“Christ’s easy yoke drew dozens and then thousands and millions into Christianity, which for the first three centuries of its existence was professed in the Roman Empire under penalty of death.”
“It [the message of Christ] answered, as it were, to the facts, to something deep within men. God crucified formed a bridge between our human perception of a cruelly imperfect and indifferent wold and our human need for God, our human sense that God is present.”
John Updike, “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” in Contemporary Writers on the New Testament: Incarnation,
Edited by Alfred Corn (Viking Press, 1990), 10.
This one life, this solitary life, this matchless life, has changed the world and continues to change the world. Jesus continues to be the world’s greatest hope. Proclaim Him today. Believe in Him today.
Suggested by a Reading of Psalm 16 Part of the Poetry Project
Nobody knows what Miktam means. It only occurs in six places (Psalm 16, 56-60). One interesting note is that each of the psalms it appears in breathe an atmosphere of lamentation or urgent supplication. The psalmist is in pain and emotionally distraught. He is in agony because of the sin that he sees around him. And out of that profound agony, he cries out to God for relief. This particular psalm is a messianic psalm. Below I have re-cast its words as if Christ Himself is praying the psalm.
Christ knew he was to die for the sins of men. He mourned and cried out to the Father in the midst of His agony in the garden. But he knew also that He would rise. These mysteries are great but He is also our model.
We have much to lament, much to mourn in our age. But we don’t hear much lamentation in the church. We should.
On our watch,
abortion on demand became the law of the land
abortion has ended the lives of 57 million children
the corruption of our political system took place
divorce has become common place
marriage has been dishonored
marriage has been redefined
college students can’t tell you who we fought in the revolutionary war
college students can’t tell you who George Washington was
or what the civil war was fought over
sexuality has been redefined
Jesus and his word are dishonored
Church attendance is at its lowest point in the last 80 years
Christian giving averages only 2.5% of income
and younger generations replacing the old give even less
TV sells alternative lifestyles as normal in nearly every program
and with all of this, God’s people seem to have little interest in prayer
In short, there is much that we should be crying out to God about. And that is what lament is all about. Psalm 16 is a good place to begin.
Hope from Agony
1 I am a refugee seeking protection.
2 Declaring, “The LORD is My shepherd; . and all My wants are satisfied in You.” 3 All those invited to Your banquet hall . are My delightful friends. 4 The sorrows of those who turn their back on You shall increase; . But You are My guide, I will not follow their example . or proclaim their passions as My own; 5 You are the one who fills My cup . and holds My future in Your hands.
6 It may not look like it now; . but My inheritance is a promised and beautiful thing. 7 My heart will delight in Your counsel; . and the sleep I lose will be spent in Your presence. 8 You will be before Me in every scary moment; . so nothing will shake Me. 9 My heart has risen from the depths and My whole being rejoices; . because I dwell in security. 10 For there is no way that You will abandon Me. . You won’t let Your Son end in the grave. 11 You make the path of life crystal clear; . and in Your presence there is fullness of joy; . at Your right hand pleasures never end.
Revised and reposted because Bonhoeffer is always relevant and he points us to the importance of the word of God in achieving any lasting happiness. Happiness is not achieved by seeking it but by seeking that which is the source of all happiness–God Himself.
ISIS, unfortunately, is not going to go away over night, unless Jesus comes back and puts an end to all war. That day will come but until it does, Christians need to think and pray hard about how should we live in a world with ISIS and how do we, as Christians, pray in relation to them?
While psalms of imprecation (cursing) are appropriate to pray in certain circumstances, “Nevertheless, the psalms are not a license to make damnation pronouncements.” (John Piper)
John Piper is asked and gives his answer to a question that every Christian ought to struggle with. Listen to this audio file. It will deepen your love of the gospel, instruct you in how to soberly evaluate your own heart, and cause you to think more clearly and Christianly about a difficult issue in our time.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Jesus lived hand to mouth. He was not rich. He did not live in privilege but in poverty. (v. 58)
Proclaiming the Kingdom of God was the highest priority for Jesus. (v. 59-60)
Having a life focused on the Kingdom of God is an ambition affirmed by Christ. (v. 61-62)
Doesn’t this suggest that if we are serious about living passionately for and like Christ that we will have to choose to live a less privileged life?
How is it possible to proclaim the Kingdom of God if the Kingdom of God is not our highest priority in life?
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus . Christ … Mark 1:14 Now after John had been taken into . custody, Jesus came into Galilee, . preaching the gospel of God.
In span of 14 verses, the gospel of Jesus Christ is equated with the gospel of God. Aristotelian logic: Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another.
Don’t neglect such connections when you are talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups who deny the deity of Christ. There are hundreds of these kind of passages in the New Testament. Hunt them down and use them as you defend with gentleness what the Scripture teaches about our great God.