Theology


Jesus and His Stories

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells a series of parables and after the first one his disciples interrupts Him asking why he tells these stories. Jesus’ answer gives us a view into his audience minds and expectations.

From verse 11 we read

He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

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Somehow the majority of Jesus’ audience spiritual eyes where blinded, even the righteous ones. When Jesus spoke plain words they did not understand the plain meaning of it. Why this spiritual blindness? I think if we investigate who these people were and what their expectations of the Kingdom of God were we might get an idea why they heard but did not understand. These people were Jews and the Jews expected the Kingdom of God to come by certain means and liberate them, the Jews, from the yoke of the Roman empire. Some of them expected the Kingdom to come by force (the Zealots), others expected it would come by political means (the Sadducees) and then there were those who expected God would liberate them if they got their act together and acted according to the Mosaic law (the Pharisees). Besides all of their different views all of them expected the Messiah to come with much fanfare and kingly splendor. So for them to hear that the Messiah came from a lowly town, born out of wedlock and He then speaking of walking the extra mile, turning the other cheek, paying taxes to the Romans, mixing with the low life of the time… Jesus and the Kingdom he spoke of was not what they expected. I’m convinced that these expectations they had clouded their understanding so that they could not comprehend what Jesus spoke of. Consequently Jesus told stories that brought them images of what the Kingdom of God is really like. Images have a powerful way of circumventing our expectations and opening the mind to other possibilities.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells a series of parables that He begins with “the kingdom of heaven is like…”. So the focus of these parables is to explain the nature of the kingdom of heaven or as noted in other passages the kingdom of God. The parable of the mustard seed is recorded in three gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke and in all three it is covered by only one sentence. It seems that in the Gospels Jesus had this ability to communicate something profound in very few words and this parable is one such example.

Matthew 13:31
31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

Mark 4:30-32
30 Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”

Luke 13:18-19
18 Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”

A Few Things About Mustard and Birds

The Mustard seed, like the parable says, is a relatively small seed. The mustard plant is a shrub that grows easily and spreads fast and it can take over a garden in a short period of time just like weeds. In Jewish culture a well kept garden was desirable and allowing mustard to grow in your garden was prohibited by Jewish law in fact it was considered a weed. The mustard shrub could grow to the size of a small tree but is bushy and not what we would call aesthetically nice to look at.

Just a few verses before Jesus was talking about birds of the air and using that image to describe unwanted influences. Birds of the air would most likely have been viewed as a nuisance by an agricultural society like the Jews of the time. Birds would be something you would want to keep away from your fields and gardens. The use of straw men keeping the unwanted away comes to mind.

Why Mustard and Birds?

Jesus was provocative in using these images to describe the nature of the Kingdom. He could have used the image of a lofty cedar tree (which also has a small seed) and of eagles that nest there. Why did Jesus use the images of a weed and birds that made nuisances of themselves to describe the Kingdom of God? My dad loved his Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible and I thought it a good idea to see what Mr. Henry thought of the parable as told in Luke 13:

Here is, I. The gospel’s progress foretold in two parables, which we had before, Mt. 13:31-33. The kingdom of the Messiah is the kingdom of God, for it advances his glory; this kingdom was yet a mystery, and people were generally in the dark, and under mistakes, about it. Now, when we would describe a thing to those that are strangers to it, we choose to do it by similitudes. “Such a person you know not, but I will tell you whom he is like;” so Christ undertakes here to show what the kingdom of God is like (v. 18): “Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? v. 20. It will be quite another thing from what you expect, and will operate, and gain its point, in quite another manner.” 1. “You expect it will appear great, and will arrive at its perfection all of a sudden; but you are mistaken, it is like a grain of mustard-seed, a little thing, takes up but little room, makes but a little figure, and promises but little; yet, when sown in soil proper to receive it, it waxes a great tree.”

