Thought 11/28

You ever notice how the word “disciple” resembles “discipline”?

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Thought 11/20

If you pray for someone and then it just so happens that you are presented an opportunity to minister to them, that is by no means an accident. I don’t mean busting out your bible and going to town despite the desire of your audience, but being kind and supportive (like Jesus). I believe in telling people about Jesus, but more often than not, it is more helpful and mainstream to demonstrate Jesus. We need comfort when loved ones are sick, we need to laugh when we feel like we’ve messed up, we need someone to listen when life feels over the top, we need someone to just generally stay and act as consistent. More often than not, if you genuinely care for a person (regardless of how personally close they are to you) and you keep your eyes on God as you lift them up in prayer, things work out in such a way where you can be helpful. Ultimately, we are called to represent Christ even when people don’t accept what we believe (or legitimately attack it). Even if a friend or acquaintance never comes to a saving knowledge of Christ, my job is to love them. You don’t have to worry about insider-outsider politics and whether or not they are “saved” enough for you to talk to them. You can just care for them genuinely and let love be that.

Thought 11/14

It’s easier to act as though you don’t understand what you have to do than to go ahead and do it. Sometimes we use ignorance as an false excuse when we simply don’t want to move. You don’t need to have things perfectly figured out to obey God. More often than not, trusting in the Lord and listening for him as you walk together is more necessary than that you know everything about a task before you’ve started out.

What does it mean to be a “foreigner”?

Are the words “foreigner” and “gentile” as used in Exodus 22:21 and Romans 11:18 the same?

Exodus 22:21 says: “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt” (NIV). It seems to encourage living peaceable with the entire family of God, one’s neighbor (as in “loving they neighbor”, Mark 12:31), and treating people with kindness out of remembrance for what God has done for you (kinda like taking communion, as in Luke 22:19).

Romans 11:18 on the other hand says “But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root” (NIV). It focuses on being as one family in God with our natural root being Christ, and the promise that was made to the Hebrews that you and I are lucky enough to also receive. Stressing the lack of partiality before God, we are told to treat others who are inside the faith kindly, and not to brag to others outside of the faith.

The difference between Exodus 22:21 and Romans 11:18 seems to be the insider vs. outsider perspective, and how it was meant to be stewarded with different covenants. With the Old Testament and the covenant made to Abraham, the children of God were told to treat their neighbors with such love as they had received, so that people would come to believe in God (though not necessarily inheriting his promises). With Exodus, we see that by way of Christ’s sacrifice, by faith we are saved. We are told to remember that those who are unsaved or un-churched are not so different from us, and that we out to humbly receive from God as if we were the natural branches who were not broken off. While this passage speaks to not create drama within the church, it also reminds us to focus our attention on Christ who makes us righteous, and to not cast divisions between ourselves and the outside world. Creating pointless jealousy slanders the church, and we are told to come to worship with the love of God and genuine thanksgiving.

Ultimately, we are all separate and foreign to God except by way of Christ. Separated from he who is holy by sin and the desire to indulge it, we all need a Savior to make the way for us. Treating those who are unlike us with mercy and the same grace afforded to us by Christ Jesus isn’t just in order to reflect God’s character, but also because Christ paid for them. If if people never accept Jesus, they were still bought and ransomed by the blood of God (in Christ). Remembering that we are all family is key to treating people with the respect they are due as fellow children of God.

Respecting the marriage covenant is meant to be an act of faith

The process of building a healthy set of expectations onto one’s faith so that marriage is actually worth experiencing has so much more to do with having strong faith beforehand. I know that we are all sinners under grace, but conversations on purity that may or may not include sex often miss out on one of the most important factors to respect the marriage covenant: that by waiting for something so highly joyous and desired, you have a small glimpse of what it means to wait on Christ, as humans have been doing first and then a second time throughout all of human history.

This comes down to self-discipline and putting the respect you have for God’s covenants and will above your own desires. If you respect him, then you obey him. Instead of defining what reverence and awe for God looks like by what it’s not, why aren’t more Christians framing this issue by the strength that well-tested faith brings to marriage? Or the ability of people to look to God for marital support? Or the stability it can bring to your family, and families who have never known stability? Or the fact that in the church community, you have a lot of support from people who are walking the same walk? Instead of making this into a loss, why aren’t we recognizing that not all relationships are healthy, equitable, spiritually beneficial, or respectful of people’s full selves and bodies? Why cant we acknowledge that the desire to be united in love with another person is just a shadow of human’s inherent desire to be united with God (and thus, the need of Christ)?

Sex is not the goal of marriage, and it honestly, it’s an unsubstantial basis for any kind of relationship. The reason people are called to wait is out of respect for God and his promises, and not because it is his will to cheat you on such a widespread human experience. This has nothing to do with being cheated. Understanding that God knows and wants what is best for you makes waiting an expression of love and worship, and strengthens the end result.