Monthly Archives: December 2013

Perspective for the New Year

When asked about the “greatest commandment,” Jesus encapsulated in His response a broad perspective on life and relationships.  Reflecting upon his answer at this time of year can help us as we move forward in every area of ministry.  His answer gives us perspective.

Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:29-31)

First, we must know God.  This is the essential element of understanding life and all of our relationships.  There is only one God, and we know Him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is the Creator of all things, both seen and unseen, and we are part of His creation.  Our very life is dependent upon Him, as well as our salvation.  He is God, and we are not, though we often attempt to displace Him in His proper role.

Secondly, we must know others.  In knowing them, we must love them.  In loving them, we come to know them more fully.  All of their idiosyncrasies, their foibles, their habits – both good and bad!  As we take a look at others, we really see how needy they are, in every facet of life.  We can see in their need the reality of their dependence upon God.  Such is the human condition.

Thirdly, we must know ourselves.  Our love for others is inherently connected to our knowledge and love for self.  Too often we view ourselves separate from the others around us.  However, we must overcome this delusion and realize we are the same as they.  We need God’s supply and sufficiency each and every day.

So, really, there are only two sides here, rather than three.  God is on the one side as Creator, Sustainer, and Provider.  We and all the “others” are on the other side as needy and dependent upon God’s care and provision for us.

Keeping this in mind as we serve people in 2014 will help us keep the proper perspective.  As we serve those around us, we serve them out of our own dependence upon the God whom they need as well.  We are no better than they in this regard, whether they are believers or unbelievers, young or old.  As we depend upon Christ for our life and our sustenance, we can be a light for others who search in this darkness.  May we be faithful in showing forth His light throughout this New Year!

(Original written for the January 2012 Newsletter of the One in the Son chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, Grand Rapids, MI)

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Seeing Ourselves through the Lense of Christmas

“There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.  He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and those who were his own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…”  (John 1:9-12 NASB)

Christian Worldview studies are meant to help us view the world in the proper way.  God created both what we see and what we don’t see.  Man, in his pride, disbelieved God and disobeyed His Word bringing the corrosive influence of sin into the world.  The resulting damage to our relationships with God, with self, with others and even with the created world is something we experience every day.

But God, in His mercy and love, provided a way for mankind to be restored.  This is what the Christmas season is about.  Although man, on his own, could not repair the damage caused by sin, the Son of God coming into the world as a Man brought the “true light” and salvation to those who would respond to Him in faith.

The passage quoted above connects the ideas of Christian Worldview and Christmas together.  Notice how many times the word “world” is used.  Notice God’s view of the world.  Notice how inter-connected God the Son is with this world that He created.  Notice His love for this world in coming to this world and becoming one of us in order to restore our relationships damaged by sin.  Notice that because of His love for us, He gives us the “right” to become children of God when we believe in His name.

Are you one of the “children of God?”  There is no better time than today to consider the reality of your sin, and your need for a Savior.  Christ has come, and during this season we celebrate His coming.  May this year be a time for each of us to really see – and understand – the depth of God’s love for us in the presence of His Son on earth.

(Original written for the December 2011 Newsletter of the One in the Son chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, Grand Rapids, MI)

Christmas Worldview

The Christmas story is a perfect way to introduce the ideas of Christian Worldview.  This simple approach is pretty easily understood even by children and those who are unfamiliar with the finer details of Christian faith.

Christmas is a season of giving and receiving, and is universally a season of good will.  We feel good about this time of year – the decorations, the holiday parties, and the joy we see on faces.

But even in the midst of this joy, we know there is sorrow and conflict.  We know there is pain and suffering.  We might ask, “Why is this such a season of hope and good things, yet there still remain problems in the world?

That’s a good question, and one that we could use to start conversations.  Those we talk with might answer by saying that “selfishness” is the cause of the problems.  Others might suggest “greed,” while others might say “physical suffering” is the culprit.  And these answers are all true, but only as symptoms of the real human problem.

The real problem is sin – inhabiting the entire human race because of the disobedience of the first man, Adam.  The joy and gladness of this season are hints of what God meant for our lives to be (read Genesis 1 & 2), but this was distorted by sin which causes all sorts of internal and external problems – both personal and social (read Genesis 3).

It is into this mess of a distorted and broken creation that God introduces a tiny Baby.  Born to a woman who was engaged, but not yet married.  Born into the waiting luxury of a feeding trough found in a barn.  Born as fully human, yet also fully God.  The God-Man, Jesus Christ, comes to dwell with men “full of grace and truth” (read John 1).

He has come for us.  He has come to draw us back to God through faith.  He has come to restore the brokenness in our world:  our broken relationship with God.  Our broken inner person.  Our broken marriages.  Our broken bodies.  Our broken culture and society.

He still comes for us during this Season of Christmas.  It is no mistake that there is great hope and joy attached to our celebrations.  He is our Hope.  He is our Joy.  He is there for any who would call upon His Name!

Share His story with those you are with this holiday season.  What better gift have we received, and what better gift can we give?

 

(Original written for the December 2009 Newsletter of the One in the Son chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, Grand Rapids, MI)

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