Jesus was clearly demonstrating to his audience that the Kingdom of God was very unlike to what they thought it would be. The beginning of it small, like the seed of the mustard plant. No victory brought about by sword and violence, no glorious entrance of a political hero and no heralding of a moral prophet and judge to bring a nation back to obeying ancient laws but a small almost unnoticeable event – the death of a man hung between two criminals and a rumour that he didn’t stay dead*. Then there is the spread of this Kingdom. No disciplined military maneuvers, no political alliances and no getting on God’s good side by being the obeying older brother but unpredictable (John 3:5), sometimes in places where it is not wanted and the people involved in it not the beautiful and famous. The word subversive comes to mind to describe this Kingdom.

Then there are those despicable birds that take refuge in this mustard bush. Could it be that the ones that find this Kingdom attractive are those that the Jews looked down upon? The Samaritans, prostitutes, tax collectors and gentiles?

Our Expectation of the Kingdom of God and His Christ

I think that this parable must cause us to ask some serious questions to ourselves. It is always so easy to see how other people have the wrong idea about the Kingdom but what about us? Will we be able to get beyond our expectations of what the Kingdom of God should be and who Christ should be to be acceptable to us? Or will we stay stuck in our clouded mindsets where the Kingdom should come in a neat way and liberate us from our oppressors with the force of a super power’s army? Should those who find shelter in this Kingdom be the acceptable ones or come already repentant?

May God’s Word become alive to us, transforming our lives to reflect His gory.

* Just to make it clear – I absolutely believe that Christ Jesus rose from the dead. I’m stating here what might have been the perception of the first people who heard the news.

johncrossI have been part of the Learning Community of ekerk/echurch and Missionet since last year. The current LC is made up of a mixture of mainly Afrikaans speaking church leaders and some individuals interested in the church. They come from various denominations: Nederduits Gereformeerd, Herformde Gereformeerde Kerk, AGS(AFM), independent and others. Together we talk and learn what it is to be the Church in the world today. I attended a gathering of the Learning Community (LC) on 17 & 18 February hosted by Mosaiek in Johannesburg, and the many things discussed excited me but also made my head spin. There is much that was said that I do not fully understand yet, but my curiosity has been tickled and that is what the LC is all about.

This specific gathering of the LC was dedicated to feedback of the (re)formation conference held last year in Wittenberg and Berlin and further development of ideas born there. For more information on the (re)formation conference visit http://www.echurch.co.za/reformation-blog. In short the (re)formation meeting was organised by ekerk/echurch and people who are in the forefront of the post-modern church were invited to discuss what the 21st-century Reformation might look like. From the booklet we received at the gathering:

“Blending academic and real-world knowledge and experiences, the group will describe how God is bringing life to His Church in various nations, consider what the future Church may look like, and identify steps that disciples and leaders might take to facilitate God’s activity.”

The speakers that presented the subjects of discussion included George Barna, Mark Batterson, Chris Seay, Johan Geyser, Stephan Joubert, Christian Schwarz and Leonard Sweet.

During the LC I wrote half a note book full of notes, and to reproduce all of it here will take me months and will probably unintelligible to most. So here is just a few of the highlights:

Johan Geyser:
Johan Geyser talked about The Movement towards an Integrated Holistic Spirituality. He mentioned movements from a mechanical to a holistic paradigm; from a static to a dynamic world view; from classic to quantum science; from institutional to network structures; from visionary, strategic leadership to spiritual leadership… All this is impacting how spirituality is being experienced today.

The question was then asked: How must the church look like in this new and changing world. He then spoke about the tendencies of the Pre-Modern, Modern and Post-Modern world.

So how should the church look like?

  • Should we go back to the fundamentals, the church of Acts 2? He joked about people saying we should do this but then quickly add that they will exclude the selling of all property.
  • Should we redesign church from the start

OR

  • Should we look back to the roots and then into the future? (Ancient-Future Church)

The last point seems to be happening all over and there is already talk of a collective awareness in the church regarding it.

