Tuesday, October 06, 2015
“For to me to live is Christ…” Phil. 1:21
What constitutes the center of a Christian life well lived?
Is the center accumulated Biblical knowledge?
Is the center disciplined Chrisitan thinking about life?
Is the center cultivated Christian discipline?
Is the center obeying Christian principles that match the design of the universe?
Is the center passion for social justice in the world?
Is the center a retreat from the outer world?
Is the center death to self?
Is the center action for the cause of Jesus?
Is the center the church I attend?
The center of the Christian life is a living Person.
The center of a Christian life well lived is continuous cooperation with Christ who is the Christian life within every believer. The center of a Christian life well lived is Christ in us. He is the source and hope of all Christian living.
As disciples we lose our way when anything or anyone else except Christ is our center. We lose our way, the circumference of our love shrinks and God’s glory is not seen when Christ is not our life.
The Christian life well lived is living Jesus well.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
We live in a time when many people prefer not to take things to a universal conclusion. People prefer to preach tolerance of all conclusions in the hope that tolerance will become the universal conclusion. Their hope is we will all finally get along when all conclusions are equally valid.
Even though tolerance has become one of the few cherished virtues left in western cultures, tolerance cannot save humanity from reality. Reality comes to conclusions and so must we.
If there is a hope for all of humanity it will take finding the right conclusion about reality. Tolerance should be a part of this human search, but tolerance cannot be the goal of this search. Reality must be taken seriously by all. Reality has the final word.
Jesus clearly said that He is the revelation of all the reality that saves humanity. He said he was, is and always will be truth spoken in love for humanity. He claimed to be the final word.
Jesus declared Himself to be the universal conclusion. Jesus as the universal conclusion is what historic Christianity has always affirmed. Jesus as the universal reality is what Christians have tried to live.
It is arriving at Jesus as our conclusion which has allowed Christians to be tolerant of others who still search for the conclusion. Christians risk their lives in many cultures calling people to come to a universal conclusion about Jesus because some cultures allow no search for conclusions beyond what they affirm. The most tolerant cultures on earth have developed out of Christian conclusions about Jesus.
Jesus gave people time and space to come to Him as the conclusion. He still does through his disciples.
The logical conclusion about Jesus is he either was or was not all he claimed to be. Christians believe Jesus is the loving conclusion concerning everything. Not everyone believes He is. Some violently affirm He is not.
Jesus never asked that people would tolerate Him. Reality is not to be simply tolerated. Jesus clearly called people to come to a believing conclusion about Him. By what He said and by what He did He continues to allow humanity to come to a conclusion about Him and then live Him as that conclusion.
Where Christians live Jesus as the loving universal conclusion, tolerance will be present. Where tolerance is made the universal conclusion expect to see people become intolerant of those who insist that conclusions do matter.
Jesus remains humanity’s best hope for a satisfying conclusion to reality and the best hope for tolerance among the searchers.
Friday, August 21, 2015
A relationship with Jesus, the true Vine, is deep.
In the beginning the branch receives from the Vine without knowing the true depth of the Vine's capacity to give of its wealth. As the branch receives and releases all that comes freely from the Vine a knowledge of the Vine's depth begins to grow. The branch dives into this depth more and more. No matter how much the branch draws from Jesus there is always more. What a discovery!
A relationship with Jesus, the true Vine, is light.
Receiving repeatedly from the depths of generosity found in Jesus the branch discovers a great mystery. The deeper the branch dives into Jesus' depths the lighter becomes the task of simply being a branch. Deeper in Jesus means a lightness in being me! Being a simple, Jesus supported branch makes me the person I enjoy being.
What a relief!
A relationship with Jesus, the true Vine, is generous.
Finally from depth and lightness in Jesus comes a growing generosity. Releasing love threatens the branch no more. What threatens the branch is to not release generously. How can I not love when I have leaned into the depths of Jesus and found Him making my life so much lighter? What an opportunity!
I dive into the depths of Jesus’ love. I am lifted to a life of less weight. I am inspired to lovingly and generously give. Jesus, the true Vine, promised abundant life and He is that life abiding in me.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
The list of personal orientations seems to be expanding exponentially.
My political orientation is….
My sexual orientation is…
My religious orientation is….
My gender orientation is….
My life orientation is…
My environmental orientation is…
My moral oriention is….
