my family is whoever listens to my Father

Human religion values sentiment, almost above everything else. The showing of emotion equates to spiritual health. If you don’t raise your hands, weep, laugh, cry, swing, swoon, bow, etc when they do you must be spiritually derelict.

Sentimentality is a valuation placed on a temporal thing. Jesus, One from heaven, was not impressed by temporal things, He was always mindful of eternal things. Jesus wept and His weeping had reasons that were rooted in redemption. He did not weep for toppled temples.

Being unsentimental is tough for us, makes us feel like jerks. I’m sure we’d pull it off awkwardly. But there are passages that tell us to leave off sentimentality. Here’s just one to prick us.

“But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

%d bloggers like this: