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The Jesus Life

John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, makes things simple for us. He writes:

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:12)

The logic here is indeed simple. Jesus equals life. No Jesus, no life. While the logic is not hard to follow, the challenging question is this: what is this life John talks about? Jesus himself said he is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). What is this life we have in Jesus? What is this life Jesus embodies? This eternal life, everlasting life, abundant life, resurrection of life, bread of life, Spirit-giving life, light of life, self-giving life, what is it? There are obviously those around us who do not “have the Son,” they do not acknowledge Jesus in any form, and yet they have some form of life. They at least have biological life, intellectual life, a social life, etc. So what is this life Jesus talks about?

I tried to take a stab at understanding this Jesus life in my book on the Apostles’ Creed, as I reflected on the last line of the creed, “I believe….in the life everlasting.” Here is my attempt at making sense of the subject of life:

Although we may lack the ability to clearly define life, we can see it when contrasted to death. We clearly understand the finality and termination of death. Whenever any animated person or thing loses animation, we say it is dead. Death is the end of existence. Batteries die; toys die; dogs die; people die. If death is the end of existence then life is the presence of existence. We can nearly all agree we avoid death because it is bad. Humanity continues searching for an existence free of death, a life everlasting, because death undermines everything we consider important and precious. (Primal Credo, pg. 153)

Life is the “presence of existence,” but it is more than mere existence. We can find some help from the world of Greek philosophy. Aristotle used a word, which for him was the goal of human existence. The word was eudaimonia. It is difficult to translate into English. It used to be translated “happiness,” but a more accurate translation may be “human flourishing,” that is, “reaching your full human potential.” What Aristotle called “human flourishing,” Jesus called “life” and it is only available in Christ. He is the full embodiment of this life, so we can rightly call it the Jesus life. It is the ability to become fully alive and reach one’s full human potential physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, etc.

The bigger question on most people’s mind may not be “what is life?” but “how do we experience it?” The best way to answer that question may be in the form of a mathematical formula. The Jesus way plus the Jesus truth equals the Jesus life. In other words you have to both confess the truth about Jesus and walk the way of Jesus in order to experience the Jesus life.

The truth about Jesus is that he is God’s son and our Lord. This truth we confess in the Apostles’ Creed. Jesus is God’s Son, God’s only son, eternally begotten of the Father. As the Son of God he is the “spittin’ image of his father.” He is not another god or a created god, but he is fully God. He is God’s son and his is our Lord. We do not make Jesus Lord by any act of prayer or confession on our part. Rather God made Jesus Lord when he raised him from the dead. God made Jesus Lord (which means boss, master, ultimate authority) over the entire planet. When we confess this to be true, we are pledging our allegiance to Jesus.

Some people want the Jesus life by only confessing the Jesus truth. They wrongly assume if they just say a prayer or cry out to Jesus that BOOM they begin to experience the Jesus life all at once. But this is not true. Confessing the Jesus truth is not enough to experience the Jesus life, because the Jesus way plus the Jesus truth equals the Jesus life.

It is easy to accept the Jesus truth. It is hard to walk the Jesus way.

The Jesus way is the trail Jesus blazed for us. It is the new way to live as a human being. The trail head is the two-fold command to love God and love neighbor and the signposts are the beatitudes he proclaimed in Matthew 5. While the Jesus way includes all Jesus taught, you could sum up the Jesus way in looking at Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5, 6, & 7. In this sermon we could describe the Jesus way like this:

The Jesus way is the way of peace, not anger.

The Jesus way is the way of purity, not lust.

The Jesus way is the way of marriage, not divorce.

The Jesus way is the way of integrity, not begging people to trust you.

The Jesus way is the way of non-violence, not getting back at those who hurt you.

The Jesus way is the way of generosity, not taking advantage of people.

The Jesus way is the way of love, not hate.

The Jesus way is the way of authenticity, not hypocrisy.

The Jesus way is the way of prayer, not empty ritual.

