“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16 ESV)
This was “the verse of the day” today, and it’s a timely one. It’s easy to get caught up in this world, what is happening day to day and thinking about the future… in this life… and forget about or gloss over the importance of the kingdom of God.
Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God. Jesus came looking for followers. He challenged people to leave behind the things that anchored them to this world. To the rich young ruler, he said, “Give everything to the poor and come follow me.” When Jesus invited Peter and his brother Andrew, “Come follow me,” they left their nets to follow him.
But, it isn’t just about leaving things behind. The reason John urges us not to love the world is that “the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17) Paul said the same thing to the Corinthians: “[T]his world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31) Why would we want to hold onto it?
I am torn with mixed emotions as I watch my social media news feeds well up with agitating statements from pole to pole. The inauguration and the women’s marches have set my social media world on edge – or rather edges. Polarization is the structure and substance of our modern discourse.
In the middle of it all are my brothers and sisters in Christ, dividing over the same issues that divide the country. We feel compelled to take sides, to hold up our own partisan signs, to signal where we stand and to look around to see who is standing with us.
That we seem to be lining up in the same fashion as the rest of our world has me feeling uneasy. Are we no different for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus than the world around us who finds no need of a Savior and no palate for a Lord?
Have we been born again, born of the Spirit, born from above? Or have we simply adopted a layer of adornment that we have put over the worldviews we already have?
I ask these questions for myself as I put them on paper. I am asking these questions for all of us who profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
How much of our political motivation is rooted in our desire for an easy life, for familiar things, for things that are friendly to our faith? We need to search our hearts on a regular basis to be sure that we are not following after our own, human purposes and not God’s purposes.
What if God doesn’t see things the way we do?
What if God can be most effective and make the most change in the world and in people’s lives when circumstances are not favorable to the motivations and desires of Christians? What if God light shines most where darkness is greatest?
The article, A Classic Pentecostal Encounters Charismatic Catholics, takes me back to the early days of my Christian walk. I was raised Catholic, but I found little attraction to church as a child. We went to church religiously, a practice I later came to appreciate about my parents, but there seemed to be nothing in it for me. I even felt uncomfortable in church.
I went through some very rebellious teen years, wandering lost through the haze and fog induced by alcohol and drugs, drifting to the edge of the precipice, before I woke to the emptiness that I had inexplicably been embracing. That was not my conversion, but just the beginning of walking in a new direction.
Fast forward just a short while to college where I entered like a kid in a candy store with a new found passion for knowledge and truth. I thought I had left religion behind. Actually I did (and have never returned). What I did not realize is that I would discover the life that religion (for me) enshrouded like an empty tomb. Continue reading “Catholics, Pentecostals and the Body of Christ”→
Do not store up[i] for yourselves treasures[ii] on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21)
I have been saying this a lot lately, and I have been trying to be more heavenly minded.
When you think about it, our lives are not only fragile but momentary. My life could end at virtually any time, and if I live to be 100, it will be over when it is over. Continue reading “Treasures in Heaven”→
“Your kingdom[*] come….” (Matt. 6:10) Jesus instructed his apostles, and therefore his followers, including us, to pray for God’s kingdom to come. That is a curious instruction, as many Jews at the time believed that the Messiah would overthrow the Roman occupation of Judea and return the land to Jewish rule. They were bitterly disappointed when that did not happen.
Did the disciples not pray hard enough? Did God fail to answer the prayer Jesus instructed them to pray? What does that mean for us today? We need to look back at the First Century for the answer. Continue reading “Your Kingdom Come”→
One thing that is a constant theme for me, something that is always just beneath the surface of my thinking, one that is continually rising to the top, is the truth that people are not stereotypes.
I am probably as guilty as anyone of stereotyping. Sometimes stereotyping is useful, but we must never forget that people are not stereotypes. Stereotyping people into groups, and stereotyping groups themselves, can be an impediment to truth and an impediment to real dialogue, effective communication and understanding. Continue reading “Stereotyping and the Church”→