CENTER: On self?

Unfortunately, the Liberal worldview is just one manifestation of our not being ‘grown-up’ about things (i.e., family, friends, foes, work, play, rest, etc.).  In other words, what’s wrong with Liberalism is wrong with all of us!  We need to grow-up and be comfortable doing so, especially when those around us act/think like children.

Let’s remember that all our efforts are in vain, unless Christ builds himself (likeness) in us, otherwise we’ll be found pretending to be grown-up.

NOW: Believing before Be-living

[CONVERSATION HAD WITH FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK]

Right on, XXXXX.  The Gospel about Jesus Christ (i.e., born to die, perfect living, willful dying, triumph over death, raised to the Seat of Glory) is the sole truth that sets people free.

Of course, this truth also says something about the condition of people (whose sin(s) He must bear, once-for-all!).  He did for sinners (those born in a state of sin) what they couldn’t do for themselves due to their captivity/incapacity in this State.

The question remains: What does the Gospel-truth (about Christ) free us unto, here and now?  Is it just a “get-out-of-Jail-free card?”  Or does the ‘once-for-all forgiveness’ and ‘eternal-life-given’ — that Christ accomplished and applies — actually change the lives (mind and actions) of believers/be-livers ?  Or again, does their existence (being) continue to conform to their environment (earth)?

An answer: We definitely have reason to rejoice, in the Truth about Christ ‘for us’ (Bethlehem, Palestine, Calvary, MT-Tomb, Zion) and ‘in us’ (born-again, new creation, new heart, mind of Christ, etc).

And no doubt, there’s a calling upon us to wisely communicate these truths, in the milieu of everyday life (as we walk and talk).  We don’t need a special invitation (or meeting) in order to do this.  There are, of course, times when a door of opportunity is wide-open, providing a time and place for us to speak directly to Gospel-truths.  However, more often than not, we bear witness to Christ crucified and risen in our everyday lives.  Most of the circumstances (environment) of our lives will be like that of those who have YET to genuinely believe (trust and rejoice) in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus.  And yet, there is truly something different at the core (heart) of one who is genuinely a disciple, of which outsiders ought to be able to catch a glimpse.

As people get to know us, existentially, they will be faced with ‘something-of-the-reality’ of what is the engine (Christ crucified and risen) that drives our lives, regardless of things being similar circumstantially on the outside.  There typically is a problem in the “thinking” of believers though, which results in their “living” stunted lives.

Why are we “living” stunted lives?  I believe it begins with our having stunted “minds”.  We possess too small of an understanding of the nature of being a Christian.  In other words, we are having an identity-crisis, in failing to grasp the realities of what it means that “Christ is in us” and how this can genuinely impact our lives, to His glory and our neighbors good.

Problem is…most “believers” wrestle more with their “environment” (where in the world they are; what in the world is the world doing) and miss the need to begin and continue with a sound understanding of our “existence” in Christ and He in us.  Meaning, most “believers” are distracted by “environment” and fail to comprehend “existence” (their new identity in Christ/Christ living in them).  Thus, we can go on living out this identity-crisis and in so doing mis-communicate the truth regarding Christ ‘for us’ and ‘in us’.

So then, we are first and above all “accountable” to believe rightly, and then we can hope to live rightly, before God and toward our neighbor.

ME!: Narcissism

The folks over at the White Horse Inn have produced another worthwhile program: White Horse Inn : Narcissism Epidemic

Narcissism (self-focus) is discussed as being a root cause, psychologically speaking, of many troubles that our society faces, even those economical. 

Mike Horton converses with author and professor Jean Twenge about her latest book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.  Jean has some interesting insights, such as the principle of “inflation” and how it bears upon ‘self-image’ at both an individual and societal level (and everywhere in between). 

The conversation helps to bring into focus the role that Narcissism plays in things such as parenting, the media, Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, etc), and easy credit. 

Though I disagree with some of the discussion about the “Greatest Generation” (that is, the Depression/WW2 generation), viewing it as something of a Golden Age (the Greater America), there’s no doubt that our day (generation) is faced with some very sobering consequences of our buying into the psychobabble of yesteryear. 

For another interesting and related WHI program, see: Boredom and Entertainment  with author Richard Winter, Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment.

TIRESOME: Blogging

Finally broke with a scheduled blog entry every three days.  This type of thing tends to get old, as do many things, including blog reading and the Internet in general.

The intention is to continue blogging… just not sure how often.  Not that there is, or should be, a great following of this blog, which demands the need for a great effort on my part. 

As mentioned elsewhere, the main reason for this blog is that it operates as a repository for worthwhile things found on the Internet (other blogs, etc) and some personal thoughts. I used to do something like this in a Word Document, but thought to make it public for a few friends with whom I interact. 

