Posts Tagged With: glory

1 Corinthians 10: To God Be The Glory

There was a real question in Paul’s mind about the degree to which a Christian could follow the cultural norm.  That by itself is a point some Christians in this world need to bear in mind.  If we think we can be an everyday Christian and an everyday American or Canadian or Filipino or Saudi Arabian, we are kidding ourselves.  Nonetheless, there were still many details to work out about this point, and the Corinthians were slowly sorting through the details with Paul’s help.

Paul gives a foundational principle for ethics in this chapter, though:

So, then, whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything to God’s glory. (10:31)

As a Christian sorts out how to live everyday life, there is a guiding principle that is more important that was is lawful (c.f., 10:23), more important that what is right or wrong, more important that what one has the right to do, more important that even our own preferences and desires.  Before asking what we want to do, we need to ask whether something brings glory to God.  Does this make God look good?  Does this draw people closer to God or further away?

The Corinthians needed to bear that in mind as they determined what kinds of food to eat, and when and where to eat it.  They need to remember this when they lived in community with each other and influenced the behavior of their brothers and sisters.  They needed to remember this as they decided how to interact socially in church and how to view the worth and acceptance of others.  Does this bring glory to God?

What would be different if we today used this same guiding principle?  

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1 Corinthians 1: “Christians are Ignorant”

“Christians are ignorant.”

“Christians are weak.”

“Christians are escapists.”

Ever heard those charges?  More and more, these insults are thrown around as simple truths.

Christians sometimes don’t accept the theories and beliefs that others hold as settled fact.  Some Christians even talk about science like it is an enemy of faith (which might just be a bit ignorant, frankly).  Christians can be viewed by some as weak when we don’t fight back or refuse to pursue our own glory and advancement.  And to those who don’t accept it, our belief in an afterlife seems like nothing more than wishful thinking and a way to escape our frustrations and disappointments.

The reality of the situation, according to Paul as he starts 1 Corinthians, is that God did intend for it to be this way.  God has always chosen the unconventional way of working.  Only criminals die on crosses; the gospel was scandalous to Jews.  And humans can’t kill gods; the gospel sounded foolish to Greeks.  Yet this is exactly the message with which God sent his ambassadors into the world.  Why?

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the shrewdness of the clever I’ll abolish. (1:19)

God’s folly is wiser than humans, you see, and God’s weakness is stronger than humans. (1:25)

God gladly plays the underdog.  He’ll take the B-string.  He’ll do things that sound backwards and foolish, but . . . when they bring about change, when those things make all the difference, when they render other things ineffectual, it will be God and His wisdom that stands supreme.

So, yes, for a time we may very well seem ignorant, weak, and even like escapists.  God’s wisdom is still being revealed in its glory.

When has your faith made you feel inferior?

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Luke 10: Celebrate The Right Person

I guess I am still stuck on yesterday’s message.

Look: I’ve given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and every other power of the enemy.  Nothing will ever be able to harm you.  But — don’t celebrate having spirits under your authority.  Celebrate this, that your names are written in heaven. (10:19-20)

It is just plain easy to have pride in or “celebrate” what we have been able to do for and because of God.  In the apostles’ case that meant the ability to exorcise demons.  But Jesus’ warning is unequivocal.  Don’t celebrate what you can do, rather what was done for you.  It is not about your gifts, rather the gift that was given you.  Tell others not about your authority, rather about the authority of God, the power by which we serve.

May God’s name and praise be always on our lips!

What caught your eye in this chapter?

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Luke 9: Take Up Your Cross Soberly

I was watching again the first of The Lord of the Rings movies recently (notable because I almost never watch the same movie twice), and I was struck by how Gandalf was both drawn to and terrified by the ring.  When Bilbo leaves it behind, does Gandalf want to take it up and wear it and even use it “for good” as he says later to Frodo?  Absolutely!  The ring is such that any being would want it.  Yet, Gandalf will never touch the ring.  He knows, no matter how good his intentions, the ring will corrupt him and, therefore, destroy him.

I see the same thing happening in this passage.  Not in Jesus.  He has it figured out.  But like Gandalf was teaching Frodo to fear the corrupting power of the ring, I see Jesus teaching his disciples that power can easily corrupt.

I see an earthly king, Herod the tetrarch, scared that he might lose his power to this new man everyone is talking about.  I see people who flock to Jesus for whatever his power can give them, whether healing, wholeness or food.  Who could blame them?  I see disciples given power to heal and exorcise, who are excited to tell Jesus what they have done (9:10, 36) but who want to press pause on ministry to tell glory-stories about themselves (9:12).  I see Peter marveling at the power and glory of Jesus on the Transfiguration and glad that he gets to be there to see it (9:33), as if the marvelous sight was the point itself.  And at the lowest point in the whole chapter, I see disciples arguing over which of them is the greatest, as if the point of the power they have been given in this chapter was for their own glory (9:46).  Then they are ready to use that power to call down destruction of people who reject Jesus (9:54).  They have drunk the heady draught of power and have become intoxicated.

In the midst of all of this is a teacher who forbids his followers to tell others what they have seen and learned (9:21), who tells them he is getting ready to die, not revolt against Rome (9:22, 44).  Here we have a Master who practically tries to dissuade people who want to follow him, saying the cost is very high (9:57-62).  And also in this chapter are these famous reminders that the way of Christ is about sacrifice, self-denial, and service not power and glory:

“If any of you want to come after me,” he said, “you must say no to yourselves, and pick up your cross every day, and follow me.  If you want to save your life, you’ll lose it; but if you lose your life because of me, you’ll save it.  What good will it do you if you win the entire world, but lose or forfeit your own self?” (9:23-25)

“Whoever is the least among you — that’s the one who is great.” (9:48b)

Power only ever belongs in the hands of those who can carry it for a while, for the benefit of others not themselves, and who honestly see the “cross” they carry for what it is: an instrument of possible destruction and a vehicle of potential grace.  We dare not take up the cross of ministry, with the power and glory it can bring, lightly.

What stood out to you in this chapter?

Categories: Luke | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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