Who Rules the Universe?

I had such a great time leading this discussion on Revelation Chapter 5 last Thursday! It’s all about the meekness and trustworthiness of the God who rules and judges the world. I think it can really give some perspective on the disruptive crises that face our nation and the globe… Take a listen!

“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals…

And… I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…”

 

Why Good Friday is My Favorite

 

     I’ve often heard preachers assert that Easter is more important than Good Friday. “There’s no point to the Cross if there is no Resurrection,” they say. And while I love to celebrate Christ’s triumphant victory (I think we far too often live with a defeatist mindset in the Church), I’d like to suggest that Good Friday is actually the highest and holiest of feast days. It may seem totally backwards and offensive to our clouded minds, but the brutal death of Jesus on the Cross is where God’s glory is most powerfully put on display for all to see.

Christ and Him Crucified

     St. Paul is famous for saying, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Why was Paul so obsessed with the Cruciform God? Because Paul saw that the cruciformity of God’s nature is the FULLNESS of God’s nature. The Crucifixion is where God opened up His heart and showed us all that is inside. This where we get our purest definition of Who God eternally is and what He is eternally like. Herein lies the most outstanding of beauties!

     At the Cross, we see that being King of Kings looks like being the Servant of All.

     At the Cross, we see that being Omnipotent looks like being laid down and broken in selfless love.

     At the Cross we see that true strength looks like power under restraint, poured out in sacrifice.

     At the Cross we hear God Himself saying, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

     Here we learn that the Lord’s desire to offer mercy, to have relationship with us, to practice vulnerability, and to embody a genuinely unconditional love is not just part of His agenda. It is His agenda. All other character traits we might attribute to Him must be re-defined in light of this mind-blowing moment of clarity.

The Way God Operates

“His defeat is itself His breakthrough.”

     Jesus hanging on the Tree is the Logos — the logic of God. He may look defeated, but His defeat is itself His breakthrough. In shedding His blood and releasing His last breath, Jesus finished the work that needed to be done, once and for all (see John 17:4, John 19:30, Romans 6:10, and Hebrews 10:10). We might even go so far as to consider the idea that Resurrection is only the fruit and the affirmation of Christ overcoming the “wisdom of this world” on Calvary. His atoning sacrifice is where He carried out His own Sermon-on-the-Mount philosophy for life to its fullest extent.

     What a success!

     Our hearts are not won to the Lord because He has coerced us into worshiping Him. We are won by the bleeding heart of the Lord that loves us to no end. Likewise, we in turn extend His grace to others not by pressuring them, convincing them with arguments, or giving them threats of retribution.

     We choose the low road. This is the Way of the Cross.

Isaiah 55…

return to the Lord…for he will abundantly pardon.
‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are My ways higher than your ways
    and My thoughts than your thoughts…'”

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Audio: Brian Zahnd on OT Violence

Have you ever wondered why parts of the Bible command grotesque injustice in the name of God? Lately this has been a question I haven’t been able to ignore as much as I could in the past.

I’ve wanted to trust the Scripture’s authority, but also reject any image of the Divine that does not match what I find in the character of Christ as revealed in His meekness on the Cross. And many of the very dark passages I’ve been reading in the Old Testament lately just didn’t seem easy to explain.

I came across this sermon preached by Brian Zahnd, a dude who often has fresh insights on the goodness of God. I feel like he pretty artfully laid out this problem with Scripture and provided a Christo-centric response to it. It’s a very thought provoking talk.

Take a listen and see if you can agree with Brian’s conclusion that Jesus alone is the only “inerrant, infallible Word of God” . . . .

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Salvation from… God?

I don’t know who originally created this meme, but I saw it on Facebook a while back and had to screen shot a picture of it:

This is laughable, but the maker of this image has a really good point. 

Most of what I’ve known as the Gospel my whole life was a message of love, forgiveness, and mercy… set against the backdrop of a God who gave violent retribution to those who refused to accept His salvation plan. It wasn’t always clearly stated, but there was this underlying idea communicated that Jesus came to save us from God ultimately. If you took your theology studies deep enough, you’d see this very dark message hidden in the details.

Fortunately, I’ve come to be convinced that salvation really is a gift from a perpetually good God who has NEVER been set against us. It was we who were opposed to him, not the other way around. Memes like this though provide good commentary on the way we have utterly perverted and miscommunicated the Good News we have been entrusted with.

I’m not going to go into a deep theological discussion in this post, but I wanted to post it as simple food for thought. We should ask ourselves, “Does our understanding of the Gospel ever make God look like the bad guy unnecessarily?” If so, we shouldn’t be surprised when masses of millenials are rejecting it.

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