The Jesus way is the way of forgiveness, not bitterness.

The Jesus way is the way of fasting, not pigging out all the time.

The Jesus way is the way of giving, not hoarding.

The Jesus way is the way of trusting, not worrying.

The Jesus way is the way of mercy, not judging others.

The Jesus way is the way of asking God, not living in despair.

The Jesus way is the way of the Golden Rule, not selfish ambition.

The Jesus way is the way of discernment, not ignorance.

The Jesus way is the way of knowing God, not playing religious games.

The Jesus way is the way of building life on the Rock, not building on sinking sand.

This Jesus way sounds difficult. I know. It sounds hard. I know. It sounds like a lot. It is, but this is why the Father pours out the Holy Spirit through the Son upon the Church so we may have a Helper who can empower us and shape us to live the Jesus life. It is a difficult way to navigate, but God gives us the Scriptures to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It is a difficult way, which is why God has called us to the Church where we can make friends who can encourage us along the Jesus way.

It is a tough, uphill climb, walking this Jesus way, but the summit is the Jesus life.

And the Jesus life is measured in love.

The capacity by which we love is the capacity by which we experience life.

We love because God first loved us. He initiated by sending his Son. We respond by faith and love. We walk the Jesus way by love. If we lose our way along the trail, we return to the trail head of loving God and neighbor. This Jesus life we all so desperately want is measured out in the love we receive and the love we give.

The Jesus way plus the Jesus truth equals the Jesus life.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Life, Theology

 

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Love the Church

Primal Credo
Chapter 9

If we love Jesus, then we will love what he loves. Or at least we will commit ourselves to grow in love towards what Jesus loves.

What does he love? Jesus loves the church.

Biblical writers are fond of playing with the groom/bride metaphor in describing Jesus and the church. Jesus loves the church, like a groom loves his bride. I struggle with this metaphor as a man, because it is difficult to think of myself as a bride. (Not to mention the sexual overtones when talking about brides & grooms!) Nevertheless, I see the point of the metaphor. Jesus loves the church and Jesus desires the church. He has committed himself to the church in a never-ending covenant. He pledges, as it were, to love us in sickness and in health for richer or for poorer. He chooses us (or did his Father arrange this marriage as the Calvinists say). We are the object of his desire.

If Jesus loves the church, then shouldn’t we?

The church is not an institution; the church is made up of fellow followers of Jesus. Buildings and organizations are important, but they are not the true church. From Primal Credo, Chapter 9:

The North American landscape is peppered with chapels, cathedrals, and storefronts—a variety of places of worship where Jesus is worshiped as God and Savior. We call these places “churches” and rightly so. Gathering with other followers of Jesus in a special place, a sacred place set aside for nothing else but the worship of God, plays an extremely important role in our spiritual growth. We need not reject the central role of a church as a physical structure in the lives of both the worshiping community and the civic community. Places of worship, regardless of their size or shape, stand as a visible reminder that life is not only for business, consumption, shopping, entertaining, eating, and drinking. Our creator designed life to be built around worship. As important as the building is, it can become a distraction, pulling our focus away from the true church, which is not made of wood, steel, brick, and mortar but of breathing, flesh-and-blood human beings with all of our messiness and idiosyncrasies.

I am thankful for the five churches I have been a part of over these twenty plus years including: Frederick Blvd. Baptist Church (St. Joseph), Word of Life Church (St. Joseph), Church on the Move (Tulsa), Believers Church (Tulsa), and Cornerstone Church (Americus). I love these churches and I am thankful for how I have grown through my participation in each of these local expressions of the body of Christ, especially Cornerstone. I have been a part of Cornerstone for nearly 12 years, longer than any other church. I have served as the Youth Minster and now Pastor. Sadly our time is coming to a close. I have only two Sundays left, before my family and I are sent out from the church back to St. Joe, where I will join the staff at Word of Life. I cannot say thank you enough to the members of Cornerstone Church for the years of love, encouragement, prayers, support, and doing life together…let me say it loud:

THANK YOU CORNERSTONE CHURCH. I LOVE YOU.