Johan then talked about how he sees this move towards a holistic spirituality happening for the individual. He mentioned the practice of silence, Lectio Divina, voluntary displacement (liminality) and embracing mysticism. (The mysticism is not referring to Eastern mysticism but that of the Church fathers)

He left me very curious to pursue what he said further.

George Barna:
We watched the session of George Barna at Wittenberg that they recorded on DVD. George is one of those people who seems to know what is happening all over the world, and I guess that is a good thing since he made it his job to inform the church of trends. He mentions 9 things that he sees God doing on the North American church context:

  1. A leadership shift from old to new
    a) Fading leaders of the last 3 decades (nationally known and followed) to…
    b) Baby boom generation leaders – transitional leaders to…
    c) Emerging leaders (locally known and followed)
  2. The leadership mantel is moving from the North American churches to other countries.
    He feels that the American church were not responsible with the blessings they received and had a heart of arrogance rather than brokenness. The American church became fixated on maintenance, is selfish and made a career out of Christianity rather than a calling. (Wow, harsh words!)
  3. God is eliminating the stranglehold of old institutions.
    Seminaries – training models; Institutional churche structures is passing and networks based on relationship is becoming more important.
  4. God has been amassing resources in the American church and it is filtering through to the rest of the world.
    The income of the collective American church is an estimated $50 billion p.a.
    $5 billion of it goes into buildings which might become shopping malls in 50 years time.
  5. God is expanding ways faith can be expressed.
  6. Faith is becoming a controversial aspect of life.
    It’s being discussed everywhere without reservations.
  7. God is stirring a great interest in the need of the poor and downtrodden.
  8. God is shrinking the world through technology to make the church one body.
  9. God is allowing greater friction between world faiths.

After his session we talked about how what is happening in the Afrikaans (mainly white) church in South Africa is similar to that in the American church and we agreed there are many similarities, especially the points about institutions, resources and the interest in the need of the poor.

Chris Seay:
This session was also a DVD recording of the Wittenberg conference. Chris talked about how schism is the spiritual cancer of the church. He quoted a friend of his saying that the greatest schism within the church is between the clergy and the laity. To collaborate with God’s redemptive work in the world is opposite to collaborate with consumerism. The schism between clergy and laity is something that makes religious consumerism flourishes. The church has become so entrenched in this culture of consumerism that it adapted its methods to it to the point that only professionals can do church. The modern church has become what the Roman Catholic Church was before the reformation where the church became a stumbling block for people to connect with God. The modern church teaches people that you can only serve God and relate to Him if you do church the way we say. The church has enriched itself at the cost of the Kingdom of God.

He told the following parable to illustrate his point:

He has four children. Imagine his eldest was very successful at sport and became very famous and rich because of it. He has multiple mansions with more rooms than he has children and grand children. Each house has multiple garages with exotic cars filling them. He spends his money on all kinds of indulgences. Now imagine his other three children extremely poor. They have no opportunity for education and neither have their children and grand children. They live in the most terrible circumstance imaginable where they have to drink the same water they bath in. They do not have enough food and are starving to death. The eldest brother knows about this but does nothing about it. How will he as father feel about his eldest son? He will surely tell him that is not the way he was raised.

How does God feel about the church spending its blessing on indulgences when their brothers and sisters are starving? What is God saying in the Bibe about our brothers and sister that are suffering?

Conclusion
I went away convicted. I must rethink the way I live and what my priorities are… I made the following resolution:

I want to move closer to God and want to move with God in fulfilling His purposes for the church. I will do this through all means currently at my disposal. I will investigate new ways of experiencing God where He can transform me to what He intended me to be from the start.

Psalm 98 (NKJV)
1. Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
2. The Lord has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
3. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
4. Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
5. Sing to the Lord with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
6. With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.
7. Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
8. Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord,
9. For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.

