What Ever Happened To Mystery?

What ever happened to mystery?

Have we lost the beauty of the riddle?

The enigma?

The things that can’t be explained?

What ever happened to mystery?

Since when did it become an asset

To define things until they are devoid of life?

Of heart?

Of Being?

But what if…

What if Life can’t be laid out in tables and spreadsheets?

Labels and lists?

Systems and schedules?

What if Life is mystery?

If we lose mystery, we lose Life.

We lose the King come as a baby.

We lose victory through vulnerability.

If we lose mystery, we lose Him.

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Torn Allegiances

I am watching the “John Adams” HBO miniseries based on David McCullough’s book of the same name, and I am really enjoying it. I’m intrigued by the personal relationships and “bartering” between John Adams and representatives from the other colonies, in order for John to convince them to get on board with the Revolution. I am impressed and encouraged by the relationship between John and his wife Abigail. They were truly a couple who discussed ideas, built one another up, and held onto each other in hard times. John often sought the advice of Abigail through letters, truly seeing her as an equal. I am swept up in the moment, whether it is wondering if a child will live through a disease breakout, or watching anxiously as John gets the votes he needs to move on to the next step of the Revolution. I cheer every time we get one step closer to the founding of America.

And yet I am torn, because I know that soon I will be cheering for people shooting and killing one another. I am torn, because in a very real way, violence was integral to the founding of our country. The colonies fought the Revolutionary War from 1775-1783, and we’ve been fighting ever since. (Think that’s an overstatement? Google “List of United States Wars”, or something similar.) Or we could look at it from a more contemporary point of view-I turned 33 on Monday. We have been at war for over 20 of those 33 years. Well over half of my life, America has been at war.

So I am torn. Torn between my appreciation for our country, and my love for peace.

But then a greater Truth occurs to me. I have an identity that is far more fundamental for who I am than the identification of “American”. That identity is not founded on war. That identity is founded on “Love God” and “Love your neighbor”. That identity is founded on “Blessed are the peacemakers” and “the meek shall inherit the earth”. That identity is founded on “Love your enemy and bless those who persecute you”. That identity is founded on the sacrificial love found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

See, far more fundamental than being an American, I am a part of the Body of Christ, and that is an allegiance that I can cheer for without reservation.

New Creation (The Meaning of Resurrection #4)

In the first post in this series, we explored what resurrection really is. In our second post, we discussed how the foundational meaning of the resurrection is that Jesus is King over everything and everyone. In the latest post, we talked about how the resurrection means salvation from our sins, and new life.

In this last post of the series, we will look at the idea that if we are followers of Jesus, what happened to him will happen to us. What happened in Jesus’ resurrection is a glimpse of the New Creation. Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 15 that Jesus is the firstfruits of those who are already asleep. What Paul is saying here is that Jesus was the first to be resurrected, but that we shall be resurrected as well. What happened to Jesus will happen to us.

Taking that into consideration, there are a few implications we can draw out from looking at Jesus’ resurrection. First, our resurrection will be physical. Remember the place we started in this series: Jesus’ resurrection was physical. There was an empty tomb. Thomas touched Jesus’ hands and side (which still had the scars; might there be a sermon in the idea that our resurrected bodies might still bear the scars of our love?).  Luke says Jesus ate after he was raised. So Jesus’ resurrection was physical, and ours will be too.

At the same time, our resurrection will be a different kind of physical than what we know now. We know that there will be no sickness or disease in the New Creation. But even beyond this, we seem to see Jesus walking through a locked door, and also covering distances that can’t be covered in the time given. So, while our resurrection will be physical, it seems to be a different kind of physical than what we know now.

Perhaps the most revolutionary idea is that with Jesus’ resurrection, New Creation has already begun. It is not complete yet, of course. Jesus will come back and ultimately come back and restore everything. But we get glimpses of it even now. The spheres of heaven and earth are overlapping, and New Creation has already begun. We see a hint of this in the book of John. Continue reading

From Death To Life (The Meaning of Resurrection #3)

In our first post in the series, we explored what resurrection really is. In our last post, we discussed how the foundational meaning of the resurrection is that Jesus is King over everything and everyone.