Cornerstone Church is an example of a church that has become “a colony of heaven in the country of death.” Again from Chapter 9:

The Holy Spirit empowers the church by establishing the rhythms of the kingdom of God within her midst, rhythms of humility, kindness, meekness, mercy, purity, and peace. With the absence of the Spirit’s presence, the local church is quiet, still, lifeless. “So why church?” asks Eugene Peterson. “The short answer is because the Holy Spirit formed it to be a colony of heaven in the country of death.” In light of the prevalence of death, the Spirit establishes these rhythms in the most unique and unpredictable ways. His work in one generation of the church may look vastly different than his work in another generation. The rhythms of grace, peace, mercy, and forgiveness remain the same, but the shape of our individual local churches may take on different forms. Moreover, local churches must change or die. As the culture around us shifts and changes, we must change in order to stay the same. We must change in order to stay faithful to Jesus, to his message, and his story. This includes changing our style, our vocabulary, and our emphasis, so that our old, worn-out ways do not become a hindrance to the gospel.

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Posted by on May 13, 2011 in Life, Theology

 

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The Second Alive

Primal Credo
Chapter 6

Death is the silent specter hovering over every human being who has ever lived. We try to shield ourselves from thoughts of death, but we have all been touched with the sting of death as we have watched the death of friends or loved ones. And our own death is looming the distance.

But for those of us who are followers of Jesus, we have no fear of death, because of the resurrection. Everything changes with the resurrection of Jesus, because the cold winter of death began to thaw and new life began to spring up from the ground. Jesus who died and was buried is the Jesus who rose up from the grave. From Primal Credo, Chapter 6:

Jesus sounds the final defeat of death through his resurrection, which Christians around the world celebrate every year on Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter. It has been the tradition of Christians since the beginning to worship on Sunday morning in an every-week celebration of the resurrection, and once a year we set aside one Sunday for the ultimate celebration of the resurrection. Sadly for some Christians, Easter passes by with chocolate bunnies and Easter egg hunts and they miss out on the celebration. We cannot fully experience the joy of the Resurrection Sunday without reflecting on the sorrow of the cross of Christ. We commemorate the death of Jesus on Good Friday, day one. We reflect on the experience of his burial on Holy Saturday, day two. And we celebrate the joy of his resurrection on Resurrection Sunday, day three.

Everything we believe as followers of Jesus rest upon the truth of the resurrection. We do not proclaim a gospel of death and burial, but of death, burial, and resurrection. If Jesus did not experience resurrection then he was a fraud and our faith is worthless. And yet what if Jesus did NOT rise from the dead? Is there any possible explanation for why the early church would proclaim a risen Jesus if indeed he did not rise from the dead? Again from Chapter 6:

From time to time, skeptics offer reasonable theories in the attempt to disprove the resurrection of Jesus. Some theories are more probable than others, but each theory presents some kind of objection to the validity of the resurrection. Each theory can be formed into a question. What if Jesus wasn’t really dead? What if he just passed out on the cross and he was buried alive, but in a coma-like state? What if some of his disciples stole his body from the tomb and faked the resurrection? What if the real Jesus was never crucified, but rather it was a secret, unknown twin brother who was crucified? What if he was given some kind of ancient sedative that knocked him out for a while on the cross and then the sedative wore off while he was in the tomb? What if a group of people just made this whole story up? Skeptical objections to the resurrection help us wrestle with this all-important truth.

None of these theories are completely inconceivable, but they do not hold up against historical evidence. All of these theories implicate the followers of Jesus in some kind of cover-up conspiracy. Each theory assumes the original followers were lying at some level. The primary response to these skeptical objections is a set of alternative questions regarding the early followers of Jesus. Why would they lie? What would be their motivation for lying? How did they personally benefit by lying about the resurrection?

There is not reasonable explanation for why his followers would fake his resurrection. He did rise from the dead and he is alive. This makes Jesus the big boss of the planet. This makes Jesus Lord and Savior. We do not make Jesus Lord. God made him Lord when he raised Jesus from the dead giving us the hope of new life.

Jesus’ birth connects God with human birth. His suffering on the cross connects God with human sin and suffering. Jesus’ burial connects God with human death and ultimately Jesus’ resurrection connects God with renewed human life. God in Christ overcame the hellish darkness of death to offer humanity new life. N.T. Wright describes this as, “The love which has given itself in death is now renewed with the new life of the resurrection” (The Resurrection of the Son of God, pg. 674). Within this new creation world of renewed life, Jesus gives us a new orientation around the primary Christian virtues: faith, hope, and love. First, the resurrection of Jesus gives us a renewed faith. Jesus told us he would rise from the dead, and he called himself “the resurrection and the life” (Luke 9:22). His physical resurrection adds an exclamation point to those claims. We have no reason to doubt; we can trust him.

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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Life, Theology

 

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The Death of God

Primal Credo
Chapter 5

The death of Jesus makes it impossible to ignore him.

His teachings continue amaze the masses, although the masses tend to misunderstand him. (His stories and sermons were neither common-sensical wisdom nor universal principles on how to do life. His teachings were bold proclamations that the kingdom of God had come.) His miracles caught the attention of the crowds, but it was his execution by Roman crucifixion that makes Jesus stand out from the crowd. His death means the death of God. As impossible as it seems God died on the cross. And now the cross is the symbol of the Christian faith. From Primal Credo, chapter 5:

The cross makes Jesus unavoidable. It began as the symbol of violence, humiliation, and death, but it has become the symbol of faith, hope, and love. The early church used many different symbols for the faith, including a dove, an anchor, loaves and fishes, the icthus fish (which is still around on car bumpers), and Greek letters such as chi/rho and alpha/omega. These all served their purpose, but the cross became the enduring symbol of the Christian faith. Clement of Alexandria in the third century called the cross “the Lord’s sign.” It seems like a foolish symbol for Christianity, particularly in light of the awful history of crucifixion. The cross served as a cruel instrument of execution. Imagine driving by a Christian church near your house and looking up to see an executioner’s electric chair in blazing, bright white atop the steeple. The cross was hideous in the days of the Roman Empire. Everyone recognized it as a violent symbol of failure and death, because it signified the failed plot of would-be revolutionaries—failed revolutionaries do not rescue anyone.

Crucifixion is not the most expedient way to execute criminals. It is bloody, gory, and cruel, yet at the cross of Christ we see the love of God. Again from Chapter 5:

Jesus suffering upon the cross is a hideous and abhorrent figure, yet it reveals God’s love for us in an unforgettable vivid image. The Romans used crucifixion to heap shame and humiliation on their enemies, to disguise their dignity in defeat. However in the crucifixion of Jesus, Rome accomplished just the opposite of what they intended to do. Instead of shame and rejection, the Roman cross became the place where the love of God and his embracing of the world are most clearly seen. Jesus had told his disciples that if he would be lifted up on a cross, he would draw the nations of the world to himself. What the Empire intended for evil, God meant for good. At the cross we see Jesus not as our life coach, love guru, therapist, motivational speaker, or mystical guide; we see Jesus as the Savior of the world. We see the God of self-giving love in real human flesh suffering such hellish torment for the sins of the world.

It is easy for us to overlook the cross, because we know about the resurrection. We know the resurrection is coming, but for a moment put yourself in the shoes of his original disciples and look at the death of Jesus through their eyes.

