Archive for the ‘Bible’ category

Is God a Hard Taskmaster?

July 10, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 10941070 Copyright: magann

In the parable of the talents[1], the master gives his servants different amounts of funding before he leaves on a long trip. The servants given 10 talents and 5 talents invest them and make more money. The servant given one talent buries it in the ground. When the master comes back and asks for an accounting, the servant who buried his only talent in the ground told the master that he knew his master was a “hard taskmaster” reaping where he did not sew and gathering where he scattered to seed, and the servant was afraid so he hid the talent in the ground. The Master explodes, calling the servant wicked and slothful, and He takes the talent away from the servant.

The Master’s response seems harsh – like a hard Taskmaster! At other places in the Bible we see statements of God honoring the industrious and treating the slothful as wicked, but is God really a hard Taskmaster?

This parable is an allegory illustrating our relationship with God so gaining understanding of what Jesus is saying here is important.

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If/When God Sends Us Difficulties

July 10, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 86547374 Copyright: Johan-jk

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people….”[1]

We like to view God as a Great Benevolent Giver in the sky. We want Him to pour out good gifts to us and make our lives easy for us, and we are disappointed, disillusioned and discouraged when we don’t experience the generosity we imagine and want from God.

God is benevolent for sure, but He is much more than that. He doesn’t just want to give us good things; He wants to give us Himself. In fact, he doesn’t just want to give us Himself, He wants to pour Himself out into and through us to bless others as He desires to bless us.

But, this ultimate desire and purpose of God to bless us takes on a different form than we would like at times. God’s activity in our lives doesn’t always feel like a blessing.

In this verse from 2 Chronicles 7, we learn that God, Himself, may cause difficult things to happen, or simply allow them to happen, in our lives. But why? And what can we do about it?

We need to read the second half of the verse and consider the context in which it was written for a more complete picture.

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Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 5 – Racism

July 7, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 102795786 Copyright: monkeybusiness

This is the last in a series of five blog articles on the question: whether the Bible is sexist and racist? The subject is introduced in Part 1. We tackled sexism by looking at the overarching theme of the Bible on men and women in Part 2 and by looking at how Jesus treated women in Part 4. We tackled racism in Part 3 by looking at the overarching theme of the Bible on diversity. Finally, we view racism and diversity through the life of Jesus and His followers in this part 5.

Jesus doesn’t tackle the issue of racism or diversity directly, but He lived in a complicated time. He was Jewish, living in a tight knit Jewish community, which was governed and ruled by foreigners, the Romans. The Jews had a history of living alongside foreigners and were at various times throughout that history governed by them against their will.

Many of the foreigners were actually very closely related, like the Samaritans, who were of Jewish descent, and the Canaanites before them.

The Jews believed there were only two types of people: Jews and everyone else (Gentiles). They seemed to have forgotten that the very first words God spoke to Abraham, when He chose Abraham and his progeny, was that God chose them to be a blessing to all the nations. (Genesis 12:1-3) God didn’t choose them to bless only them, but to bless all nations through them.

Jesus was that blessing. Jesus is traced back to Abraham. He is from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the root of Jesse’s seed, father of David. Jesus is the Promised One. So, how Jesus viewed others is the key to understanding what the Bible says about racism and diversity.

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Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 4 – Sexism

July 7, 2017

depositphotos Image ID: 138541616 Copyright: Rawpixel

We have been exploring the answer to the question: whether the Bible is sexist and racist. We opened the discussion in Part 1, tackled sexism in Part 2 by looking at the sweeping theme of the Bible dealing with men and woman, and we considered the sweeping theme of the Bible dealing with racism in Part 3. We did this by looking at the beginning and the end, Genesis and Revelation, among other things.

Genesis describes how God created the world and people in it and provides a window to peer into God’s motivations, intentions and purposes. We find that God created an idyllic habitation for men and women to live in harmony with Him and nature, but He allowed people to have free will.

