Is the God of the New Testament really that different from the God of the Old? This is the claim of many people today. The central idea that was made in the previous post was the fact that, when we read a little more carefully, we see that, in the whole Bible, God is a God of grace. The story of God’s relationship with the Israeli people highlights over and over the central reality of his grace and mercy as the one and only reason for all that they had. This is coupled with the fact that the main command of the Old Testament is not that people obey a long list of moralistic laws and rituals. Rather the heart of God’s message to the people is that he be the central object of their love and affection. Making anything outside of him the object of their worship inevitably sends them tumbling down a destructive life of self centeredness.
The question of pain and suffering has been on my mind lately. It is a hard question. One that seems to push any worldview and philosophy beyond its boundaries. Anywhere we look to find a satisfactory answer, we find that the issue in question looms larger than our own powers of comprehension. Sure, some may have purely intellectual ways of answering the question, but they aren’t answers that satisfy the longing of the soul. They are answers “from the view of the balcony” and are not likely to satisfy the questions of the weary travelers on the road.
We live in a world where personal happiness and well being are at the center of life. The church has unfortunately caught on to this idea as well. Very often, we are given the impression that life with Christ is supposed to answer all our questions and untangle all our knots. We are told that if there are problems and challenges in our lives its a sign that we are not spiritual enough, not working hard enough, not doing good enough.
But when Jesus called his disciples to follow him he did not invite them into a journey of smooth sailing and wide and easy travels through life. He called them to take up their cross, to deny themselves, and to follow him being ready to face anything. That is because the kingdom that he calls us to be a part of is not of this world. The hope that Christ gives spans far beyond our mere physical, psychological or material well being. Continue reading
This past month, C.S. Lewis’ essay, The Weight of Glory has been lingering in my mind. Perhaps this has been potentiated by the fact that we are studying Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with the church, in which there is a great deal of overlap on this intriguing idea of the christian and glory.
Lewis establishes that we all seek glory. We all seek fulfillment. It seems that we are created with a yearning in our souls for a greatness that is out of this world. Various cultures and people groups substitute this with a variety of fillers, but these only prove the point of its reality. It is utterly inhuman to desire to be unglorified – degraded, stomped in the dust, unaccomplished, worthless. Nobody lives that way.
One of the most powerful lessons of 2014 for me has to do with growing in my understanding of what it really means to love others.
When one looks at the biblical narrative, its quite amazing to see how God accomplishes change in the lives of those he desires to reach. He is not what we expect him to be. He does not merely snap his fingers, and presto! All that God does in his work with this fallen world, he does within the framework of a relationship; a process of reaching out and personally touching the hearts of those he seeks to change.