Imagine the shock of the disciples when Jesus died. They saw the death of Jesus as the end. Their dream died. Their hope was dead. Their king was dead. Their entire understanding of God and God’s kingdom died. In their eyes, the death of Jesus meant Jesus failed. He had worked hard for three years to promote God’s kingdom, but he failed. A dead king is a failed king. Even more than failure, Jesus’ death in the eyes of those who loved him meant he was wrong. He said he was coming to bring the kingdom of God. But how can you lead the expanse of God’s kingdom when you are dead? He was wrong. He was dead wrong. He had said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” and now he was a lifeless corpse lying on a cold rock slab in a dark tomb.

As unbelievable as it sounds, God in Christ experienced death; the death of Jesus was, in one sense, the death of God.

Jesus was dead. He did not play dead. He did not pass out. He was not sedated. He was dead and lifeless. The one called “the Light of the World” now lay in a dark sealed tomb. God was active within Jesus reconciling the world to himself. God joined us in human birth at the manager and then God joined us in human death at the sealed tomb of Jesus. God did not die in the sense that he ceased to exist. God died in that he experienced human death. How can this be? The source of life experienced death.

God in Christ experienced death on the cross, but that is not the end of the Jesus story—Sunday is comin’.

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Life, Theology

 

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Mystery

Primal Credo
Chapter 4

Every mother can tell you the coming-into-the-world story of each of her children. They are often unique. I have witnessed the birth each of my three boys and they each came into the world in their own unique way. Wesley, my oldest, was born early. Taylor, son #2, came late. And Dylan came right on time.

There is one coming-into-the-world story that has been told and retold more than any other; it is the Christmas story. Christmas continues to capture the imagination of people, in part, because of the magical virgin birth. Revisiting the magic and mystery of the birth of Jesus is what puts Christ back into Christ-mas. From Primal Credo, Chapter 4:

Mary’s virgin birth remains the deep mystery of the Christmas story. For those who bemoan the shift in our culture from the Christ of Christmas to the Consumerism of Christmas, the creed offers a response, but not a response of angry protest. The creed does not lead us to boycott department stores that choose to use the phrase “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas.” The creed offers a different response. It extends an invitation to explore the mystery of the virgin birth of Jesus. We reintroduce a Christ-centered meaning into our Christmas celebration by inviting people to explore the mystery of God becoming a man. Augustine explores this mystery in a Christmas sermon from the fifth century: “He lay in a manger, and yet the world rested in his hands. As an infant, He was wordless, and yet He was the Word Itself. Him whom the Heavens couldn’t huddle, the lap of a single woman could easily cuddle. She was toting about on her hip Him Who carries her about the universe.” How can the all-powerful God be a tiny, helpless baby? This question among others nudges us to explore not only the mystery of his birth, but also the mystery of Jesus as the God-man.

The human birth of the eternal Son of God is one of the most central truths in the Christian faith. Again from Chapter 4:

Mary, as a real flesh and blood human being, gave birth to Jesus, a real human being. He looked and acted and smelled like every other baby born on the earth. He did not have a super-human, spirit-like body. His newborn body resembled every other baby born in the Middle East at that time. What makes this birth such a wonderful mystery is he became a human being while remaining God. Jesus was neither a god who took on human qualities nor a man who transformed into a god. He was not some kind of mutant hybrid of half man, half god. He was (and is) the most unique being who has ever existed. He is simultaneously fully God and fully human. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called this mystery “the sign of offense and the object of faith.” To confess belief in Jesus the Son of God born of a woman offends all rational sensibilities. More than illogical, it demands more of us than we are ready to comprehend. If Jesus is God embodied in human form, if he is the God-man, then shouldn’t we pay attention and take the things he says seriously? Some find the offense too overwhelming. They find it easier to ignore Jesus, than to take his life and words seriously. Yet for those of us who believe, the God-man has become the object of our faith, the centering point for our very existence, the foundation from where everything becomes stable and begins to make sense.

Jesus as true God and true man remains the reason we, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “due away with any talk of him being just a good moral teacher.” If Jesus is not indeed God when he went around claiming to do the works of God with the power and authority of God, then he is certainly not good. Indeed he would be quite wicked, evil, or deranged.

