A man who holds every opinion so close to his chest that it merges with his heart will have few listeners and fewer friends.
God never overrides our good decisions to give us what is poorer. He consistently overrides our poor decisions to give us what is better.
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
Last night I had a dream so real that when I awoke I was unsure which reality was actually reality. I was standing in one of my RAs’ room, talking with him when Satan showed up unannounced. He pounded the walls, broke down the door. In swept the rain and in swept him, standing before us with full intent to kill. Entirely unsure of what to do, we began shouting at him the promises of God we have through the person of Jesus Christ. I don’t think I was audibly screaming as I woke up when he began to approach, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was.
It was a dream; nothing more. It is not prescient of some catastrophe about to strike my life or a shadow of reality that needs to be interpreted back into what might be or might become. It was a dream, not unlike the sort where my seminary final exams prove to be about fertilizer treatments and lawn care.
And yet it struck me that this dream had a far better theology than that which runs through my mind on a day-to-day level in one area. Satan was real, and he was desperately evil. This was no here kitty kitty Satan. This was the roaring lion on a mission to kill, and he was coming for me.
A chapel speaker once asked us the question last year, “If every passage about Satan and the demons was struck out of the Bible would it change the way you pray?” At the time I could only answer no. Because I did not think of the active role the opposers of God play in history and in my own life. Tempter. Accuser. Deceiver. These are the titles of the Devil, and titles we would do well to remember. He is the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world in which we live.
Martin Luther captured well the substance of living in a demon-haunted world under the banner of Christ.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Amen and amen.
Arrogance is one of the most difficult diseases of soul to diagnose, as the very arrogance which exists will explain itself away as self-assurance that convinces you of your station as an honorable conquistador of the faith.
The wise men worship Jesus before he has done anything or said anything that would make him worthy of worship. Unless he was God. Then such worship would make sense. Worship antecedent to his salvific work demands that Jesus in his being be intrinsically worthy of worship.
Though a heavy distinction between who God is and what he has done cannot be maintained, for his character compels his specific actions, we fundamentally worship God because he is inherently worthy of being worshipped.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they was the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Matthew 2:10-11a
It often takes a long time for our emotions to catch up with our theology. When catastrophe strikes, we know the right answers but rarely feel the comfort we know they should produce. Such is the role of the subservient being called to place faith in the merciful and loving Father. Even Jesus knew the gulf that can exist between what we know we ought to feel and how we truly respond to past, present or future calamity.
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. (Matthew 26:29)
Obedience and faith are beautiful qualities when they face the raging storm.
It has become rather trendy to portray Jesus as a homeless indigent whose radical bent towards the kingdom of God led him to pursue a life of poverty and transience, eschewing any touches of comfort. Such interpretations of the life of Jesus might have problems with the rather innocuous verse of Matthew 9:1:
And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city.
Jesus was from somewhere. Certainly he was well travelled, but he had a city that he called his own. This reality doesn’t make Jesus any less driven to break forth the kingdom of God in a new way into human society. It does mean that we must be careful not to take our own self-conceived notions of what the most radical expression of kingdom looks like and attribute them to Jesus. Jesus was the most faithful expression of kingdom living, and Jesus had a home.