Thursday, June 26, 2008

The beauty of the Lord is in union- an aesthetic reflection on marriage.

Recently I made a trip to Lake of the Woods, Kenora to celebrate the marriage of my cousin and his girlfriend. With the modern attitude towards marital vows, covenant, trustworthiness and the human sexuality this marriage stood as an imperial, glorious reaction. It was a conundrum, a problematic wedding, a thorn in the side of Western values. This wedding ought not to have occurred, the very act of its exchange was so strikingly holy it panged all of our amorality, it was our judgment. This wedding was the judgment of the modern human consciousness, a Christological triumph over the devil and how he has blasphemed and polluted the God-ordained sacrament. The devil would have marital union so fraught with destruction and filth, homosexal agendas, continuous patterns of divorce or the simple choice of a couple not to marry whatsoever; that perhaps God would withdraw His hand from understanding.

Yet it was the very acknowledgment of God, of our glorious God during this marriage, the silent affirmation of both individuals over wilderness and lake and cloud and storm, the recognition of covenant, of Christ and the church, that in one act silenced a hundred years of demonic effort. As the humble preacher led us through prayer, his attitude drawn heavenward to the transcendant sacredness of what we were observing, firm peals of thunder rumbled from overhead. One could almost reach out past the pedestal, and grasp the presence of God over the rain-spattered lake. God was there, there as observer, there to initiate, there to bless, there to judge in His mercy. Not as if our acknowledgment of God in marriage was the initiative of the blessing and presence of God. God's acknowledgment of us was our acknowledgment of Him. God always gives the First Word, God always gives the Final Word. We were caught up into the grace of God as marriage was articulated in the precise manner as He so wished, and this precision silenced us. I will take a risk and call my beloved friends and relatives by name: Justin and Bobby were co-partakers, co-laborers with Christ in proving once for all that marriage belongs to Christ and always will belong to Him... causa finita est.

Monday, June 16, 2008

An atheist gives good theology II

I was carrying out a lengthy dialogue with atheists on why the acceptance of the gospel means the abandonment of reason. They kept prodding me to display some proves for God; I was adamant that the only 'proof' for God is Christ, accepted by faith. One atheist joined the discussion and responded," And how could experimental proof of a god dethrone him? Surely he is not so weak." Precisely the point of the gospel message. The gospel is a devastation of experiment, of proof, of the human conception of strength. We come to know God in the weakness of God on the cross. God offers His proof to us in weakness and absurdity; in absolute maddening love. In the same event of knowing God in His weakness, in foolishness; we know Him in His absolute power, wisdom and strength. The weakness of God is the very coronation of God; His very dignity and kingliness. As Paul expounds in Phillipians 2:8-11 God,"Being found in appearance as a man.. humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Vindication in condemnation, kingliness in servitude, exaltation in humility, glory in shame. Who would have thought that the event of the condemnation of a simple Jewish man would be the cosmic coronation, the most powerful enthronement in eternity; the declaration of God?

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than mans wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than mans strength." (1 Corinthians 1:25)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Recieving God.

Today was Fathers day. Out of love for my wonderful dad I blended ice together to create a sort of quasi-snow, packed it all together and placed some pepsis snugly into the center. Growing up in the household my Father and I have exploited the rare occasions of snowfall by packing cans of pepsi in the bank and enjoying them extra cold.

When my father had seen what I had done, he laughed and offered a semi-decline," I cannot son. This is great, but I'm already full up from beverages at dinner. Give me half."

"What Father? Will you slight my gift? I insist you drink it whole!". He laughed and we enjoyed cold pepsis out on the deck.