Either oppose him, hunt him down and try to kill him like Herod.

Or bring the him the gifts fitting a king and bow down and worship him as God.

He leaves us with no other choice.

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Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Life, Theology

 

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We Follow the Lamb

Primal Credo
Chapter 3: Jesus

We believe in God.

This conviction puts us on a different trajectory from atheists, those who do not believe in God, but there is nothing uniquely Christian about claiming belief in God. From Primal Credo, chapter 3:

The overwhelming majority of people alive today believe in God. We do see a growing, grassroots revival of atheism spreading throughout Europe and North America. However, these new atheists remain in the minority of the world’s population. It seems many who claim to be atheists are not true philosophical atheists; rather they are angry theists. They do not deny the existence of God as much as they are angry with a misconstrued view of God. Nevertheless to confess belief in God, or anger towards God as in the case of so many self-proclaimed atheists, is not enough to give full expression to the Christian faith. We uniquely believe in Jesus, who we call “the Christ.”

Christ is a title meaning “anointed one or King,” specifically the Jewish king called “Messiah.” Christ Jesus is King Jesus.

We uncover the mystery of Jesus Christ when we consider the truth that he is both God and a man. Jesus is really God and a real human being, at the same time. We worship him as God and we follow him as the earthly King. We follow him and we give our allegiance to him and his kingdom, the kingdom of God. To confess “Jesus is Lord” is to acknowledge he is the “landlord” of the planet. He is in charge. He is running the show. To pledge our allegiance to King Jesus is to undermine the authority of every human government of the earth. We may be the citizen of a certain political nation, but our deepest loyalties lie with Jesus. The confession “Jesus is Lord” got the early Christian in trouble with the Roman Empire not because it was a religious claim, but it was a political claim. Again, from chapter 3:

Citizens living in the Roman Empire during the time of Jesus and the early church began to worship and honor the various Caesars, the Roman Emperors, as god-like men. The people gave whichever Caesar was in power titles like “Lord” and “Savior of the World.” They even called Caesar divi filius in Latin, meaning “Son of God.” The titles early Christians used for Jesus were originally given to Caesar. First-century Christians living in the shadow of Roman dominance deeply subverted the authority of the Caesar when they called Jesus “Lord” and “Son of God.” Caesar wanted all honor and authority in his empire; honoring another king above him carried the potential sentence of death. Christians who saluted Jesus as King implied that Caesar was no longer running the show. This subversive confession of our creed—I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord—put Christians at odds with the mighty Caesar. Jesus and Caesar could not both be King, Lord, Savior, and Son of God. Emperors do not conquer the world by sharing the throne. Caesar would be dethroned if indeed Jesus was Lord.

Many followers of Jesus found themselves the targets of Rome’s rage in the first few centuries of church history, not because they believed Jesus was Lord of heaven, but because they proclaimed him to be the Lord of heaven and earth. The political implications of their confession caught the attention of the empire. As Roman officials grew irritated with these small bands of Jesus-worshippers, they responded with violence. Many Christians died because they made this simple, bold, subversive claim: Caesar was not Lord; Jesus was. We call those who died for their faith in Jesus “martyrs,” which comes from the Greek word martus, meaning “public witness.”

For those of us who are followers of Jesus living in the United States, confessing “Jesus is Lord” means we do not give ultimate honor to our national Caesars. We do ultimately pledge our allegiance to governmental officials at any level of public office, regardless of their political affiliation. We do not put our hope in one political ideology, because our hope is not in a political party; our hope is in the King. We do not follow the donkey, or the elephant; we follow the Lamb.

