Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Idolatry, part 5: The Self

Jesus told us in Mark 12:29-31 that the two great commands are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That means of course we have to love ourselves. Some of us do that okay, but it’s not always easy to get it right — some not enough, and some too much! Either extreme — insisting on loving ourselves

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Comfort: Idolatry, Part 4

I’ve been reading through Isaiah’s prophecies in preparation for Advent, which starts in just a few weeks. One of his biggest gripes against his nation is about their idolatry, but not just carved figures (like in 40:19-20, 41:21-24, and 44:6-20, where Isaiah writes about God makes insulting comments about the stupidity of worshipping idols). We may have thought that the idol

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Moment You Realize...

From Kenneth Tanner on Facebook: 
The moment you realize that Jesus' incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension are not just about saving YOUR everlasting soul but about saving the one human nature shared by all who bear flesh, about renewing the good Creation.
The moment you realize that salvation is not only about entering eternal life when you die but a real-as-blood participation in the divine nature RIGHT NOW.
In other words, the moment you realize that the incarnation, embodied life, cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus are not just about YOU and not just about HEAVEN.
THAT is the moment you LEAVE BEHIND infancy in Jesus Christ and GIVE your life and future (which no longer matters, which no longer causes anxiety) to God's saving mission for the life of the world.
That is the moment you GROW UP, remove the focus on yourself and your eternal future, and take up the self-sacrificial love of Jesus that seeks not only the eternal glory of others but that ALL PERSONS might enter the DIVINE WAY of life and love all things as God loves all things HERE and NOW.
That is the moment you become an ACTOR in Christ the human's saving mission to make ALL THINGS NEW.
That is the moment you are no longer the exclusive center of God's saving words and actions but one who bears the cross with Jesus on behalf of OTHERS so that ALL MIGHT LIVE.
That is the moment you JOIN Christ's saving purpose to restore the created order, still subject to chaos and decay because of human and demonic rebellion.
That is the moment you cease worrying about your eternal destiny and FIND ETERNAL LIFE NOW by living a life that reveals heaven in the present moment.
This profound humility of God in Jesus Christ is not about YOU but about ALL PERSONS and is not merely about all persons but an offering that heals time, redeems nature, and brings all things once more into that unity that God—the Father, Son and Spirit—intended from before time, from before all worlds were framed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Idolatry, Part 3: Hubris

The Greeks who wrote their famous tragedies tended to put ‘hubris' as the cause of the main character’s downfall. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes it this way: “Typically, overconfidence led the hero to attempt to overstep the boundaries of

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Idolatry (Part 2): Self-Importance

In the first post, we looked at how idolatry is described to Israel as having something before God, and/or worshipping a created thing instead of the Creator. But if we remove the limitation of the focus on some ancient local deity, or an actual carved idol, we can see more clearly how this might still be an issue in our lives. And if

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Idolatry (Part 1)

Israel as a brand-new nation was given very clear direction by Yahweh about who was in charge: "You are not to have any other gods before me" and "You shall not make any images, and not bow down to them or serve them," found in Exodus 20:3-5. These give us much of our thinking about idolatry, and the problem wasn't unique to Israel of course; Paul talks about

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

"I Need Blocks"

A dear friend of mine told our pastors’ group recently about a shopping trip he and “Mimi” had with their granddaughter. As they went around the store, the little one found a bag of children’s blocks, grabbed it and put it in her little shopping cart. She said “I need blocks” rather emphatically. Her grandpa responded “let’s go ask Mimi,” as though that would change anything, and then