Free will introduced the possibility that people would choose their own values over God’s values and go their own ways. We are told Adam and Eve, the first people (or representative people) did choose their own way, and that choice introduced sin into the world.

Sin means “to miss the mark”. The “mark” would include, among other things, God’s values. People have chosen their own values over God’s values, and the result is that we live in a world in which God’s values are distorted from what He intended. But what are God’s values?

We see that men and women were created as counterparts who, together, reflect the image of God. Neither one is valued higher than the other. We see that God intended them to be fruitful and multiply, to diversify, and not to hunker down in one place with one language in a homogeneous civilization. God wanted diversity. These are the overarching themes of the Bible.

The Old Testament is largely the story of how God chose one people through whom He intended to bless all the nations of the world, but His chosen people continually chose to go their own way. They largely did not reflect God’s values in the way they lived. The Church, today, often does not reflect God’s values as revealed in the Bible. Paul says, though every man may be a liar, still God is true. (Romans 3:4)  We can’t judge God’s values by what we see people doing – even church people.

In fact, only one person in history, we are told, truly reflected all that God is – Jesus. Jesus was “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and the “exact representation of His nature”. (Hebrews 1:3) Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)  In this segment, therefore, we will look at what Jesus said and did that can be applied to the subject of sexism.

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Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 3 – Racism

July 7, 2017

Depositphotos Photography ID: 136218314 Copyright: renaschild

This is the third part in a series on whether the Bible is sexist and racist. We introduced the question in Part 1 and explored whether the Bible is sexist in Part 2 by going back to the beginning, back to the creation story, where God introduces us to the crown of His Creation, Adam and Eve.

We will explore what the Bible reveals to us about God’s view of racism in this Part 3 of the series before turning to what Jesus had to say about both sexism in Part 4 and racism in Part 5.

As we try to understand what the Bible as to say about racism, we go back to Adam and Eve. They are depicted in the Bible as representative of the human race. Genesis, therefore, has application not only to gender relations but to race relations as well. We will go back to Genesis to begin to explore God’s view on racism as revealed in the Bible, and we will end this piece in Revelations with a glimpse of how things will ultimately be when the redemption of the world is complete and God’s purpose is fulfilled.

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Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 2 – Sexism

July 7, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 31694753 copyright: DesignPicsInc

Racism, sexism and oppression are themes in the story of man’s relations to other men (and women) throughout history. Many people today have the notion that the Bible perpetuates those things, and that enlightened men and women know better. But is that really true?

We introduced the question what the Bible says about sexism and racism in Part I. In this second part in the series, we look at what the Bible reveals to us about sexism. In Part 3, we begin to explore how the Bible addresses racism. In Part 4, we observe what Jesus reveals about sexism, and Part 5 tackles racism through the life of Jesus and what he taught.

We begin to deal with sexism in this blog. To get an idea of what what the Bible reveals about God’s idea of the interrelationship of men and women, we need to go back to the beginning, back before sin entered the world. There we are told God created Adam and Eve, the first (or representative) people. In the creation story, we get a glimpse of what God intended, and we begin to see how God views men and women in their original, intended state.

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Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 1

July 7, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 150906934 Copyright: Rawpixel

Many people charge the Bible with being sexist and racist. Whether the Bible is sexist and racist goes to the heart of who the Bible says God is. What does the Bible say about these things? How does the Bible describe men, women, ethnicity, diversity and human life?

Is the Bible accurately portrayed in the media on these issues? Is it accurately understood by the common person? Is the Bible accurately followed by the people who claim the Bible as their guiding light?

These questions are relevant today as Black Lives Matters and women’s marches and gatherings make the news and immigration policy is being debated in the national media. How do we value human life? What is the basis for the value of human life?

And what does the Bible really say about these things? This is a five part series that looks at the evidence of how God views sexism from a biblical overview and evidence of how God views racism from a biblical overview, followed by the evidence in the Bible of the way Jesus viewed sexism and the evidence in the Bible of the way Jesus viewed racism from the new Testament.

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