When we boldly declare, and live in light of the truth, that Jesus is Lord, Christ, and King, we separate our Christian identity from our national identity.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2011 in Life, Theology

 

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Father & Creator

Chapter 2

The creed opens with “I believe in God…”. Everything else the creed has to say is oriented around this life-altering statement. Our creed is much more about God than it is about us. This may disappoint some people, but it is necessary to be honest—we probably spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about ourselves. The creed turns our attention away from ourselves and towards this God who, according to the creed, is “the Father almighty and creator of heaven and earth.” The descriptors “Father” and “creator” tell us something about our God. From Primal Credo, chapter 2:

“Father” and “creator” are action-packed titles showing us the God we believe in is living, moving, doing, relating. He is not a stationary God, but he is fathering and creating. God as Father is a peek into how personal God is. He is not an abstract spiritual energy. He cannot be reduced to a set of ideas, moral principles, or pithy statements. He is knowable and personal like a father, and he is our Father. God as creator reveals how powerfully active God is in creation. He does not hide out in some forgotten part of the universe doing nothing; rather, he creates.

God as creator was revealed to us in creation.

God as Father was revealed to us in Jesus.

There has been a running debate over the last 30-40 years in the church regarding to the masculine reference to God in the title “Father.” Some feel that calling God “Father” only reinforces male chauvinism and the domination of men over women. I believe hanging on the traditional, male reference to God is important and we can overcome the male chauvinism without changing how we speak about God. Again from chapter 2:

“Father” is an unmistakable masculine reference. Jesus reveals God as a father not because God has chest hair and a desire to watch football and eat buffalo wings (which is a poor caricature of masculinity anyway). God is a divine person and we understand the concept of a person in the context of gender, either male or female. We cannot conceive of a genderless person. People may not understand their gender or they may attempt to change their gender, but they cannot remove gender altogether from their identity. Jesus reveals God as a masculine father, not that we would overlook or marginalize our mothers, sisters, and wives. God does not have a gender per se, so we cannot hold masculinity in higher esteem than femininity. God is the creator of human beings—male and female. Both men and women reflect the goodness of God’s creation. Jesus shows us God as Father, first and foremost, so we can see him as a person.

God is a personable as a father, but he can never be our buddy; the creed reminds us that he is the Father almighty. We can know him and love him and communicate with him, but we can never become too casual (or even too comfortable?) in his presence. He is after all the Almighty.

In addition to the fatherhood of God, the creed tells us that God is creator of heaven and earth. God made everything that has been made. The creed serves as a synopsis of the biblical story, which begins with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis, and the creed, gives us the “who” behind creation, but does not tell us the “how.” Science guides us in understanding the “how.” Science can certainly get it wrong. History reveals the errors of science. A part of the scientific process is forming a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, and accepting or rejecting the hypothesis based on data. We need to guard ourselves from making the scientific community the enemy of the faith. Instead of “fighting science” we should dialogue with science:

Our belief in God as creator rises from the beginning of our story in Genesis, written by a pre-scientific author to a pre-scientific culture using the language of story and poetry. To force the Genesis account of creation into scientific categories is one of the quickest ways to drive the wedge between faith and science much deeper. Trying to use the biblical story and our creed to make scientific claims is, as Adam Hamilton says, “… a bit like trying to use a paintbrush to drive screws into a wall. It is the wrong tool for the job.” Our creed, as informed by the story of Scripture, does not answer the “how” questions; it answers the “who” and “why” questions. We need not fear when listening to the scientific community telling us how the universe moves in rhythm and harmony or how the cells of the human body replicate themselves. We have much to learn and much to benefit from listening to science. Equally, we need not fear entering into conversation with the scientific community using the language of the creed.

The language of faith puts life into the soul of truth. Science can guide us in understanding how, but faith guides us in answering the big “why” questions.

Why existence?

Why is there something instead of nothing?

Why is there a universe?

Why is there scientific laws?

Why is there a planet sustainable for human life?

Why is there human life?

Why do we exist?

When we confess faith in a God who is creator, we acknowledge that there is meaning, intention, and purpose behind our creation. With meaning and purpose behind our creation, we can find meaning and purpose in human society.

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Posted by on May 5, 2011 in Life, Theology

 

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