Archive for the ‘God’ Category

A Whole New World

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Paul sees himself standing at the cutting edge of the revolution. The death of Jesus has opened up a whole new world, and he is part of the team leading the way into unexplored territory. He is not only to announce, but also to embody the faithfulness of the creator God to his covenant and his world. He is thinking of Isaiah’s vision of Israel’s “servant” vocation and quoting from one of his favorite chapters, Isaiah 49: “I listened to you when the time was right; I came to your aid on the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2, quoting Isa. 49:8). The remainder of that verse in Isaiah goes on, “I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people.” Paul is not summarizing the “works contract” (Jesus takes our sin, and we take his “righteousness”). He is doing what Revelation is doing: celebrating the fact that Jesus’s reconciling death sets people free to take up their true vocation. The Messiah’s death gives to him, and by extension to all who follow Jesus, the vocation to be part of the ongoing divine plan, the covenant purpose for the whole world.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 82.

Unsystematic Truths

Monday, September 11th, 2017

But with Job easy answers are not possible. Implicit in the book is the lesson that theology must not try to be any clearer about God than God is about Himself. This is where so much fundamentalist religion goes astray, as it seeks to pin things down that are unpinnable, to systematize truths that by nature are unsystematic. Pharisees theologize the life out of truth. They are so wrapped up in expounding the Word of God that they forget it is the Word of God which expounds us.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 131-132

Inescapable Love

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

The notion of suffering as an offset for sin comes first of all, I think, from the satisfaction we feel when wrong comes to grief. We hate wrong, but, not being righteous ourselves, to a degree we cannot keep from hating the wronger as well. In this way the inborn justice of our nature passes over to evil. It is no pleasure to God, as it so often is to us, to see the wicked suffer. To regard any suffering with satisfaction, unless it be sympathetically with its curative quality, comes of evil and is a thing God is incapable of. His nature is always to forgive, and just because he forgives, he punishes. Because God is so altogether alien to wrong, because it is to him a heart-pain and trouble that one of his little ones should do the evil thing, there is, I believe, no extreme of suffering to which, for the sake of destroying the evil thing in them, he would not subject them. A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant. But there is no refuge from the love of God. That love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing.

“That hardly sounds like love,” you say. “It’s certainly not the sort of love I care about.”

No, how should you? How should any of us care for it until we begin to know it? But the eternal love will not be moved to yield us to the selfishess that is killing us. You may sneer at such a love, but the Son of God, who took the weight of that love and bore it through the world, is content with it, and so is everyone who truly knows it.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 261-262

Our Vocation

Friday, August 25th, 2017

The remarkable thing is that the Creator, having made the world to work in this way – with humans functioning like the “image” in a temple, standing between heaven and earth and acting on behalf of each in relation to the other – has not abandoned the project. Yes, it gets distorted again and again. But it remains the way the world was supposed to work – and the way in which, through the gospel, it will work once more. The powers that have stolen the worshipping hearts of the world and that have in consequence usurped the human rule over the world would like nothing better than for humans to think only of escaping the world rather than taking back their priestly and royal vocations.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 80

Your Own Name

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Forget the face of God, and you forget your own name is Beloved.

— Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 53

God as Father

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

My own circle of friends finally noticed that Jesus’ favorite image of God was Father (seventy times in the Gospels!). Jesus showed us in the Gospels what fatherhood meant to him: extravagant love, affirmation, affection and belonging. It meant scandalous forgiveness and inclusion. Jesus showed us this supernaturally safe, welcoming Father-love, extended to very messy people before they repented and before they had faith. Or better, he was actually redefining repentance and faith as simply coming to him, baggage and all, to taste his goodness and mercy. He didn’t seem to appreciate our self-loathing. The repentance he wanted was that we would welcome his kindness into our deepest needs and wounds.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel, p. 22

Good News!

Monday, August 7th, 2017

If the message that Jesus came to bring is that most people will actually spend an eternity experiencing the most horrible torment conceivable, well, to be honest, I can think of much better news than that! That theological vision does not strike me as good news at all. It certainly does not set my heart on fire with a joyous desire to share this news with as many people as I can. In fact, when I thought that this view of things was indispensable for Christianity, it made me feel anxious to think about and embarrassed to talk about. God, it seemed to me, had a dark side underneath the veneer of grace and goodness, contrary to how John summed up the meaning of Jesus’s message that “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

There is, however, a theological vision that does strike me as good news, indeed as the best news possible for the world. It is a vision that fills my heart and soul with grateful awe and joyful excitement. It is a vision that I believe is Christ-centered, biblically-grounded, spiritually-compelling, and life-inspiring. In this book, we are concerned with understanding and evaluating a specific Christian vision of God and God’s relationship to humanity known as Christian universalism. Although this view will be fleshed out throughout the book, we can define it initially and simply as the belief that ultimately every person will be saved through Christ.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 2

Faith Among the Shambles

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

In arguing with Job, their understandable concern is that in the depths of this man’s despair his thoughts seem to be irreverently taken up with the collapse of God’s good favor towards him, rather than with the collapse of his own faith. The supreme irony of this judgment is that really it is they who, by clinging to their theology of successful living or else, show themselves to be lacking faith in God, while Job, by honestly and passionately facing the shambles that his life has become, proves that in the pit of his heart he trusts his Lord.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 82

Healing Repentance

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Sin and suffering are not natural opposites. The opposite of evil is good, not suffering. The opposition of sin is not suffering, but righteousness. The path across the gulf that divides right from wrong is not the fire, but repentance.

If my friend has wronged me, will it console me to see him punished? Will that be a rendering to me of my due? What kind of friendship would I be ft for if that were possible, even with regard to my enemy? But would not the shadow of repentant grief, the light of reviving love on his face, heal it at once, however deep the hurt had been?

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, compiled by Michael Phillips, p. 259.

Very Different

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

The novel we sit down to write and the one we end up writing may be very different, just as the Jesus we grasp and the Jesus who grasps us may also differ.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 14