Thursday, March 29, 2012

God is Love

Four times in the New Testament the expression “This is a faithful saying" is utilized as an introduction to underscore the trustworthy nature of the ensuing statement. The first time we encounter this is in regard to Christ’s singular purpose in coming to earth. Timothy 1:15 tells us: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”. (Note: Paul was identifying himself with the phrase “of whom I am chief”, but I have no doubt that any and all of us would certainly admit we also fit the bill!). This would seem to be the most important truth that has ever reached the human ear or been entrusted by the human heart of man; that Jesus Christ, son of God, became incarnate, lived a sinless life, suffered, died, was buried, but rose again, and by His grace saves mankind from their sins.

This is the great picture, the wondrous manifestation, of God’s love in composite form. In the fourth chapter of his first letter, John emphatically declares “God is love”, not just once, but twice! For centuries, theologians have wrestled with precisely how this attribute of the divine nature is revealed in our mortal realm. Unfortunately, we often develop misperceptions regarding God’s love, tending to distort it according to our human situation. We often equate our individual well-being, whether it is wealth or a good doctor’s report, as an indication of God’s love. But the true, objective demonstration of God’s love was exhibited through Jesus Christ’s willingness to descend from the throne of deity to the depths of this world’s depravity, from heavens adoration to earth’s abomination, from heavens glory to earth’s gory. God’s love was abundantly revealed not through mere words, but through deliberate and selfless action. As one songwriter put it:

What condescension, bringing us salvation
That in the dead of night
Not one faint hope in sight
God, glorious and tender, laid aside His splendor
Stooping to woe, to win, my soul.

“God is love”, three words packed with theological ramifications. But the economy of God’s love can be distilled down to this basic formula: We are all sinners. We need a savior. Jesus Christ embodied God’s love in action, and became that Savior. It’s that simple.

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sacred Vocations

As Moses marveled incredulously at the burning bush in the wilderness, God spoke to him. Imagine, Moses actually heard the voice of the omnipotent, omniscient, all sovereign God Himself, and quite understandably, the prophet would never be the same. God had spoken and Moses would obey.

It is not difficult, based on this and other similar stories from the Bible of God’s direct interactions with specific individuals, to derive the notion that God is only concerned with the pursuits of those who are engaged in full-time service (i.e. preachers and missionaries), and that He doesn’t waste His time on the more mundane activities of your “average, everyday Christian”. But nothing could be further from the truth. God is interested in each and every one of us. We are, after all, made in His image, and He does intend for each of us to have a purpose in life to fulfill to His glory, whether it be as a preacher or as a farmer.

On that note, I’ve heard the story of a farmer who left it all one day to go to seminary and become a minister. Shortly after he began his studies, he realized it was going to be a real struggle. Grades down and growing discouraged, he went to see the Dean. The Dean asked him what had motivated him to decide to leave farming and become a minister. He responded “I was in the field one day and had a vision. Two clouds in the sky had formed the initials P.C. I took it as a sign that God was telling me to “preach Christ”, so off to school I went”. The Dean told him that being a farmer was just as important as being a preacher. He then said “Did you ever think that perhaps the initials in the sky meant “plow corn”?

We were designed to work (see Genesis 2:15 if you doubt this!), to take dominion over all areas of the life we have been given, and commanded to be good and faithful stewards. Directly in keeping with this mandate, what we do for a livelihood should be done in earnest. These words from the essay “Why Work?” by Dorothy Sayers seem most appropriate:

"I ask that [work] should be looked upon—not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That it should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing."

Regardless of our life’s vocation, every Christian should be of the mind that all ground is sacred ground. Whether a doctor, a lawyer, and yes, a farmer or a preacher, all these when performed with the proper motivation, are sacred to God.

See ya Sunday!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I recently read of a woman at home doing some spring cleaning when the telephone rang. In going to answer it she tripped on a scatter rug and grasping for something to hold onto seized the telephone table. It fell over with a crash, knocking the receiver off the hook. As it fell it hit the family dog, who leaped up howling and barking. The women’s three year old son, startled by the noise, broke out into loud screams. The woman mumbled some words. She finally managed to pick up the receiver and lift it to her ear just in time to hear her husband’s voice on the other end say, “Nobody said hello yet but I’m positive I have the right number.”

Spring is right around the corner. It's time to clean out the dirt, dust and debris and thank the Lord the winter is past.

Farmers will soon be planting and breaking up the fallow ground in hopes of a good harvest in the fall. Spiritually speaking, we all need to clean up different things in our lives. Over time we allow things to go unchecked. As the old time preachers would say “an unguarded heart is a double weakness.”

It could possibly be a habit that needs to be escorted out of our lives. Possibly a relationship we have allowed to go sour. A debt we need to pay to God or perhaps a rekindling of our love for God. It is time to open up the windows of our hearts and clean up what has been idle. We do not enjoy living in a dirty house. The reality TV program “Hoarders” shocks us when we see people holding onto junk that clutters and accumulates, leaving no place to live. Spiritually we have to remove that which hinders and hurts us.

The Bible says,” Little foxes spoil the vine”. Let’s remove that which hinders us and hurts us. There is nothing like the freshness of spring!

See ya Sunday!