Archive for the ‘God’ Category

No Moral High Ground

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Richard Rohr says that the people who’ve truly experienced grace — meaning they’re not worthy of it and they still get it — are no longer in a position of being able to decide who “the deserving poor” are. When you realize that no one’s worthy and yet everyone receives (the practice of the church that illuminates this idea is the open table at the Eucharist), where’s the moral high ground that you stand on anymore? The only ground you get to stand on is the ground at the foot of the cross, with all the rest of us sinners. But it’s holy ground. It’s a position of standing in and among, and in solidarity with everyone, and singing praise to God. It’s a very different way of seeing Christianity, I think.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, p. 211

[Photo: Glenveagh, Ireland, July 2001]

Heavenward Door on the Latch

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

God loves not sorrow, yet rejoices to see a man sorrowful, for in his sorrow man leaves his heavenward door on the latch, and God can enter to help him.

— George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, p. 98

[Photo: Loch Ness, Scotland, July 10, 2003]

It’s About Love.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

This should not put us off. A world full of people who read and pray the Sermon on the Mount, or even a world with only a few such people in it, will always be a better place than a world without such people. Church history reminds us of the radical difference that can be made, that has been made, and that please God will be made. But the point is that once the revolution was launched on Good Friday, the vital work was already done. We do not have to win that essential victory all over again. What we have to do is to respond to the love poured out on the cross with love of our own: love for the one who died, yes, but also love for those around us, especially those in particular need. And part of the challenge of putting that into practice is that the powers, in whatever form, will be angry. They want to keep the world in their own grip. They will fight back.

N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 365-366

[Photo: Hug Point, Oregon, November 10, 2015]

As Though…

Friday, June 8th, 2018

In all this subject of death, there is an extraordinary narrowness in the views held generally, as though the fact of dying could change God’s unchanging purpose; as though his never-failing love were extinguished because we pass into a new state of existence; as though the power of Christ’s cross were exhausted in the brief span of our earthly life.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 213-214

More Life and Freedom

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

I really hate that Jesus’ Gospel is so much about death. I hate it. I wish that Jesus’ message was, Follow me and all your dreams of cash and prizes will come true; follow me and you’ll have free liposuction and winning lotto tickets for life. But obviously he’s not like that. Jesus says, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” He says, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first,” and infuriating things like “if you seek to find your life you will lose it but those who lose their life will find it.” And every single time I die to something — my notions of my own specialness, my plans and desires for something to be a very particular way — every single time I fight it and yet every single time I discover more life and more freedom than if I had gotten what I wanted.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, p. 186-187

[Photo: Hug Point, Oregon, November 10, 2015]

Pleased with Us

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

God would seem to be too occupied in being unable to take Her eyes off of us to spend any time raising an eyebrow in disapproval. What’s true of Jesus is true for us, and so this voice breaks through the clouds and comes straight at us. “You are my Beloved, in whom I am wonderfully pleased.” There is not much “tiny” in that.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 20

[Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012]

Being Reconciled to God – Not the Other Way Around

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Think about Good Friday. Where do we find God during the suffering of Christ? Do we find God in the high priest Caiaphas demanding a sacrificial scapegoat? Do we find God in Pontius Pilate requiring a punitive death to satisfy imperial justice? No! On Good Friday we find God in Christ absorbing the sin of the world and responding with forgiveness. The cross is where God receives the most vicious blow of human sin, turns the other cheek, and forgives. The apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.” This should not be misunderstood as God reconciling himself to the world. It wasn’t God who was alienated toward the world; it was the world that was alienated toward God. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to change God’s mind about us; Jesus died on the cross to change our minds about God! It wasn’t God who required the death of Jesus; it was humanity that cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” When the world says, “Crucify him,” God says, “Forgive them.”

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 85

[Photo: Skerries, Ireland, July 2001]

True Meaning of Sacrifice

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Christ’s self-offering must define the true meaning of sacrifice, as opposed to letting the symbols of sacrifice define the reality of what Jesus did. Reversing these is the quickest path to paganizing the sacrifice of Christ. Christ doesn’t get his meaning from the symbols; the symbols derive their meaning from him, even when they predate his own sacrifice.

The meaning Christ attributes to sacrifice is simply this: laying one’s life down for someone else (I John 3:16). Anyone who gives their life to rescue another — whether it’s a fireman dying while pulling someone from a flaming building; a policeman who’s fatally wounded while rescuing a hostage; or a martyr stoned to death for preaching the good news — is ‘paying the ultimate price.’ Here, the metaphors are off the table. Here, sacrifice (laying down your life) is raw actuality — the events as they really happened.

Notice that this type of sacrifice has nothing to do with punishment, payment, retribution or appeasement. In every case, a life is given for the sake of the other, not to satisfy someone’s wrath or placate their anger, but as a life-giving, life-saving sacrifice.

When God sent his Son to earth to restore the planet, the sacrifice — his life, his death — was the costly offering of self-giving love. But unlike the fireman, policeman or martyr, Jesus’ sacrificial death allows him to rescue even the dead as well, because he brings them with him back from the grave!

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 256-257

[Photo: Sunset from Waterside Inn, Chincoteague, Virginia, October 2016]

God Does Not Give Up

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

It is impossible for me to believe that the God revealed in Jesus will at some point simply throw up his hands in defeat or harden his heart in retaliation.

To anticipate an issue we will discuss later on, why is death often seen as the deadline for receiving salvation? If God loves all people and desires for all to be saved, as scripture seems to clearly assert (I Peter 3:9) and as most Christians (besides Calvinists) would agree, then why would God’s attitude towards people change upon physical death? Why would God go from actively desiring and working for a person’s salvation in this life, and yet be content to give that person over to the rebellion forever in the life to come? Why wouldn’t God keep doing all that he could do to try to get through to that person?

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 27-28

[Photo: Leithöfe, Germany, May 2, 1997]

Community

Monday, May 21st, 2018

My friend Sara says that the really inconvenient thing about being Christian is the fact that God is revealed in other people, and other people are annoying. I understand the impulse of not wanting to be in community. I can’t argue with that. But I think the experience of bumping up against other people has changed me in ways that I never could have been changed if I was just reading books and practicing meditation. We don’t get to be Christians on our own. It’s really inconvenient, and I wish there were a different setup for that. But that’s what we were handed.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, p. 207-208

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, on the property of Gateway Community Church, April 24, 2016]