Archive for August, 2018
“For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the end of the earth’” (Acts 13:47).
When Jesus commissioned his disciples to be witnesses into the remotest parts of the earth, they had no idea how much of the world was yet unmapped. The same was true of Paul and Barnabas when they spoke these words. While the world is vast, uncharted territory is not. In both pursuing it and sharing it, the life of faith takes us to places we would have never imagined upon that initial step. Living on mission is never a question of near or far, but right now…wherever you are.
“Now for this reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless or unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
If Jesus Christ is the “Why” of our faith, “Why” we do what we do, the motivation and driving force for the life we live and pursue, values, then, become the “How” of portraying a true knowledge of the resurrected Christ. These values become the standard by which we measure all of our choices and actions: Will this move me closer to or farther from the One I’m seeking to honor?
“Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity’” (Job 2:9-10).
As long as life is hitting on all cylinders, the masses will praise the goodness of God. The strange irony, however, is when adversity strikes, all praise ceases. Not only this, but there has arisen on many fronts within the American church a prevalent self-absorbed whininess that interprets any hardship as God somehow being absent. The omnipresence of God is a theological assumption, regardless of my life circumstances or yours.
“May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Psalm 137:6).
Memory is both a curse and a blessing. While memories can be painful (v.1), they are also cathartic and prepare us to move on to a future beyond our present exile of grief and lamenting. Cherished memories are a reminder of what God has undeniably done in the past, providing the certain hope that his purposes will be accomplished again in the future.
“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land” (Psalm 137:4)?
It’s a fair question because, as with the Psalmist, life eventually takes us through an exile experience of such degree that it’s as if all the music and melody of life has died. Both life and music, when fully pursued, eventually gives way from the simple and rhythmic to the complex and multifaceted. The key is to keep singing, even when you don’t feel like it, knowing that each experience adds a new stanza to the song God is composing.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).
From the teachings of the Old Testament to the life exemplified by Jesus, we discover that the life of faith, when rightly understood and practiced, is an affront to those who perpetuate injustice, who sit in power, who build their wealth and kingdoms on the backs of those who are defenseless, who have no leverage and no voice. Faith is to confront the up and in with the issues facing the down and out.
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Hide and Seek was one of my favorite childhood games, but I never liked being “it.” To be “it” meant having to go find everyone that was hiding. It was a laborious task because of the unlimited number of possible hiding places. In contrast, God’s omniscience gives him the knowledge of all our hiding places, and he delights in searching us out and finding us.