Passion Week

I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross.The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’

In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world.  But each time after a while I have had to turn away.

9780857215932And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his.

John Stott, Through the Bible through the Year 269.

For whom do you work?

Today, a wise person said to me, “I work for the Lord. He doesn’t have to pay me because he has already paid.”

Reminds me of Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV): “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

I probably need lots of reminders!

“Son of God”

As we come to Matthew 14:15-36, we see two crucial miracles which have been much pondered.  The first, of course, is the feeding of the five thousand; and the second is Jesus walking on the water.

C.S. Lewis considered these miracles to be (in one sense) very different from each other.

Walker Feeding of the 5000
Dirk A. Walker, “Feeding of the 5000” [link].
The feeding of the five thousand was a miracle which repeated, at a specific time and a specific place, what God does everywhere, all the time:

[T]he two instances of miraculous feeding . . . . involve the multiplication of a little bread and a little fish into much bread and much fish. . . .  Every year God makes a little corn into much corn: the seed is sown and there is an increase. . . .

Look down into every bay and almost every river.  The swarming, undulating fecundity shows he is still at work “thronging the seas with spawn innumerable” . . . .  And now, that day, at the feeding of the thousands, incarnate God does the same: does close and small, under his human hands, a workman’s hands, what He has always been doing in the seas, the lakes and the little brooks.

C.S.Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study 164-65 (MacMillan 1947).

In the multiplication of the bread and the fishes, Jesus shows himself to be doing what God does all the time.  Lewis calls this a “Miracle of the Old Creation.”

Continue reading “Son of God”

In praise of dissent

metaxas[T]his morning I ask you to ask yourself: do I know and respect people who have different views than I do on the hot button topics of today? Do I have friends who are pro-choice and pro-life? Do I have friends who are for gay marriage and friends who are against gay marriage? Or don’t I think people on the other side of these issues are worthy of my respect? Do I think they must simply be avoided — and perhaps for the good of all even silenced altogether?
Eric Metaxas, Sewanee Convocation Speech (February 10, 2015).
Without irony, I confess I do not always agree with Eric Metaxas, but this is a very nice speech on the importance of viewpoint tolerance and understanding in a democratic society.  Somehow, I think this is about recognizing the image of God in others.

God’s rights, and ours

Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” but it is easy to kid ourselves that he makes no demands whatsoever.  The dividing line between believer and non-believer isn’t a matter of fine theological detail, or practical living as a kind, loving person, it is recognition that the Creator has a right to ask something of me that I do not want to give, and that my compliance is flawed.  The fine theological details come in deciding what he actually requires.  The practical living comes in deciding whether I will give it, and what needs to be done when I fail or rebel.