As we were drinking, the force of God's gift of salvation hit me; the very quality of salvation as gift. God has offered me eternal reconciliation through a covenant of love in Christ; offered it in love and apart from what I have done. The greatest part of this gift is its essence; salvation is not something secular, exterior to the being of God. Salvation [i]is God[/i] Himself, God in Christ, God the Spirit offered to us to live in love with the Tri-une relationship. We are caught up into the divine, invited to the communion of the Lord who governs the universe. This all offered to wicked man, by grace. Am I slighting His gift? Am I willing to grab at some, and not the whole? Am I hurting God by grabbing what is desirable from salvation, from Christ but leaving the discomfiting parts of suffering and obedience? To take only a part of the gift is the slight of all slights; and it is also impossible to do. God cannot be divided into portions lesser then Himself and distributed at the volition and taste of the reciever. Either you recieve God in full or you don't. Either you recieve Christ in full or you reject Him, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ." (Collosians 1:9)

To accept God's gift of life truly, also means to accept God's gift of death, truly, simultaneously and inseperably. To accept the cross of Christ means to bear the cross of Christ. To partake in His life completely means partaking in His death completely. We cannot have resurrection without crucifixion. We cannot live to God without dying to self. Living eternally to God means dying eternally to self. And the grandeur of the offer is its pouring out again and again on the reciever. Daily we die, daily we are raised to life. The greater the shame, the greater the glory. Is it not absolutely lovely and beautiful that God's revelation is paradoxical? Does that not shame all our wisdom and pride? Our reason and rationality?

Let us eagerly recieve the fullness of God's gift, because as is repeated again and again in Ephesians one this is to His glory. This pleases Him. A Father is pleased when His son merely recieves the gift, even if the gratitude mustered is not perfect. Our enjoyment of the gift is the Fathers greatest pleasure. Let us learn to enjoy the fullness of what God has given us; Himself.

Do not despair. Whatever is in you that ought not to be there, that discourages you and seems impossible to obliterate, is there for the purchase at the cross.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is swearing acceptable? An eschatological perspective

"Because of these, the wrath of God is coming." (Collosians 3:6)

Our life in Christ is a here and now, a life for the present, a kingdom in and among us. Nevertheless, such a present state of being dwells within the polar forces of the death and resurrection past, and the coming advent of Christ as King and Judge in the future. We draw from both wellsprings, acts inseperable from the eternal reality that is Christ. At the cross and resurrection of Christ we collide with the God of love through faith and repentance. With this in one hand we are nourished with the hope of eternal life under the reign of Jesus Christ in the future, just as we may look to the future reign and find hope in the cross and resurrection of the past. God as Christ is fully revealed in both acts, which supposes a unity of the two. In the tension and unity of both acts we find our being in the now. Nevertheless, the disclosure of God has always been called a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Bearing the fullness of the weight of God's love in Christ, penetrating the most hardened of hearts in redeeming grace, is the fullness of the weight of God's wrath on Christ, our judgment. The advent of Christ to restore the world and save mankind is also and in the same act an advent to destroy the world and obliterate mankind. It is no slip that Jesus often affirms the guilt of man upon His arrival in the gospel of John. Which side of the sword is your tongue choosing?

The passage quoted up top from Pauls letter to Collosae deals with God's revelation of Christ as wrath in the coming advent. The sword is flipped by a looking back to the love of Christ at the cross and leaving sin in the past act. One such sins that must be put to death is filthy language from the lips (v.8). The presence of it fosters the contingency of God's coming wrath. The projection of a filthy mouth is in itself a projection, a heralding of God's judgment. As Paul later says," The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them." (1 Timothy 5:24). On the other hand, the projection of purity presupposes the coming grace and restoration of Christ, the giving of eternal life (Romans 2:7). Fortunately, in all things mercy triumphs over judgment, the side of love shines brighter than the pitch of wrath. Right now, as in some form all of us are presupposing the coming judgment, God's love offers us to step up to the cross, again and again, and die to ourselves, with the promise of the Spirit that offers us new life every day.

I need to be more careful with my lips and what comes from them, and for that I need the determination of God's grace on the cross to kill me. May He do the same for you. And He has.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

An atheist gives good theology

A few days ago I was debating with an atheist on the justice and mercy of God. He could not wrap his head around why God would reward someone with eternal life for believing and punish them with eternal death for disobeying. In frustration he retorted," Your God is operating on the level of the pettiest of humans!" Precisely the point of Christianity. Little did he know that his words contained a concise explication of the fulcrum of God's revelation: Christ. Christ is God acting on the level of the pettiest of humans, Christ is God among the lowest of lows, associating with sinners and dying an accursed death. And may we all be thankful that God works among the lowest of us (and for that reason makes the gospel very simple), that all might be saved.