I read this Psalm in my devotion time some months ago. This Psalm speaks of some really extravagant celebration. Just look at this:
Verse1 – Sing a new song. It takes time and commitment to write a new song. Before it is performed a LOT of work needs to be done – ask any song writer or arranger.
Verse 4 – Shout joyfully. Shouting goes with celebration. Just think of any sporting event – loud, joyous, and extravagant.
Verse 5 – A band playing along. Again this speaks of time consuming planning and rehearsal, not just haphazard, spur of the moment, let’s have a small get together. No this is serious partying!
Verse 6 – More shouting. Joyful shouting!
Verse 7 – Creation gets invited to this party. This is not a localised, house party. This is a global event. This has the characteristics of a new year’s celebration complete with rock bands televised across the globe and fireworks at Sydney Harbour, Moscow, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, London’s Millennium Wheel, New York’s Time Square and all over the globe. We talking about the biggest party one can imagine.

But what struck me about it was not only the extravagant celebration that is portrayed here but also the reason for it. Verse 9 says the following: “For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, And the peoples with equity.” Now this is where it got to me. Judgement is not normally associated with celebration, especially when God is involved. When God’s judgement comes up in conversations things get tense and voices get that serious tone to them not associated with a party. Our understanding of judgement is that of the law courts. You have the plaintiff or state attorney, the accused and their lawyer and the judge. When this law process is done then there is a judgement of guilty or not guilty. If guilty, then there is a penalty with not much reason for celebration, even the plaintiff will normally just state that they are “satisfied” that judgement went their way, but nothing to throw a global party about. If, however the judgement is “not guilty” there is normally much joy and, if South African court cases can be taken as an example, much celebration.

This Psalm says that God is coming to judge the earth and that is the cause of much extravagant celebration. I contemplated about this for some time now (more than 4 months actually). Then I read and discussed the following verse with some friends:

1 Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (NKJV)

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned- 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offence. For if by the one man’s offence many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offence resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offences resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offence death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

Wow! This good news, truly GOOD news. God the Father reconciled all things to Himself through Christ Jesus. This is extravagant grace! Jesus God’s free gift of grace is given to who? All? Really all? Can you believe it? ALL! WOW! Grace is true for all! Now this is reason for a global, extravagant, loud shouting, fireworks shooting party. This makes me want to shout with Darlene Zschech:

Shout to Lord all the earth let us sing.
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and sea will roar
At the sound of Your Name.

I sing for joy at the works of Your hands
Forever I’ll love you
Forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You

May this GOOD NEWS reach into your heart and fill your entire being:

You have been reconciled to God.
You have been forgiven.
There is nothing that stands between you and your Maker so come and reconcile yourself to Him and come into this wonderful relationship with God your Father.
Come live your life in this glorious place of reconstruction of your being.
Accept Christ Jesus as lord over your life, not Caesar, not Obama, not Robert Mugabe, not crime, not dependency on anything or anyone.
Jesus promises freedom and ultimately new and eternal life.
As for the Accuser’s case against you – you are found “NOT GUILTY”!

Grace is true for all. Let the celebrations begin.

Mine must be higher...

Mine must be higher...

Doctrine – the explication and officially acceptable version of a religious teaching. The development of doctrines and dogmas has significantly affected the traditions, institutions, and practices of the religions of the world. Doctrines and dogmas also have influenced and been influenced by the ongoing development of secular history, science, and philosophy.

And from the American Heritage Dictionary:

Theology –

  1. The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.
  2. A system or school of opinions concerning God and religious questions: Protestant theology; Jewish theology.
  3. A course of specialized religious study usually at a college or seminary.

 

(In this discussion I often group the concepts of doctrine and theology together and refer to both when the word “doctrine” is used except when noted otherwise.)

We humans are limited, God is unlimited; our knowledge limited while God is omniscient. We form theologies to try to understand an infinite Being and doctrines to try to explain how He relates to us and how we should relate to Him. Because we are limited in our knowledge these doctrines and theologies fall far short to describe this wonderful unlimited Being we know and recognise as God almighty. Yet we claim our doctrine or theology better and more perfect than the next person’s. We group ourselves with others with the same doctrine/theology and the more people we assemble around the same the more perfect we claim it to be. If someone dares to question some small part of our sacred doctrine we launch out in full attack and claim their doctrine to be at worst heretical or best erroneous. We are like children building towers with building blocks and the highest claims to be best. When another threatens to be higher we’ll throw a tantrum and try to knock theirs over.

