Monday, June 13, 2011

Faith Old and New

In my devotional today I read through Isaiah 51:1-16.  In this chapter and the following chapters, Isaiah is clearly looking forward to the coming Messiah and the eternal salvation for God's people, whom he deems as the righteous, or those who know God.  I see his faith unfold, and I cen feel his excitement in what he has recorded as he looks forward to the one that will ransom him from sin.  There is so much good theology in this passage pertaining to salvation; for example, Isaiah refers to those who are righteous as the redeemed and ransomed.  We know that Jesus is the one who made the purchase for the redeemed and ransomed his people from captivity, but Isaiah refers to the redeemed and ransomed in the past tense in verses ten and eleven.  Jesus' act on the cross was in effect eternal; therefore, someone does not need to exist finitely, post historically from this event.  What Isaiah claimed is that he already was ransomed and redeemed based on an event that historically had not even happened yet.  He very tangibly had faith that what God had promised through his Messiah would come to pass.

This got me thinkin: who has greater faith, someone in the Old Testament looking forward in faith someone looking back at Jesus' act?  Now obviously those, who walked and talked with Jesus do not have the same faith as those who did/have not seen Jesus, because Jesus said so in John 20:29.  I tend to think that those who lived pre Jesus had greater faith than those who lived and continue to live post Jesus.

Both groups have the prophets, scripture, archaelogical evidence, evidences of faith from other believers.  However, those who were pre Jesus had to hope and trust that God would follow through on his promise for the Messiah.  I can look back at history and see evidences and proofs that Jesus factually existed.  Archealogically speaking, Christianity is the most dependable of religions.  There is more proof that he existed than the existence of Troy, but history seems to more readily accept the latter than the prior.

Perhaps a better analogy for us to look at in order that we may empathize with the faith of the Old Testament people is our faith in the return of Jesus.  This is interesting because just as in pre-Jesus eras there are always people who believe differently about the Messiah.  Some believed that there were many messiahs, all having there own part in Jewish history.  Others believed that they are still waiting on the Messiah.  There are event some who believed that there was no Messiah but that it was a spiritual idiom for having a mystic, spiritual type relationship with God, or that a special knowledge was revealed to them which was the Messiah.  We as Christians believe the Messiah has come and dwelt amongst mankind and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  However, much like the B.C. opinions of the Messiah are our opinions of the "End Times." Everyone has a belief whether Jesus will come back, when he will come back, how, or if the church will be raptured or not.  I am confident that one day all of the opinions will come to a hault.

Paul Washer has said it this way, "When Jesus returns we will know everything there is to know about it, but millenia from know when we are in heaven, we will still be pondering the depth of the gospel and salvation through Jesus."

I tend to agree that my questions will be answered, but the truth of this blog is that I began by considering the faith of the Old Testament heroes and that of my own.  I must admit there is no definitive answer to this, but found great joy in musing my soul with such thoughts.  How have meditated on scripture today?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Compelled to Nothing

Often I feel as if we desire so greatly to be cool that we do everything under the sun to attain it, but when we arrive at the promised land of "cooltown," we realize we have arrived no where.  Popularity is entirely based upon the culture one lives in, and to press this matter even further popularity can be whittled down to micro-cultures.  Take this for example, down in the rural, southern region of the United States among those indigenous to the area it has become cool to dip.  For those who read this and are unsure of what dipping is: this is where a person takes a wad of tabacco leaves that have fermented and putrified, then artificially enhanced to fit in a tiny can, and shove this wad in front of their lower teeth just behind the lip.  I attribute this habit to the general bad grammar and broken English of people in the "south."  However, to dip in say San Francisco, would be considered disgusting.  Thus, a young man in high school will do whatever his friends tell him is cool to attain his popularity status.  However, should he wander only a few hundred miles from his home town, he can be deemed disgusting.

Likewise, I would like to shed light on this Christian culture that has invaded the homes of every Christian it seems in America.  You can go to a Christian owned and operated book store of choice, and in this regard there is little difference between companies, and purchase yoour religion in a trendy little package.  Something of popularity in mainstream culture has become the "live, laugh, love" theme, and as a means of being counter-cultural in Christendom the theme of "faith, hope, love" has arisen.  Am I saying that "faith, hope, love" is wrong?  Absolutely not; it is scripture! (I Cor. 13) However, I cannot say that I feel very comfortable about my faith becoming a consumable item for my home.

Now in light of scripture (Deut. 6), we are told to bind God's word to our heads, arms, and doorposts.  So, to give our homes the decor of scripture has got to be one of the godliest concepts ever, but at what cost do we do this?

I don't care to be judgmental towards anyone, and I certainly do not want to criticize good Christian brothers and sisters.  Nonetheless, I feel like our faith has become marketable... How can such a faith be marketable, with trendy vector art on the covers of our Bibles, when we read in John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you?"  Elsewhere we read in II Tim. 3:12 "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," but this does not make sense if our faith is marketable.

For something to be marketable it must be cool, popular, trendy, desirable. says it must be "readily sellible, and in demand," but how can this be possible?  Does the world need Jesus, whom which our faith is built on?  Obviously...but they do not desire Jesus.  In John 3:19-21, Jesus states that men are evil (dark), and he is goodness and rightouesness (light).  Evil does not come into the light should it be exposed for what it is; thus, evil rejected the light (see John 1).  How then can a faith, which is founded supremely upon Christ, who is the light, be marketable to an evil world?

The only answers I have been able to come up with are this:

1. It is not being marketed to it's fullest extent
2. People do not know what is being marketed to them
3. Our faith is marketable, because it is not founded on Christ

While all three of these are certainly true, and there may be others.  I would suggest that the first two stem from the third.  The reason Christians and the rest of American culture can get along so well and be marketed to one another is they are altogether too much alike.  If Christians would really live and act like we ought to (salt and light, see Matthew 5:13-18), then the reaction of our culture to Christianity would be entirely different.  To be a Christian and be involved in youth groups, FCA, and other organizations would cease to be something cool merritting a scholarship for college.