Matthew 22:37 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
This is where the Christian Faith begins. This is the paradigm of your relationship with God. It requires that you do not have closed off spiritual, emotional and private relationships but relationships that begin in your heart and end at the four corners of the world. It begins privately and intimately but extends through your hands to your neighbor, town, county, state, country and world.
This is God’s program to perfect creation. It’s the overpowering force. It’s you responding in the only appropriate way imaginable to His instigating love; with total abandon, complete surrender, utter adoration and all engrossing subordination.
Heart, soul and mind don’t consist of compartmentalized aspects of life, but here signify the total self; the whole man.
This command becomes the engine, the roadmap, the structure on which your life’s work is built. It becomes the modas operandi. The beginning, the end and the content of life. This is the sum total of who you are and what you do.
This command, applied to your life, becomes the antithesis, cultural mandate and great commission in action. This is the chief command from which all obedience is derived. It’s the fountain head of culture, ethics, science, theology, art, family, community and meaning that pleases God.
This requires proximity and consists of productivity and praise.
In the section mentioned earlier from Matthew, we saw that Jesus referred explicitly to the fish being a sign of His death, burial and resurrection.
Death and resurrection are part of our life in Christ. Dying to ourselves is the only way to live for God. Jonah was shown this truth through his ordeal in the fish. Jesus demonstrated it throughout his life, ministry and passion. We must die to ourselves so that we might live for God. Doing the will of the father requires it and it is a sign that points to Jesus Christ. It is a sign that signifies one is a disciple of the living God.
So, this is a fairly straight forward and easy sign. Jonah is swallowed by the Fish and remains in a death like state for three days. He rises on the third day with words of power to speak to the nations. Just like Jesus.
We are gathered in. The Lord himself has spied out the land, tasted of its plenty and declared the promises fulfilled. He has declared the year of the Lord. We huddle in the upper room of heaven gripped in fear. Fear that leads to wisdom that frees us from ourselves, fear that leads us here, to worship for it is the fear of awe.
We are gathered in and the scarlet cord hangs form our window. The house that belongs to the Lord shall stand, even as the wall of humanity falls in destruction. We shall be passed over as you march from the river to the sea and subdue it all. It is finished. Even now we feast at the banquet set amidst our enemies. Let our joy be an example, may your spirit be theirs; those at home now lost in their worldly pursuits, may they know this elation secured by Christ, that they too might stand with us and look upon you in Spirit and truth. We are gathered in. Hear us. Not because we are righteous, but because of your son, the Christ, the Emperor of the cosmos, who gave this right to us, to ask in his name…
It is this spiritually organic relationship that forms the basis of true Christian community. It is not the fact that we are united in common goals or purposes that makes us a community. Rather, it is the fact that we share a common life in Christ. There are many organizations, both secular and Christian, whose members work together to pursue common goals. Some of these groups may call themselves communities. But biblical community goes much deeper than sharing common goals, though it ultimately involves that. Biblical community is first of all the sharing of a common life in Christ. It is when we grasp this truth that we are in a position to begin to understand true community.
The word Extravagant means to exceed the limits of reason or necessity.
That is the kind of love Jesus exhibits. Jesus didn’t need a throne; he had one already. Jesus didn’t need men. Who needs broken clay jars? Jesus has authority over everything; in Him everything that is, was made. God made man in His own image and Jesus is jealous enough for even the image of God, that He could not allow the dishonor of the fall to stand. He wanted God’s creation to fulfill its creation purpose; to live in harmony worshiping God.
So Jesus took on flesh; the infinite took on the limits of creation. The king became a carpenter’s son. He slept in open boats and ate meals. He argued with self-righteous hypocrites and endured the confused bombastic yapping of His apostles.
The Maker let His creation slap him, tear His beard out and nail iron into His flesh. Iron, which was made in and through Jesus, Jesus allowed to be driven through the flesh He didn’t need, to die a death we caused, to win us back to a Father we rejected.
This is a love that exceeds the limits of reason and necessity.
Thus, the apologetic task will consist, not of externally verifying the Christian presupposition but, of applying it by (1) bringing God’s truth and commands to bear upon the lives of unbelievers, appealing to the image of God in them (distinguishing between present remnants of man’s original nature and the ever-present nature of fallen man), pointing out that every fact of the world bears witness to God, and (2) doing an internal critique of the non-Christian’s system, calling down its idols, and pointing out the absolute necessity of Christian presuppositions if logic, factuality, history, science, and morality are to have any meaning, validity, and application at all. The Christian apologetic will not concede intellectual ground to Christianity’s cultured despisers or allow them to exploit theoretical foundations to which they have no legitimate claim without depending on the Christian faith. Thus, part of the Christian’s reasoned defense of the faith will be an aggressive offense.
I used to write and write and write poems. 5 a week. Sometimes I would write for 6 hours a day. I loved to draw attention to the overlooked, everyday things of life. The magical things. The deep things in the foreground of our daily lives that we just don’t see because we’re usually so busy.
Then I was converted, over a two year period, from the age of 23-25. At the time I was baptized, I had a fellowship with Jack Straw Productions and was well on my way to a promising career as a poet. But as the months passed me by and I began to read Spurgeon instead of Rousseau and Tolkien instead of Patchen, I found that something was different. I couldn’t escape how vainglorious my work had always been. I read it with new eyes and found that it was humanistic, shallow and self-centered.
I continued to write after my conversion, but I couldn’t help it from becoming sermonic. I would pull out my pocket notebook and pen and pour drivel all over the pristine page. Though I was clothed in the white of the lamb, my words were full of kitsch christian platitudes. Continue reading “Emerging from the Wordsmithy”