Ten words. Two biblical sentences. That’s enough to give you a solid foundation for your life.
They’re words that are pregnant with truth and power and grace. They summarize the the remedy for your greatest problem and the sure hope for lasting peace and joy.
What are they?
Do you realize that you’re being watched? At work. At school. In your neighborhood. At social events with your friends. At the grocery store and in the PTA meeting. At your kids’ sporting events. Maybe even at home.
No, I’m not talking about some Big Brother conspiracy. I’m simply pointing out the fact that people outside the Christian faith often have a front row seat to your life. And whether you realize it or not, what they see contributes to their view of what it means to believe in and follow Christ.
Now, if you’re like me, this is a bit unnerving. I’m not always the best representative of the Christian faith in my words and actions. On the other hand, it’s also a tremendous opportunity. Why? Because people often need to see that faith in Christ “works” in real life before they will consider embracing it for themselves. Seeing people they know living out their faith with integrity and winsomeness can provide motivation and vision for them to do the same.
And this leads me to three important points:
In his sermon this morning, Ryan briefly talked about God’s command for the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites upon their entrance to the Promised Land. If you’d like to read more about how to understand this difficult and sobering chapter of biblical history, I’d invite you to look at a short series of articles I wrote a few years ago called “Wrestling with the Old Testament Holy Wars.”
Part 1 deals with a challenge to Christianity from a well-known atheist regarding this episode, while part 2 and part 3 discuss several biblical considerations we need to keep in mind as we process God’s command.
Maybe you’ve had a situation in your life that’s made you genuinely question God. A family member with a terrible illness. A broken relationship. A job opportunity that seemed perfect, but didn’t work out or brought you a lot of misery. Whatever the specific details, it’s just hard to see what God is/was up to.
Or maybe it’s something else, like a news report of refugees fleeing war and unrest. They need food and shelter. People are dying, including children. How could God allow these things to happen? Isn’t he good? Isn’t he powerful enough to prevent these things?
It could be an issue with something else you’ve been taught about God that’s simply tough to understand. How can God be three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and still be one God? How does that work?
The truth is, there are many things in life related to God and his ways that are, to say the least, difficult to wrap our minds around. And that can lead to searching questions. And those questions can lead to uncertainty, frustration, and, in some cases, even fear and anger.
So what do we do when find ourselves in this kind of situation?
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means that love is in the air.
Or is it?
I ask the question because I’m convinced that love is one of the more widely defined–and misunderstood–concepts in our culture. And I’m far from the first person to point out that this time of year doesn’t always lend itself to the clearest thinking on the subject.
So when you get right down to it, what does it mean to love someone in God’s eyes?
What do the following things have in common? And what do they have to do with your life?:
- A near shipwreck.
- The beauty of an English day in mid-winter.
- The repetitive chant of a child from a neighboring house.
- A skin disease.
- A “hard boiled atheist’s” evaluation of the gospels.
- A modern piano composition.
- Facing charges for tax fraud.
- A mother reading her children bedtime stories.