Encouragement From The Word

The wildest thing in the world

Last week, my wife forwarded a tweet to me that really resonated.  It was written by a writer and speaker named Kaitlyn Schiess.  She wrote:

A few days ago someone who is not a Christian said to me,

“If Jesus Christ really was raised from the dead, that is the wildest thing in the world
and I don’t know how you’d ever be able to get over that.”

She’s right, and I cannot stop thinking about how clearly she saw it.

Do you ever wonder what your friends who do not follow Jesus think about the claims he made, or the claims we make on his behalf?  In many cases, we simply view them as facts we have held dear for a long time, but in our holding dear, do you suppose we sometimes take these claims for granted?

The resurrection of Jesus – if it is true, as we believe it to be – is the most amazing thing ever!  It’s more amazing than flying to the moon, more amazing than a seaside sunset, more amazing than tiger tail ice cream (okay, that last one is a personal bias).  It is the most remarkable phenomenon that has ever occurred.  Ever.

It’s so remarkable that it affected time itself:  the world measures time based on the person of Jesus.  (A.D., after all, stands for anno domini – the year of our Lord – and even though many people choose to use C.E. nowadays, standing for ‘common era’, it still hearkens back to the fact that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection affected how we tell time.)

We are invited to live as a people of the resurrection, this world-altering phenomenon that so many of us simply take for granted.  It really is, as the writer’s friend said, “the wildest thing in the world.”

Yet many followers of Jesus seem to live as if they have gotten over it.  That’s a mistake.

We should live as the beneficiaries of the resurrection:  we are invited, not only to look forward to the eternal life that it bought us, but to live out the life and joy it brings us today.

When your friends look at you, do they see the joy of the victory of resurrection life in you?

Let’s live out the truth of what Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11.25-26a, NLT). 

Encouragement From The Word

Choose life.

Earlier this week, we received the horrific news of a school shooting in Texas.  The school was for 7- to 10-year-olds.  Nineteen children and two adults were killed, and many others were wounded.  This was the 27th school shooting in the United States this year.

The shooter was just 18 years old.

He is also suspected of killing his grandmother before the rampage began.

To be sure, the young man must have been deeply, deeply troubled.

Many people think that guns are to blame for such events.  And while American culture is fond of its second amendment right to bear arms, rarely are these tragedies caused by law-abiding, legal firearms owners.

The problem is that our society has been taught not to value human life.

Of course, the deeper problem is that of innate human sinfulness, something that society at large, and sometimes even the church, fails to acknowledge and deal with.

But the lack of respect for human life is the main symptom of sinfulness that rears its ugly head in situations like this, and countless others – and they don’t all involve weapons.

Parents, school curricula, even churches fail to stand up for the innate value that each human being, from conception, has in the eyes of God – and should, therefore, have in our own eyes.

But between an emphasis on rights over responsibilities, and profits over people, western society continues to collapse before us.  (Honestly, the rest of the world is not much better off in that regard; the war in Ukraine is a good example.)

Please join me in praying for the grieving families of the deceased in the Texas shooting, and for parents, teachers, educational bureaucrats, and churches, that we will see how important it is choose life when there is so much violence going around.  Maybe if we can get people to think more properly about life, we can get people to act respectfully toward life.

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life” (Deuteronomy 30.19-20a, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Valuing life

When I’m scrolling through my social media feeds, it takes something significant for me to “stop the scroll”.  Reading a post a couple of weeks ago by an acquaintance, whom I met while on a mission trip to India several years ago, made me stop.

As you may know, India is having severe challenges with the virulent spread of the Coronavirus.  Thousands of people each day are dying.

He said that the problem wasn’t that India didn’t have the resources to stop the spread of COVID-19; the problem is that there is a lack of value for human life.

Now, that’s just one man’s opinion, but this is his nation and his culture he’s talking about.  He understands it far better than I ever could.  And this is a sad assessment indeed.

I fear it is not limited to India, nor to the issue of the pandemic.

It’s a deep pond we’d be wading into, filled with quicksand, were we to begin the journey; this is not the forum for such conversation.  But you know the issues as well as I do:  once-civilized societies are demonstrating a lack of value for human life, whether at its beginning, its end, or its middle.

How do we turn that around?

One simple step is for all of us – starting with followers of Jesus, but spreading to all of society – to treat every other person as Jesus would treat him or her.    This doesn’t mean agreeing on everything; it doesn’t mean approving of everything; what it does mean is that each person has value because each person is made in God’s image.

Not every cultural or religious tradition grasps this, but as Christians, we do.

Let’s set the example.

So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them” (Genesis 1.27, NLT).

Biblical Messages

The Way

In John 14.1-14, Jesus seeks to encourage his disciples about his impending departure.  He tells them that they know where he is going, but they claim not to know the way.  Jesus tells them that he is the way!  He also tells them that they are capable of undertaking miraculous signs just like he did.  So what can we learn from this?  The message begins at 28:18.

 

Biblical Messages

FLYING SOLA: Solo Christo

Holding a position that says Jesus is the only way to God is not a popular view in our world today, but it is the view that is held by Scripture.  That flying sola headermeans Christians are expected to grapple with it seriously.  It also was a hallmark doctrine of the Reformation, that Jesus is the only mediator between God and humanity.  We see this illustrated in many places in the New Testament, not least of which is John 14.1-7.  You can listen to the message by clicking here.  I apologize if I sound in a hurry; I preached this message at the beginning of the service, so that I could travel to Fraser Church, Tottenham, to baptize the infant daughter of my colleague there.  A busy day, but a blessed day indeed.