Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When we turn our heads

"Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we didn't know about this,' won't He who weighs hearts consider it? Won't He who protects your life know? Won't He repay a person according to his work?"
Proverbs 24:11-12
I have a good friend who often says, "When good men fail to do nothing, evil prevails." Solomon's wise words here speak of inaction, rather than action. It is often in the church to speak of sin as being those things we do that are dishonoring to God, however, it is right to consider those things that we do not do which bring dishonor to our God. I've heard many in older generations pray for forgiveness of sins of "omission and commission;" I wonder if we shouldn't work to be more aware of our sins of omission.
What is the message for Christians today from Solomon? What we do not do is as important in God's eyes as those things that we do. Just as there are certain things in this world that we should abstain from as Christians, there are certain things that we should never abstain from. JHWH is a God of the down and out, and as God's people we too must be ministers to the down and out, serving as God's hands and feet and not turning our head to the plight of the broken. Be sure, just as God will repay a person for her work, He will surely repay for our lack of compassion and caring in a world that is broken and dying.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


It is common among Christians to question why the Old Testament laws concerning dietary restrictions are no longer enforced in the New Covenant. We all understand that God spoke to Peter in a vision and showed Peter that all things were now clean. Specifically, in Acts 10:15 God says, "What God has made clean, you must not call common (or unholy)." But, why has God chosen to do this? Why are we as a part of the New Covenant allowed to enjoy bacon and ham when those of the Old Covenant were not?
The answer is found in John 4. Jesus, in his exchange with the Woman at the well told her that the time had come when people would worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Until the time of Christ, God was worshipped in specific places with rituals and customs. The Spirit of God took up a residence within the temple where people came to worship. The dietary restrictions were ways that the people honored God with their everyday restricting what they ate. In essence, the dietary and other Old Testament restrictions served as a daily reminder of the God whom they served. However, with the New Covenant (which is Christ), the reminder was no longer necessary just as the Temple was not necessary because the Spirit of God took up its residence within the people of God.
The ending of dietary restrictions was not a relaxing of the recognition of sacred things in the world. Rather, the end of the dietary restrictions showed an increase in the sacred. No longer was holiness reserved for certain foods and places. With Christ, the people of God were now able to worship God in any place and circumstance. With the New Covenant, it is not that nothing is sacred, but rather that all things can be viewed as sacred and worthy of thanksgiving and praise to God because his Spirit resides within us as a constant reminder of whose we are. What God has now made clean, we must not call common, but rather we should praise him for all the goodness that he gives to us everyday!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What Did God Say?

Genesis 1:26-27 records a unique occurence in the Creation Story. Throughout the account of Creation to this point, God's creative powers have been used in exactly the same way. It was with His voice that God created. The powerful God of the universe needed to do nothing more than speak, and the earth, sky, and all creation came into being. The formula was the same, until verse 26.
In verse 26, God moves from the "Let there be" formula, to a conversation, presumably with the other members of the Godhead. It is here, in verse 26, where God first establishes the difference between man, the crowning jewel of His creation, and the rest of creation. Rather than merely speaking humans into creation as He had done with all other things, God chooses a different route. "Let us make," He says, "man in our image." It was not good enough for humanity to be created in the same way as everything else, instead God chose to make human beings in a different way; He made humans in His image.
Genesis 2:7 explains this difference for us. " Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being." God, in his infinite love, holiness, and knowledge, saw fit to make man with His own hands. The Bible says that God, the Great Creator, stepped from heaven to earth and made the very first human being from the dust of the ground. God did not stand back and watch His masterpiece take shape, God got His hands dirty so that we could have life. What an amazing God who would humble Himself to play in the mud for us. The same God who would later clothe Himself in flesh and hang from a cross. What a Savior!