We have an inherent need for God and try to reach out to Him and His perfection (Acts 17:27). With these doctrines and theologies we try to reach the perfection of God just like the people who built the tower of Babel.  We try to reach to the heavens.

Genesis 11:4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (NIV)

Now here is the catch. God stooped down from heaven, became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, walked among men, died on a cross and rose from the dead. All that is needed to reach out to God is belief in Christ Jesus and submitting under His Lordship. That is it. Nothing more than this.

In building our towers of doctrine higher we are missing the point. God is not to be found somewhere up there where the highest, most perfect tower can reach. He is to be found in the humility of surrender.

Doctrine and theology is useful because it help us understand (to a certain extent) what we belief. It is useful in figuring out how we should live out this submission to Christ and conduct ourselves while we do not know in full (1 Corinthians 13:12). But it is not essential for salvation.

My prayer is that God will knock us off of our towers of doctrine and that we will fall into His grace that is able to save and restore.

 

 

Sometimes I feel that I just don’t get it. Things just doesn’t make sense. Faith doesn’t make sense. God doesn’t make sense. Yesterday I saw some light. Well… I should rather say I was reminded of the comforting knowledge that I am not the only one feeling this way. On the blog CRN.Info Jerry answered a question from Neil. His answer struck me because it resonated with me on so many levels and explained how I feel in much better words than I could ever put together. With Jerry’s permission I repost his reply here.

_____________________________

Neil: “Would you expound on the relationship between “certainty” and “desperation.”?”

Jerry: Neil,

You know what it is? Last week I was at a camp with four kids from KCU. One has a 13 year old brother whose body is riddled with tumors.

I have a brother whose 30 year old brain is being crushed by a tumor. He is 30 years old and cannot control his piss any longer, eats paper, wanders aimlessly around the house. In short, he’s dying. 30.

I am about to take on a mortgage for my family, rejoice in God’s blessing, while others in the world are starving. Rejoice in all things, he says. And yet, I want this house so bad for my wife and sons and I shouldn’t feel badly that I have to have a place to live and that after 14 years of preaching I’m tired of living in a parsonage which provides nothing for my future or family.

I believe in Creation and the theological importance of such a belief. But what if Darwin was right? (I”m not interested in debating this so please spare me.) And why is what’s so obvious to me so hazy to others? (I’m not interested in debating so please don’t bother. Here I’m sharing those ‘certainties’ and ‘desperations.’)

What about all the lost? The Calvinist escapes this fear and angst by attributing all the lost to God’s just election. I cannot do that. Every person that dies without Christ tears me apart. What about hell? I don’t want to imagine it in any way.

What if David never really did exist?

What if I die some glad morning and I don’t have the requisite wings to fly away?

What if my sons grow older and end up hating God like my youngest brother does?

Why won’t my church grow even though I am preaching Sola Scriptura? Why does one man in the church continually harp on me about the length of the worship? Why have I been stuck preaching in small churches since the day I graduated while many of my peers have done far more?

Even on the mountain when Jesus ascended some doubted. The problem I have is that sometimes doubts have no answers.

Why have I had to struggle the way I have had to struggle with certain sins? No matter the prayers. No matter the faith. No matter the resistance. Struggle. Struggle. Struggle.

You know what it is? Grace. I cannot, no matter how much I believe and preach it, understand God’s grace. I am desperately clinging to that grace. Desperately.

PS. I don’t get dispensationalism either. Then again, I don’t get mathematics. I cannot reconcile Calvinism with Scripture and yet there are some who see nothing but ‘Calvinism.’ I don’t get ‘Left Behind’ and yet some see nothing but Left Behind. I play guitar and sing, but I don’t understand music. I am desperate.