In this post we will explore what is probably the most understood and common meaning of the resurrection: salvation. Probably the earliest summary of the Gospel that we have, in the New Testament or otherwise, is what Paul says in 1st Corinthians 15:2-5: “By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared…” Jesus died for our sins, Jesus was buried, Jesus was raised, and Jesus made public appearances–this is the Gospel.

If you think about it, all four of those events-death, burial, resurrection, appearances-rise or fall with the resurrection. Of course the death was needed and necessary, but the death without the resurrection is incomplete, imperfect, perhaps even a failure. The burial happened to show that Jesus was really dead, so that when he was raised, there would be no mistaking the miracle. And the appearances were to confirm that Jesus really was alive after he really was dead. The earliest summary of the Gospel, by which we are saved, revolves around the resurrection.

In Romans 5, Paul talks about how sin entered the world through one man, and when sin entered the world, so did death. Continue reading

Here Is Your King! (The Meaning of Resurrection #2)

In our last post, we explored what resurrection really is. In the next few posts, we will discover what Jesus’ resurrection really means, and why it matters if we believe it or not.

This first idea that flows out of the resurrection is the foundation for all the other reasons the resurrection is important. The idea is this: the resurrection confirms that Jesus was exactly who he was thought to be, the messiah-king Israel had been waiting for. Israel had been expecting a messiah-who-would-be-king to come and rescue them. Jesus’ resurrection shows that he was this messiah-king that Israel was waiting for.

We see the resurrection as confirmation of Jesus as messiah over and over again in Paul’s writing.  We see it maybe most explicitly in Ephesians 1:20-22. Paul is saying that the power we can have is the same power God exerted “when he raised the Messiah from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet…” We know Jesus is the all-powerful Messiah-king because God raised him from the dead and seated him on his heavenly throne. As a result of the resurrection all things, all other powers are put under Jesus’ feet. Death is defeated. Satan and the powers of evil are all beaten. With the resurrection, Jesus is truly Lord over all.

Paul makes this idea foundational to the whole book of Romans, when at the beginning he says that Jesus was “appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus the Messiah, our Lord.”

But why did the people of the New Testament need more confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah-king? Because there had been other messiahs; at least, other would-be messiahs. Remember the story in Acts 5:12 and following. Continue reading

What We Talk About When We Talk About Resurrection (The Meaning of Resurrection #1)

With Easter coming up in a month or so, I wanted to take some time to look at the idea of resurrection and what that really means. I have already written about why I think we have good reason to believe Jesus’ resurrection is actually a historical event-something that happened in real life, in a certain city, to a certain man at a certain time. In this series of posts, I want to draw out the implications of the Easter events. In a sense, it is the “so what” of the Easter story. What is the real meaning of Jesus’ resurrection?

Before we can go there, though, we need to make sure we are all thinking similar things when we hear the word “resurrection”. We need to make sure we know what we are talking about when we talk about resurrection.

When thinking about the idea of resurrection, it might seem simple enough to just say something like “Jesus lived after he died”. Jesus lived on earth as a man for around 30 years. Then Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. Then he lived again. This is resurrection.

There’s only one problem with this. There were many religions in Jesus’ time that believed a person’s spirit lived on after a person died. To say that Jesus lived after he died would not be a unique claim. Continue reading

Getting Married At The Grammy’s

As most of you probably know by now, Sunday night at the Grammy’s, 33 couples, both homosexual and heterosexual, were married in a ceremony, in a faux church, with Queen Latifah presiding. With Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and others singing in the background, the couples exchanged rings.  As the singing and ceremony ended, the crowd was on their feet with applause, cheers and tears.

Monday morning, article after article appeared on the internet, some approving, some calling it propaganda, some calling it anti-Christian and leftist. Many wrote about how they wished a music awards show could simply be about music. Christian responses ranged from being disappointed to calling the whole thing demonic.

I didn’t see the ceremony live, but I have since watched it. My immediate reaction: “Why are we surprised?”

For the better part of at least 40 years American Christians have been pulling out of society, creating our own Continue reading