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Showing posts from October, 2009

What is holiness?

Usually we associate God's holiness with his majesty and power. We don't often associate it with love... but Jesus did. Check this out.

Exhibit 1: Leviticus 19 is the chapter of that book devoted to the subject of holiness among God's people. I was surprised to discover that most of that chapter is social in nature, meaning that holiness among us is a matter of the quality of our relationships. Read it and see for yourself!

--> Holiness is primarily a matter of relationships.

Exhibit 2: Jesus stated that the two great commandments were to love God (the Shema from Deut 6:4-5) and love our neighbor as ourselves. Guess where the second commandment is from... Leviticus 19 (19:18 to be exact), the chapter on holiness! So for Jesus, one of the greatest commandments is to love our neighbor as ourselves, and loving our neighbors is an expression of holiness.

--> To love our neighbors is to be holy.

Exhibit 3: What about people who are not our "neighbors"? (In …

How important is the incarnation?

How important? Consider this. Theologian Charles Gore observed in 1891 that throughout the centuries, the essence of the Christian religion has been faith in the incarnation. That is, Christianity revolves around the conviction that the person of Jesus of Nazareth was God in human flesh. This conviction is so indispensable that if it was to disappear, Christianity as a distinct religion would be gone also. I believe Gore is right.

A further question is how does belief in the incarnation affect our daily lives? Here is one way it can: see Jesus as the prototype for the ultimate expression of human life. Imitate Jesus. Take up his way of life.

Where should we start? Here is just one suggestion (I could make many more!). This one is particularly relevant to me today, and maybe it will be relevant to you too. Jesus surrendered everything in his life to the will of the Father. Let's imitate him by setting aside a moment first to identify clearly something we find ourselves concerned abo…

The scarlet thread running through the Bible

The Bible is a huge book, but in its essence it is really very simple. There is one way we can evaluate the quality of a human life or the collective life of a community of people -- look to see how they (or we) are doing with regard to the Shema. The Shema is the scarlet thread that runs through the whole Bible.

The Bible is at its core a story of love between a relational God and human beings. We humans are special, because in us God invested his own image, which includes the ability to relate personally to God and one another. The love between God and human beings flows in two directions. First comes God’s love to us. God creates human beings for a mutual relationship of love, but God’s proactive love always precedes human responsive love. The number of biblical passages that speak of God’s love for us are almost countless. A particular passage we looked at last week in our group is Gen 3:8, where God comes to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden in the cool of the day. The picture…

1 Corinthians 7:21 -- Your social standing doesn't matter!

Have you ever thought about how much energy we expend jockeying for position in social spheres? We want the next job, income level, house, or car. We think a different appearance will cause people to think more of us. Often jockeying for social position is more subtle, like wanting the right kind of attention from the right people, or protecting how we might look to others, or modifying our circle of friends in order to advance some personal interest. We are prone to swim in a constant swirl of concern about what other people think of us.

We receive an unending stream of messages from our culture -- and even within the church -- that our standing in relation to everyone else is to be fought for and protected. We also battle our expectations of ourselves, pushing ourselves to achieve social honor and avoid disrespect or shame.

If you, like me, sometimes struggle to forget about yourself… now hear this. Your social standing doesn’t matter. That is what Paul teaches. Who you are in compari…