The hope too was that this blog might prove useful in some small way in the future in demonstrating something of what it means to be a Gospel-oriented believer.  At least for those who have already begun to come under the sway of the fuller ramifications of the Gospel as the creative and sustain Word of God.

MUSING: Less is More

A few random thoughts from this past week (or two) loosely tied together: 

We all are wired for self-righteousness, regardless of what form it most manifests itself in…legalism or licentiousness.  Fact is, we as believers will always (this side of Glory) struggle with what we do RIGHT and WRONG, both.  Granted, daily we’re faced with our own shortcomings.  Yet, Mr. RIGHT has the same fundamental problem…SELF-righteousness.  Either way, Christ’s righteousness is always alien.  But for His ongoing graciousness, we’d have ZERO participation in the Kingdom.  ZERO! 

Do not kid yourself for a moment, brethren; all of us are struggling to live according to faith in Christ.  He who does not think so is the greater fool.  Faith does not come as a commodity we pull off the shelf at Wal-Mart.  So yes, there are God given means to His giving/sustaining/nurturing us in faith, but the measure too is His, not only the means

As someone once said, our growing in grace is about our becoming more realistic (honest) about our being human.  Becoming a Christian is about our no longer “being as gods”.  It is tough for us (and understandably so) to get very comfortable with ourselves, even in Christ.  The entirety of our days are spent laboring according to a performance model.  No labor, no pay!  Yet, the whole of the Christian Faith is hinged on an entirely different model…Christ crucified for sinners (which we remain while here).  So, daily we struggle between (confusing) the two, on top of the fact that the world goes round and round like this, we have a natural inclination to perform and be stroked for doing so.  God’s plan is different.  He does all the essential work!  He does all the salvationing.

So then, let us not get bogged down in wondering too long, about how self-righteous we might still be.  ALL of us are Selfish and everyday this kills us; and boy does it ever hurt.  I hate it!   

I hope that anyone who hears me is reminded of at least two things: 1) God saves, and 2) We are sinners (and we never quite get over either one).  

The world (and sadly much of the Church) hates it when we say…screw that idea of our “measuring up!”  Christ is our measure and may this – by His mercy – become something central in our lives.  We who hate this have a common response: “What, aren’t you going to do anything?!”  NO.  NO.  NO.  HE HAS!  Get over it!  God help us to think in this way without lacking due charity.

The equation then is this: 

Less = More  (< = >). 

Less of us, and the totality of Christ! 

Christ then is our YES! YES! YES!

PREACHING: Why Johnny Can’t (4th post)

We left off last time (in our discussion about Why Johnny Can’t Preach) with a remark about the alleged Pauline statement regarding the “folly of preaching”.  I claimed that Paul did not say such.  Let us look at the text itself:

1 Corinthians 1 (ESV)

V.17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

V. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

V.19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

V.20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

V.21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

V.22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,

V.23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

V.24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Notice that it is not “preaching” that the World considers folly.  No, rather, it is “WHAT we preach” that is folly, not preaching in and of itself (v.21).  The world and its churches preach all the time (v.20).  The world has its own proclamation.  So I dare say it is not “preaching” proper that is the problem (folly) but the Cross (God’s humiliation saving sinners).  Christ (God’s anointed) crucified for sinners is folly.  It is folly to the world (undiscerning; see 1Cor.2.14), that, CHRIST, dead and risen, is the power and wisdom of God. 

Why do I bother to stress this?  Because all too often folks are thinking that preaching itself is the answer (almost regardless of what’s preached).  In addition, too often this proclamation is being reserved for the pulpit.  Anything taking place outside the pulpit is somehow inferior.  I simply do not buy a high-church tendency that hijacks the Gospel ministry, chaining it to an elevated desk.  Granted, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed/taught God be thanked, but let us not quarantine the Word of Life to one platform when there are other acceptable ones.

Notice too, that Paul understands that a “polished” ministry is not only what the World wants (is wooed by) but is something that in itself can empty the Cross of its divine power and wisdom.  There was no shortage of such “eloquent wisdom” in Corinth and Paul knew it, repeating the matter multiple times (see 1Cor.2.1; 2.4; 2Cor.4.2; & 10.10). 

Consider also the following from the JFB Commentary:

“not with wisdom of words” — or speech; philosophical reasoning set off with oratorical language and secular learning, which the Corinthians set so undue a value upon (1Co_1:5; 1Co_2:1, 1Co_2:4) in Apollos, and the want of which in Paul they were dissatisfied with (2Co_10:10).

In sum, then, it would be the case that Christ himself is foolishness and eloquent preaching (particularly that which only allows Jesus to make guest appearances) a subtraction.  Reader beware…not only the World but believers too stumble at Christ crucified being the simple and sufficient means whereby God does His salvationing, all of it, beginning to end, from here to glory. 

One last post to come…