This week I found these posts made me pause and think more deeply about how my faith intersects with society. I hope they do the same for you.
From Brian Zahnd, pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO:
One of the most remarkable things about the earliest Christians is that they didn’t try to hide, downplay, or gloss over the fact that the One they worshiped as King of Kings had been crucified. Paul says things like, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The early Christian hymn that Paul quotes in his letter to the Philippian church doesn’t merely say Jesus died, but that he was crucified. The earliest Christian creed doesn’t flinch from confessing that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified. For Christians living at such a far remove from the first century, the depth of this scandal may be hard to grasp, but your hero being crucified would be the last thing a Jew or a Roman living in antiquity would boast about. And yet the early Christians did boast about it. Paul readily admitted that this was foolishness to Romans and offensive to Jews. But Paul also said it was the power and wisdom of God, contending that “God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” Paul doesn’t mean that when God is weak, God is still stronger than humans. That wouldn’t be scandalous, that would be just a typical boast about conventional power. Rather Paul is saying that God’s power is weakness! Think about that for a moment and you will realize that such an assertion is still scandalous today. We are fascinated by conventional power — power to purchase, power to enforce our will, power to kill — and we are put off by any form of powerlessness. But it is precisely the powerlessness of God enacted by Jesus on the cross that saves the world.
From Rich Villodas, pastor of New Life Fellowship in Queens NY:
“The church is not to be found at the ‘center’ of a left/right political world. The church is to be a species of its own kind, confounding left, right, and middle, and finding its identity from the ‘center’ of God’s life.”
Then from Michael Gonzalez, a theological in Philadelphia:
Jesus does not serve the agenda of peace and unity. Jesus demands loyalty to the reign of God.
Michael later posed this question:
How come verses like, “”You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” never become Bible verses of the day?
And finally, a sad observation made by Dr. Chuck DeGroat, a reformed pastor in Michigan who also serves as associate professor of counseling and pastoral care at Western Theological Seminary. He posted this on October 8th.
“Today, while a kidnapping plot was revealed related to the Governor of MI, a pastor had his ministry hijacked by a powerful and wealthy contingent who threatened to leave, bankrupting the church.
Not over the Trinity. Or worship styles.
But over… masks.
He shared Gal 5 and 1 Cor 9 to no avail. Their imagination has NOT been shaped by St Paul’s self-giving notion of freedom but American freedom. Ayn Rand, not Jesus.
Before he packed his office, he confessed his failure of discipleship to them. He sacrificed his ego to repent.”
We live in strange times with pressures on every side. I personally find it helpful meditate on short thoughts these days. I also feel it’s important to discern carefully to whom I listen yet purposefully listen to people or sources that make me uncomfortable. It’s good for me to be surrounded by an array of godly voices and perspectives.
I’m learning a lot.
I hope of these thoughts will do the same for you.