He isn’t a capitalist, a militarist, an Evangelical, a Catholic or a Mormon. He’s not a fundamentalist, a theologian, a conservative or a liberal. He is not a Republican, a Democrat or a member of any party. He is a simple itinerant teacher who lived beyond the systems of his day and the systems of ours. He did not found a religious organization, engin -eer the Great Schism, cause the Inquisition or approve the Holocaust. He did not sanction the reformation, validate the Puritans, write the US constitution or applaud the Ku Klux Klan. He was a poor man, a humble servant, the incognito Prince of Peace and the strength of God invading the fallen world. He is the one who lay down His life to prove the power of forgiveness and the weakness of hatred. And He calls us to decline the wealth of this world; to challenge the evil around us; to fearlessly and relentlessly love because He stood victorious against the power of death. And that’s why I like Jesus.
He isn’t bothered by imperfect people like me. I know that because He deliberately chose a dozen imperfect people. He spent a lot of time with them. He was grieved by them, grew impatient with them, mistrusted them and tolerated them. He didn’t reject them. He took them for who they were and loved them anyway. If He was able to do that with the disciples, doesn’t that mean He’s willing to do that with me? With you? He was confident that no matter how imperfect His followers were, they could be more because of His love. Just another reason I like Jesus.
No sooner had the first humans screwed things up, the Creator was making plans for the first Christmas. The plan included a declaration of war. If you haven’t browsed my post, The Battle Cry of Bethlehem, this would be a good time.
The war of Christmas started rather quietly as wars go. It didn’t start with an opening shot; it started with the birth of the commanding general. Then it was 30 years while He grew into His rank. The opening shot, as it turns out, was at the baptism of this promised liberator (Matthew 3:16-17 and on into chapter four). In that instant, He assumed his role as the commander of the resistance; the leader of the revolution that would overthrow the illegitimate government of the serpent. He emerges from the water and is deployed to the desert to meet His Father’s ancient enemy in battle. Continue reading The Battle of Christmas→
Every year at about this time, I refer back to my post of a few years ago that I called, The Battle Cry of Bethlehem. It is my attempt to contextualize the Christmas story by pointing out the con- frontational nature of the coming of Jesus. Recall that the Creator announced His response to the attack on the human race that took place in the garden. It was a declaration of war. God assured all of creation He would not leave Satan’s provocation unanswered. He said He would invade Earth with His own presence and assemble an army to drive darkness from the world. The apostle John said, “For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil.”
Just had a delightful conversation with two young ladies from the LDS church (the Mormons). They stopped by to chat about faith and church. I wish we’d had more time to talk.
One of the things I like to explore with LDS folks is why they feel there is a need for a “new revelation,” i.e., The Book of Mormon and others. Such discussions usually reveal some remarkable differences in understanding about the nature of God, the Savior (Jesus) and salvation.
They said they might stop by again. If not, maybe they’ll email me. I gave them my card.
In the 48 years since I was first ambushed by Jesus, in a little chapel in the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania, and in literally thousands of hours of prayers, meditation, silence and solitude over those years, I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question and only one question,
“Did you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?”
The real believers there will answer, “Yes, Jesus, I believed in your love and I tried to shape my life as a response to it.”
But many of us who are so faithful in our ministry, in our practice, in our churchgoing, are gonna have to reply, “Well frankly, no, sir. I mean I never really believed it. I mean I heard a lot of wonderful sermons and teachings about it. In fact, I gave quite a few myself. But I always thought that was just a way of speaking, a kindly lie, some Christian’s pious pat on the back to cheer me on.”
And there’s the difference between the real believers and the nominal Christians that are found in our churches across the land.
No one can measure like a believer the depth and the intensity of God’s love, but at the same time no one can measure like a believer the effectiveness of our gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred and despair that block God’s way to us.
Do you see why it is so important to lay hold of this basic truth of our faith? Because you’re only going to be as big as your own concept of God.