Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 9:06 PM
Whenever I walk into a room and see a group of people, I immediately size up the group. What conversation do I want to join? Who seems to be most interesting (or best looking)? Whose company do I enjoy most?
James 2 comes in and really blows this all to shreds -
2:1 My brothers,show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
Now, the issue for me isn't as much about rich versus poor, but I think the passage is just as applicable. The issue is the heart motive - do we judge one another and make unbiblical distinctions? Do we favor people in an attempt to get something out of them? That's what the world tells us. At Stanford, the common refrain is, "you're brushing shoulders with the future leaders of America, make sure you make the right connections, be good friends with the right people."
But as Christians, we live differently. We're not here to impress the rich and famous, to make the right friends, we live in faith of Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (v.1), and He's the one we ought to seek to please. That means we visit the widows and orphans, that means we throw the parties for the beggars, that means we take the effort to sit with the nerds and the dorks, the ones that are so awkward that no one really wants to befriend them lest they too be seen as social outcasts.
And I say this not as a nerd/dork hoping for more friends, but as a sinner, who secretly doesn't want to be labeled with that crowd. But what's so bad about about being associated with them? Why do I fear the judgment of fallen men more than I desire the praise of my glorious King?
1 Corinthians 1
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human beingmight boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of himyou are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Labels: Christian Living, James
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 10:38 AM
In the Bethlehem Baptist Elder Affirmation of Faith it says -
12.3 We believe that baptism is an ordinance of the Lord by which those who have repented and come to faith express their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, by being immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a sign of belonging to the new people of God, the true Israel, and an emblem of burial and cleansing, signifying death to the old life of unbelief, and purification from the pollution of sin.
If baptism an "expression of the union of Christ with His people," isn't it the case that God is the one who expresses that to us rather than the other way around? If that's the case, baptism of infants (provided they are of the covenant, which is another question) is entirely consistent with this view of baptism.
Monday, November 10, 2008 at 7:48 PM
I'm currently (re)reading through Driscoll's Confessions of a Reformission Rev. and one line totally blew me away. Talking about prayer and the necessity to have a prayer meeting, Driscoll pointed out that,"the prayer meeting will allow men motivated to become leaders to prove their committment by getting up early and marching forward on their knees"
Saturday, November 08, 2008 at 7:38 PM
Say that I have a friend with whom I have a bit of interaction. We're not super close, but members of the same community and church. Now, say that my brother wrongs me in a serious and deep way, such that I believe our relationship is irrevocably broken. I can't even look this person in the eye without getting spitting angry. I make plans to leave the church and move away, because I'm embittered and angry, disappointed that someone would treat me like this.
Another friend stops me, "wait a moment, the Bible commands you to forgive. You're sinning against him by not even seeking reconciliation."
Is it appropriate for me to say, "that's easy for you to say, you don't have to deal with the consequences of his sin"? Of course not, that would be evading the issue. Isn't it actually more the case that it's the fact that he isn't emotionally and personally committed to the situation (apart from being a friend) actually lends clarity
to his words?
true that it's easy for him to say, but the fact that it's easy to say does not make it false
As an aside, it's certainly true that we have to be careful and compassionate when we bring up difficult topics like personal sin. Job's friends sat with him for 7 days before giving him counsel in a remarkable show of compassion (Job 2:13).
Labels: Christian Living
Sunday, November 02, 2008 at 10:01 PM
In James 1:25, there's an interesting term that shows up: "law of liberty." 25
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
The focus of the passage is simple, don't be like the person who looks into a mirror and forgets what he looks like, but rather look into the law of liberty and persevere: do and not hear only.
But the phrase "law of liberty" is interesting, because it doesn't seem to fit here.
I can think of a couple different usages for "liberty" or "freedom" here-
1) Freedom from the condemnation of the law
2) Freedom from the power and bondage of sin
3) Freedom from the shadows of the ceremonial law
4) Freedom from requirements of the law for justification
But none of those really worked well here, mostly because it's described as the "law of liberty," so all the relationships to the law is out, and James here doesn't really seem to be talking about the bondage of sin or the condemnaion of sin.
So I thought of another possibility, one that probably isn't explicit anywhere but certainly implicit in various places -
The possibility I thought of was that the law of liberty sets us free from the anxieties of the future. No longer are we attempting to do something with an unknown outcome, but rather, we have a law from God. It states, "this is my way, walk in it"(Isaiah 30:21) and we can know that at the end of that path there is great reward, not only so, but we are "blessed in [our] doing." Many people work their entire lives just to get the fame, power, money and influence, but find themselves realizing those are absolutely worthless. Compared to that, the Lord has given us His laws that direct us and promise us that He rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6)
The law then isn't some burdensome thing that is difficult to follow. "His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3) and his "yoke is easy and [his] burden is light" (Matthew 11:30), but rather they free us and grant us confidence that at the end of perseverance, even during perseverance, there is great reward.
On the minus side, the difficulty of this view is that it makes it hard to fit in with the second usage of the "law of liberty" (James 2:12). Maybe another post in the future then.
But whatever the case, we shouldn't think of the law as
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