Jesus’ humility, Satan’s pride: whom do we follow?

Jesus' humility

Ecce Homo (Behold! The Man) / Antonio Ciseri, 1871. “The humble king they named a fraud, and sacrificed the Lamb of God.”

God is all-powerful, but when he chose to use his power to become a man, he also chose not to use power like other men. It is Satan who turns power into something coercive and egocentric.

It would be nice if we could say that Christians understand the situation and exercise power as Jesus did. Unfortunately, we can truthfully say no more than that some do, and they successfully imitate Christ maybe only some of the time.

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Universal brotherhood?

Interfaith unity?

Interfaith unity?

Many people in the church today simply assume that all humanity is one large family, with God as its Father. They take offense at the thought that maybe some people are not God’s children.

Do they realize that they are taking offense at Jesus himself? Oh well. Religious people have always found Jesus offensive.

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Being spiritually dressed

Paul had quite a lot to say about clothing. No, I don’t mean any comment that could be taken as a dress code. We all have earthly clothing. We have to take it off from time to time to wash both it and our bodies. It wears out and we have to repair or replace it. Spiritual clothing is different. We need to have that on at all times. We are already clean, and spiritual clothing can never wear out or become soiled.

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

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Christian warfare: where pacifism is not an option

Did you know that all of us are at war, and there’s nothing we can do but fight or surrender? I’m not talking about Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere the U.S. military is active, ever has been, or ever will be.

Jesus Christ, the rightful Lord of the universe, has a rebellion on his hands. The rebel, named Satan, captured the human race by deceit at the beginning of time and rules as the god of this world. He can’t win, but his final defeat hasn’t yet occurred.

Whatever else it means, this spiritual warfare happens within each of our minds.

“Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all of your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.”–1 Peter 1:13, NRSV.… Read the rest

God’s love and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami


How can we reconcile God’s love with disasters? For a couple of weeks now, the news media have brought us new images of the disaster in Japan: the worst earthquake there on record, a tsunami that struck the coast within 15 minutes and that caused a nuclear catastrophe worse than any other except Chernobyl. We have probably all received multiple reminders to pray for Japan, and I hope this post will serve as another, but I want to consider the question of how a loving God can allow such devastation.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’   “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.… Read the rest

The weapons of our warfare

“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” — 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NKJV)

The church today is divided over many issues, including war. Christians who are against any and all wars for any and all reasons usually dislike hymns like “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Do dedicated pacifists greet scriptures that talk about “our warfare” with equal comfort and disapproval? I hope not.

Neither hymn nor the scriptures have anything to do with the kind of war where people take up arms for the purpose of killing people on the other side. Regardless of what anyone thinks of American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, or any other war, “our warfare” is something else entirely.… Read the rest

Learning what Satan is like–the hard way

I suppose not many readers spend much time with 1 or 2 Kings or 1 or 2 Chronicles. That’s too bad, because the stories in the Old Testament often provide clear pictures off New Testament truths. Amaziah, a king of Judah who served God half-heartedly, illustrates what happens to the double-minded man mentioned in James 1:6-8.

This post will comment on the time when he was afraid that his army wasn’t strong enough for a war he wanted to make against Edom. He hired mercenaries from Israel, but then a prophet said if he let them fight, he would lose.

Amaziah fussed a bit about the money he had already paid for the Israelite soldiers, but before he went to war, he dismissed them.… Read the rest

Judas

“What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. — Matthew 26:15

What was Judas thinking? He had followed Jesus as one of the twelve chosen apostles for three years. He had received teaching not trusted to outsiders. He had not only seen miracles but performed them under Jesus’ tutelage.

He had been present when Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. From that time on, he must have known that whenever he looked at Jesus, he saw the face of God.

John’s gospel points out that Judas kept the money  for the group.… Read the rest

Why everything–anything–goes wrong

“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “adam.” — Genesis 5:1 (NIV, marginal reading)

It is best to regard Adam and Eve not so much the first individuals as generic humanity. Both male and female are “adam,” and God intended them to be the god of this world. His answer to Job in Job 38-42 then is not the mean-spirited rant it may first appear. It is the job description of the god of this world, which he intended the human race collectively to fulfill.… Read the rest

Herod–and us

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he  had learned from the Magi.” — Matthew 2:16 (NIV)

Christmas, it seems, ought to be such a beautiful time. We celebrate the birth of a darling baby to wholly admirable parents. A bright star shone. The angels sang. The shepherds left their flocks to see the baby. Magi came from a great distance to offer gifts fit for a king.… Read the rest