Monday, August 29, 2005

The Reason I Didn't Mention!

Last night in Connexion I tried to convince you that the study of theology, specifically the doctrine of God is essential for the Christian life. This is true because you cannot be in relationship with someone you don't know anything about, so knowing about God, theology, is necessary for a relationship with God. Moreover, it is not boring, but our joy and the best fuel for genuine, passionate worship. Finally, it is relevant. Knowing God is foundational for all other knowing and for living the Christian life.

However, last night I left out another crucial reason why we must take the task of growing in our knowledge of God seriously. That reason is obedience! Peter says,
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18, ESV). Notice, this is a command. Moreover, the author of Hebrews chastises his readers because they are still living of "spiritual milk" (the basics) when the should be on to "solid food" (deeper truths about God and the gospel" and should be teachers by now.

So, why study the doctrine of God? Why study theology? Because our great and loving God has commanded it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

God, the fountain and the ocean

I just finished an incredible book, a classic, by Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism. The book forced me to think about Christianity in relation to a number of things I don't typically think about - politics, science, and art. It's not that I don't think about them, but Kuyper makes you think not just about current events or trends, but about how Christianity gave rise to democracy, modern science, and inspires true beauty. Here is an excerpt I found particularly profound.

The starting point of every motive in religion is God and not Man. Man is the instrument and means, God alone is here the goal, the point of departure and the point of arrival, the fountain, from which the waters flow, and at the same time, the ocean into which they finally return. To be irreligious is to forsake the highest aim of our existence, and on the other hand to covet no other existence than for the sake of God, to long for nothing but for the will of God, and to be wholly absorbed in the glory of the name of the Lord, such is the pith and kernel of all true religion. "Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done," is the threefold petition, which gives utterance to all true religion. Our watchword must be, "Seek first the kingdom of God," and after that, think of you own need. First stands the confession of the absolute Sovereignty of the Triune God' for of Him, through Him, and unto Him are all things. And therefore our prayer remains the deepest expression of all religious life. This is the fundamental conception of religion as maintained by Calvinism, and hitherto, no one has ever found a higher conception. For no higher conception can be found. The fundamental thought of Calvinism, at the same time the fundamental thought of the Bible, and of Christianity itself, leads, in the domain of religion, to the realization of the highest ideal.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Caring for our Siblings in Christ

This morning I read Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25). What a challenging passage of Scripture! Certainly we are called to show love and compassion on all our neighbors, but Jesus seems to expect that this will be more true of our Christian brothers and sisters. In other words, we carry an even greater responsibilty for our Christian family. This is evident in the words Jesus uses at the end of his commendation of the sheep. Jesus said, " you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (v. 40). It is clear that Jesus has in mind acts of kindness shown to our spiritual family - our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Another incredible truth that we shouldn't pass over in this verse is Jesus' identifying with his people. In a similar way, Jesus says to Paul (Saul) "why do you persecute me?" Meditate on that for a minute and let that sink deep way down. Jesus identifies with his people. To act in kindness to them is to act in kindness to Jesus. Failing to do so is a failing to be kind to Jesus himself.

There are certainly opportunities to act in kindness to brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering half a world away (for ideas you can visit Voice of the Martyrs). However, wouldn't it be better to open our eyes and see how we can serve our brothers and sisters in Christ right here. It's not like there aren't hurting Christians on the IU campus - Christians going through incredibly difficult times at home, Christians struggling under the pressure of a living with non-Christian roomates, etc. Keep Jesus' words in mind this week and let's strive to serve the "the least of these", our brothers and sisters in Christ.