But I’m learning that I am more desperate for Jesus than I am for answers.

I’m learning to live in the ambiguity of it all. Isn’t it strange that God could have give us straight answers–like the straight forward Laws of Leviticus–and yet he chose more often than not to give us ambiguity? Am I the only one who finds that strange, dissatisfying, and completely unfair?

I guess that’s what faith is about, huh?

jerry

Sorry for the long reply. Maybe this song is helpful to explain my position:

Well, sometimes my life
Just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

–Rich Mullins

It has already been said many times by many people that the Bible is a book of faith and not of science and I agree with that. If we are going to apply some scientific method to the Bible to prove it or pitch it against some scientific theory it is going to lose every time.

 

The Bible requires faith to believe it and it is not the same kind of faith needed to believe a scientific theory. The kind of faith needed to believe the Bible as spiritual truth is that kind of faith that resonates deep within you when you know something is true. That kind of faith that the Holy Spirit gives. The Bible speaks of a measure of faith given to us. Faith to believe in science is rational thought faith. Things making sense. A theory or idea corresponding with what is already known to be true or that is observed. If we try to use this kind of faith to prove the truth of the Bible we end up being the ridicule of the world and then we get defensive and start using the Bible as a weapon against people.

 

So can the Bible and science work together? I think it is a resounding “yes”. The Bible teaches us about God’s nature and His relationship to His creation. Science teaches us how God’s creation works. Both points towards God and should be observed and learned from.

 

An example of this is the creation account of Genesis. I understand from my theologically trained friends that this account is in the form of a Hebrew poem. So that should tell us that it should not be understood as a literal account. Not being literal does make it less true though. We should just know which truths can be learned from it and which not. Truths we can learn from it are:

 – God created

 – He created for a purpose

 – Humans are created in His image

 – God is relational

 – Many more…

Truths that cannot be learned from it are:

 – By what method God created

 – In what time frame God created

 – What systems God put in place to sustain and develop His creation

 – Probably a lot more that I can’t think about now

 

Bottom line – God is real, and He stands in relationship with His creation and He redeems fallen creation by the work of Jesus Christ. Can I prove it? No but I believe it without a doubt.

Chris L wrote a great article, Words and Sentences, which got me thinking of how love should be our motivation in all we do.

Brokenness

I think that, because of our brokenness, we get drawn to a specific aspect of the Bible. That area of brokenness resonates with something in the Gospel or Bible. Sometimes we feel challenged by the Word in that area of brokenness and this is how it should be. We need to realize, however, that our objectivity gets clouded by our brokenness. We can easily dwell on that area and make our own subjective experience with the Bible part of the Gospel. I think this is why some people are more sensitive to things like words and gestures than others.

That said, I also think we need to be sensitive towards people who, through their brokenness, came to emphasize and even eschew a part of the Bible. When we treat them with love, show them their subjectivity in love, we might help them on their path of healing. When we, however, hand them the truth strait on, it hurts. It’s like being handed a prickly pear with the skin on. It is nice, sweet and healthy on the inside but ouch! Hurting people with the truth never helps it just drives them away from us and further away from the truth that can set them free.

Love and Relationship

Talking about love… Love is expressed and comes to its full potential within relationship. Discernment, like all spiritual gifts and ministries is for the edification of the body of Christ and should function with its highest value as love. If love for our brother/sister, who is being discerned and corrected, is not our motivation, we cause hurt and destruction even if our words are filled with divine truth. My opinion is that all spiritual gifts and ministries including discernment should function within relationship. Relationship keeps us in check. Relationship keeps us together on the journey of healing and growth. I think Paul had this in mind when he put 1 Cor 13 (Love) in the middle of discussing spiritual gifts and ministries 1 Cor 12 & 14.

So back to words… Our words should be motivated by love. Not sometimes. Always. I think Chris L made this quite clear in his article. Thank you Chris.

Apology

Where I have hurt anyone of you with my words, I apologise. Please forgive me.

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