You’ve heard the phrase “not of this world?”
It’s a clever concept. The idea is simple, that we wouldn’t just float about, being swept up in the whims of culture and friendly persuasion, but would stand immoveable upon the bedrock of Christ.
I entirely agree that Christ should always serve as our compass, but I also would argue that that compass has changed shape over time, depending on our surrounding environs. Deuteronomy was written in the style of a Semitic covenant renewal. John borrows heavily from the gnostic tradition. Zoroastrianism helped open the gates to our understanding of Jesus and Satan as the champions of light and darkness, respectively. The revelations and manifestations of the most Holy God change and mutate depending on the setting in which the authors find themselves in, yet all of these experiences are ultimately submissive to Christ, who is the author and editor of our individual and collective faith journeys.
Lemme put it this way: if God were to come up to Adam and Eve and tell them about Tweeting, they would be utterly clueless, but instead He revealed Himself to them in a way they understood and that understanding continues to change over time as we as a corporate human race continues to change.
God is the God of past, present, and future. He is not confined to one cultural understanding of Him. He offers Himself to all people at all times through all ages and shall continue to do so until the return of His blessed Son, Jesus. He desires to be known and for none to be lost, going to any and every extent to fulfill those means, even coming in body, suffering and dying, and rising again so that He would experience everything we would experience and also rising above it into His blessed Kingdom.
Let us look with open hearts and minds and ears to how God wants to reveal to Himself to us today.
Nowhere else in the Bible as works-based as the book of James is. For him, it is by our works that our redemption is validated. And James is not alone in this. If you look at the Old Testament, we see a very external relationship with the spiritual experience. Atonement is shown by the sacrifice of livestock. Grieving is shown by the tearing of fabric. Deals are brokered by the passing of sandals (true story). James just picks up where the Old Testament left off, for the Bible is a very Hebrew-centric manuscript and reflects their cultural experience.
Where people get confused is they come to the conclusion that it is fact our works that saved us, that it is by a series of merit badges or brownie points that we are saved. This creates a sense of guilt for those who feel they have not done enough and a sense of pride in those who feel they have checked all the appropriate boxes. In the Gospels, Christ is quick to dispel both feelings. He goes to the outcast, even the criminal moments from death, and says, I am enough. To the self-righteous, He urges to drop the charade and come follow Him. We are not the authors of our salvation, even our own faith. All of it is a gift.
If it is a gift, then what is works? Works are the fruits of our salvation. Out of our love for Christ and for others, we do good works. Out of the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we venture out of our comfort zone to perform miracles. You can “like” and “love” as many posts as you want, but still there comes a time when we are called to show our love in a real sense, to give of ourselves either in time or treasure or ability, as a physical manifestation of our spoken claims.
Always be listening for these opportunities, for they are often small and pass quickly, but partaking in them makes a world of difference. So today, keep your eyes, heart, body, and soul open. You may just have the opportunity to change a life and let them know they truly matter and that your affections are real.
Bless and be a blessing. Amen.
So we all know Judas as the man who betrayed Jesus, but did you know he served as the treasurer for Jesus’ earthly ministry and sat in the seat of honor at the Last Supper? This was not an accident. Jesus loves His prodigals. He is constantly holding them near. Peter who denied Jesus three times was given the keys to the church of Jerusalem. Paul who outright persecuted the early church was chosen as the main witness to the Gentiles. Just when we think we are furthest from God, God is closest to us, calling us to come home.
I’ve seen it happen over and over again. A person becomes disenchanted with Christianity while still holding on with Christ. Not uncommon. Actually understandable. The breakdown occurs when we separate from the church body and then have to create our own way of maintaining our spirituality apart from it. Many times this leads to new pseudo-churches, even new denominations. It leads to division and this is unfortunate.
We must hold together to remain stronger. We must work out our differences. We cannot do this thing alone. Yes, by no means approach the Word blindly. Yes, admit and explore where you come into conflict with the norm. These are healthy and good things to do. But stay connected. A person can wander into the desert and live, even gain a following, but can they thrive? Do they have the resources to empower others to do so as well?
Good questions to ponder. We must always strive for connection, seeking paths that connect us to each other and to God. When we are planted, we grow. Even if the community is alternative, that is fine and good. Just find community and thrive.
You walk in while I’m in the midst of yoga
“Sorry to interrupt”
but you have nothing to be sorry for
that’s what love is:
an interruption of the self
and expansion of the mind,
my world shaken like a mixed drink
Interrupt me again and always
my ways, my days
because I love you dearly
Who is the least of these?
We all are. We can be poor of spirit
and poor of money
and beat down and cast out and left alone.
Reach out to your brothers your sisters
your fathers your mothers your uncles
aunts cousins across the world
and across the street
listen to one another
be there and support
“listen listen love love”
for God is good
and we are ALL His children!
As I lay dying on the hospital bed
my own blood turned poison,
Christ came and gave me a transfusion
giving all of Himself
so that I would be purged of death
and brought into new life