Tuesday, February 24, 2009

From the Cradle to the Cross to the Crown?

As you may be able to guess about me, I enjoy listening to preachers. I always take notes, and I’m always trying to learn new things about the career I find myself in. One time, I heard a preacher mention the trip that Christ took from the Cradle to the Cross to the Crown. It made me think about the way I see Christ.

Is that all His life was about? Did he only come to earth to go from the Cradle to the Cross to the Crown?

I don’t think so.

If we reduce the life of Christ to those simple three steps, we’re committing robbery.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully willing to affirm the importance and the theological significance of those three parts of Christ’s life and death. But it seems to me that if we remove the section that happened between Cradle and Cross, we will have completely missed the point.

I refuse to believe that Christ came simply to die. Yes, I believe his death was part of the purpose for his coming. But he came with more than one purpose. He also came to teach us how to live. In fact, I think he spent a good deal of time talking about the way we should live.

As a Nazarene, the life of Christ holds an incredible amount of importance to me. Because, it is in His life where he shows the example of holiness.

Without the life of Christ, the time between the Cradle and the Cross, we would not have the example of a life lived well. We wouldn’t have the example of holiness.

When you’re thinking of Christ, don’t limit your thoughts of him to “Baby Jesus” (As Ricky Bobby so wonderfully showed us), and don’t focus your vision of Jesus as a man dying on the Cross. Instead, focus on a life well lived. Focus on the perfect example of holiness.

And while you focus on Christ’s life, ask God to make you more and more like Christ every day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Importance of Eschatological Correctness

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I enjoy doing a bit of thinking. I like to wrestle with difficult concepts. For me, the argument (even with myself) isn’t about being right. It’s about the argument. I enjoy thinking about difficult things and arguing with them. I ask myself questions like, “What if it isn’t really that way?” or “What if we have it all wrong?”

I have been wrestling with eschatology. Eschatology is concerned with the end. One of my professors in college really enjoyed eschatology. For him, everything theological came back around to eschatology.

I’m not quite on his level of enjoying the study of eschatology. However, I do enjoy talking and thinking about eschatology. Also, it’s a fun word to say. Say it. I’ll wait a moment. Eschatology.

I heard a pastor recently preaching about the end times, and what it was going to be like. He spoke with absolute certainty about the end of days. He knew exactly what was going to happen in the end of days.

To me, this seemed a bit arrogant and possibly somewhat short-sighted. I always got the impression that even Jesus (who was fully God), did not have it all put together yet. How could this pastor possibly have it all figured out if God didn’t really seem to know exactly what was going to happen?

It’s somewhat heretical to suggest that God doesn’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s the impression I always got from Scripture.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t talk about the end times. Quite the contrary! I do think, however, that we should avoid speaking of the end times with absolute certainty. The simple fact is, we do not know what is going to happen, and we surely do not know when it is going to happen (88 reasons for ’88, right?).

I remember reading the Left Behind books a number of years ago. I really enjoyed them, but I’m very cautious not to count them as Scripture. They are a fantastical interpretation of what two men believe to be true, regarding the end times. If it happens that way, good for them. If not, should we be sad?

I say all this to implore anyone reading this to be careful. Be careful when talking about the end times. We do not know what is going to happen. What we know is that in the end God wins.

God wins.

And in the end, that’s all we really need to know. Don’t waste all your time looking heavenward for the rapture. There are people on earth who will not get to be a part of that glorious day. Spend your time in the fields, evangelizing, discipling.

If the rapture happens while you’re in the fields, God still wins.

If the rapture happens after you die, God still wins.

If the rapture never happens, God still wins.

Regardless of the outcome, God always wins.

Live like it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Doctrine of Hope


We’ve been saturated with this word. Barack Obama’s entire campaign was built on the premise of hope. He was bringing the hope that politics could be different. Young people flocked to the idea of hope.

We’re drawn to hope.


Last night at church, Stan Toler spoke about the negativity of the culture we find ourselves in. I think this is why we flock to the idea of hope. We want to know that it doesn’t have to be so negative all the time!

So, I’ve been thinking, where does hope fit in with my theology? There’s a book on my shelf called An Emergent Manifesto of Hope. Even within the church, we are yearning for some hope. Parts of the emergent movement are fueled by the hope that church doesn’t have to look the way we’ve seen it for so long.

So, I ask again, where does hope fit in with my theology? I haven’t read that book yet, but it’s on my list for the future. There’s an old hymn that tells us where our hope comes from. Remember these words?

My hope is built on nothing less…
Than Jesus blood and righteousness.

Some of us cling to the hope that it will all be better in heaven, because of what Christ did for us here on earth. But, maybe that’s not what it means? My hope is that the world would get better because of what Jesus did for us here. My hope is that the followers of Christ would be radically transforming the world. My hope is that we would be showing the world that there is hope, even in times of despair.

Are you showing the world that there is hope, or are you leaving that up to President Obama?

There is hope.

We still serve a living God.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

God's Presence

This morning in prayer meeting, an interesting concept came to me. We were talking about Psalm 27. In that Psalm, the psalmist tells God that the only thing he wants is to dwell in the Temple. If you know your Old Testament theology at all, you know that the Temple was where the presence of God resided.

So, in essence, the psalmist is saying that the only thing he wants from God is to be in God’s presence.

What if this was my prayer today?

Could I be content with just asking God to be with me?

As I continued think about that thought, I moved myself from Old Testament theology into New Testament theology. As a result of Christ’s death, the veil in the Temple was torn. As a result of that, the presence of God is everywhere now. This had the profound effect that anyone can approach the throne of God.

So, what if my prayer was still to simply dwell in God’s presence?

What does that look like?

As the conversation at prayer meeting continued, the idea presented itself that we are not simply in the presence of God. We are the presence of God!

We are the presence of God to the world.

We are the walking, living, breathing presence of God.

How does that change the way we think today? What about the way we act?