My financial orientation is…
As the list of possible human orientations grows, respect for each person’s orientations has now become one of society’s most passionately defended values. Intolerance of other’s orientations is fast becoming society’s new scarlet letter. Instead of an “A” for adultery, we may soon see a big public “O” put on people for failing to repect orientations.
The idea that each person should be allowed to freely live their orientations has suddenly become the test of whether a society is progressive and free. Failure to respect another person’s orientation has now become the new universal sin in many parts of the world.
Where such a concept of progressive orientational freedom will lead a culture will not take long to come to maturity. Freedom of orientation is on a roll and won’t take long to reveal its wisdom or lack thereof. Most orientations have a shelf life of no longer than the human will and then they end. It would really help if the government put validity dates on our orientations to help us choose!
The idea of giving people freedom of orientation is not new to humanity. The Bible opens with the story of two humans and two trees (orientations) in a garden. God told them they could choose their orientation but not control the orientational consequences and validity dates.
Apparently freedom of orientation is at its root a Divine idea. One might say God created freedom of orientation and He still gives people up to their chosen orientations.
What God did not create was freedom from consequence. Not all orientations work out well. Even the most ardent of orientation defenders choke on some orientations!
Following Jesus is an orientation. So much so, that the true goal of discipleship is to take people to Jesus and leave them there until Jesus becomes their complete orientation.
Jesus is God’s chosen human orientation. Because He is God’s choice for humans, Jesus has no expiration date. No matter how progressive and free we may appear, seems like we just can’t get away from the two trees of life and death.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “ Jesus (John 10:10)
Thursday, July 23, 2015
There is a time and place for crutches in our lives. When we have been injured and we need support to begin on the path to recovery there is no shame in using crutches. Crutches may fit the moment but In most cases they are to be temporary not permanent.
Some people get so used to some kind of daily support that it takes a good friend who comes along and takes away the crutches. With a word or a action the friend sends a clear message that it is time to walk without the crutches. Good friends don’t let crutches become permanent when they do not need to be.
Jesus called us His friends. As our friend Jesus will come to us and take away our crutches when the time is right. He can see that we have become too dependent on the support and sympathy we receive from an injury we have experienced. Sometimes we have stopped moving toward full recovery because we like the attention we get from our pain.
Professional beggars are seen sitting on the same street corners day after day asking for support. At the end of the day some of them quietly stand up and make their way to their car which is parked a few blocks away. They have made their weakness permanent so they can always keep the support of others. How sad for them! They truly need an honest friend to come and take away their crutches.
As hard as it may be to perceive, we all have a tendency to elicit sympathy and support from our past injuries and the injustices we have suffered. We often spend our time on our own street corners wanting people to notice our pain and pay attention to us.
Our good friend Jesus will not let us do this forever. Sooner or later He will come and take away our crutches. He loves us too much to leave us on our crutches when He knows we can walk with Him.
Real friends know when crutches need to go or stay. Ask Jesus if it is time for you to walk with Him without the attention or sympathy of others.
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another. John15:15-17
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
How far away from here is the kingdom of heaven or the Kingdom of God? Is it far away? Is it so far away it is unknown to us?
Perhaps three other questions can help us move toward an answer.
Do you have someone you deeply love who has passed away and you believe they are in heaven? Do you feel they are far away from you as you think of them in heaven? Has the distance to heaven closed for you since they are there?
Distances change when you know someone who is alive in another place. It seems they cannot be too far away if you can still sense they are there, they are fine and you, too, could someday go there.
Jesus taught us to pray about the Kingdom as if it could come here. He makes it sound like the question is not one of geography or distance but one of behavior and cooperation with God.
Read again the Lord’s prayer and notice the idea of there and here. See if the distance between there and here closes in this prayer.
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.
The key to understanding much of Jesus’ teaching is to remember He came from the Kingdom of God where the will of God is always done. In a very real sense, because of His obedience to the Father while here, He is the Kingdom coming from there to here. He is the answer to the prayer “You Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
Jesus obeying His Father here as He always had obeyed Him there brought the Kingdom close and closed the distance forever for those who believe.
In a very real sense Jesus is the Way from “There” to “Here” and back again.
“For I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, except through me.” John 14:6
Jesus with us means the distance has closed between “here” and “there” forever. The more we cooperate with Jesus, the closer the Kingdom comes to here.
Every obedient Christian is the Kingdom coming here.