Posts Tagged 'God’s Love'

Roaming Through Romans: Love Enacted

Roaming Through Romans: Love Enacted Sermon Audio Here

Romans 12:9-21

Dearest Jimmy,
No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you!
Yours forever, Marie.
P.S. And congratulations on winning the state lottery.

How Do We Live Out The Lord’s Love?

Participate in Acts of Agape ~ Romans 12:9-13

  • 9 “love without play-acting”; “hate=actively abhor” LIVER
  • 10 actively seek to love;
  • 11 look for opportunities
  • 12 human BE-INGs; here’s how we are to BE
  • 13 ALL ONE SENTENCE let your love be like this!

Resonate Acts of Empathy ~ Romans 12:14-16

  • 14 speak good TO (not just about); INTERACT!
  • 15 notice what state others are in and JOIN THEM
  • 16 “be allalon/together minded” NOT just “be willing to associate, but ACTUALLY HANG OUT WITH”

Terminate Acts of Retribution ~ Romans 12:17-20

  • 17 payback: not even once! Plan ahead how to deal well
  • 18 participle (cf. 9-13) of peace: be peaceful
  • 19 give up your right to revenge; that’s God’s job
  • 20 if ANY enemy hungers, YOU feed them; they won’t be able to take it (but don’t be spiteful)

Romans 12:21~ Let The Lord’s Love Live Large: don’t let the bad beat you: overcome=take the higher ground!

Covenant Concepts ~ Israel: God Rescues from Rebellion

Covenant Concepts ~ Israel: God Rescues from Rebellion

Ephesians 2:1-10

In the Old Testament reading, Numbers 21:4-9, Israel rebels against God, and pays the penalty. But God also provides a rescue from that penalty, if Israel will only choose to use it.

God Frames Relationships With Covenant Concepts

Rebellion Results in Wrath
Ephesians 2:1-3

  • v1/2 spiritual death the result of following the wrong ruler
  • v3 following our flesh responsible for penalty
  •      (if we trespass, we are held liable; if we go into debt, it must be paid)

Relationship Results in Rescue
Ephesians 2:4-10

  • v4/5 God brings us to life; we don’t choose it
  • v6/7 God raises us in life; He doesn’t leave us in our sin
  • v8/9 Grace is God’s choice; faith is God’s means of delivery; we receive it as a gift, not a payment
  • v10 CATCH THIS: “to/in/with good works” is indirect object ~ receives the action;
    that means that we aren’t created to DO the good works near as much as we are to EXPERIENCE the good works;
    peripatéō, to walk around in them with God

God rescues us from our Rebellion WITH HIS PRESENCE; look to the Cross and LIVE.

“The Shack” thoughts

Okay, let me start off by saying that there will probably be spoilers in this blog. If you have not read The Shack, and don’t want to know anything about what’s in the book, you should know that I think it’s a wonderful read, and well worth it. Now, to keep from spoiling the book, stop reading this blog, and go read The Shack.

I’ve been asked to comment on some theological implications of the book, and I’ll try to do that here before any spoilers are revealed. The thing to remember about The Shack is that IT IS FICTION. It’s similar to reading Pilgrim’s Progress, or The Chronicles of Narnia. NO DOCTRINE should ever be based on what is found in this book; Scripture alone is all we’ll ever need for our rule of faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16).

THAT being said, I think that The Shack is a wonderful way to get a different point of view on God’s love for us. It’s my opinion that very often, we become quite comfortable with how WE think God already loves us and deals with us according to what we already know. This book turns THAT concept on its ear, and tweaks it often!

For those people who accuse The Shack of heresy, I think they’ve completely missed the point. The Shack isn’t purporting to be God’s Word, but rather a story about a man who encounters God. It’s as heretical as the Neil Simon play “God’s Favorite”, or as Michelangelo’s painting of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They are *representations* designed to get the viewer to THINK about God. And that’s just what The Shack does – it gets you to think about God. Okay, ready for my thoughts? Here they come…

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SPOILERS AHEAD:

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Still here?

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Okay, you were warned.

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My thoughts on The Shack won’t make much sense if you don’t know where I stand theologically (because The Shack is most definitely a book with theological implications). Firstly, I’m a follower of Jesus (Acts 24.14). More specifically, I’d be placed in the Reformed branch of Christianity (Somewhere between Calvin and Zwingli, but with more of a social/intellectual permissive bent, a.k.a. Clement of Alexandria. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, then you could sum it up by thinking that I’m theologically centrist.I won’t waste your time (and mine) by listing all the things I am not: logically, that would be a near-infinite list.

The Shack: I think it’s a wonderful book, and there are a number of reasons why, which I’ll deal with in no particular order:

* The narrative itself is gripping. The protagonist, Mack, has suffered the loss of one of his children, and reading about how he deals with his grief was captivating. The author has done a very good job of describing what it must be like to lose someone close, and the resulting struggles with God’s sovereignty (“why would God do this to me”). Following Mack as he struggles to get through his issues made the book a page-turner for me.

* Theological paradigms are challenged. SPOILER ALERT: There’s no doubt that this book is basically Trinitarian in nature. God is portrayed as Three Persons, just like Christian Orthodoxy would demand. However, the truth that God is NOT HUMAN is very strongly emphasized in this book. Therefore, the pictures that many of us in the West would prefer to use in interpreting what the Trinitarian God would be like are NOT USED. God the Father (Papa) is portrayed as a black woman: “For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling back into your religious conditioning.” (p. 93)

And THAT is the heart of the book – it’s a narrative of one man’s encounter with God, but specifically NOT the “religious conditioning” God that so many of us are used to. Jesus certainly comes across as recognizable (he’s a Jewish carpenter with a well-stocked workshop), but the Holy Spirit is described as a woman named Sarayu. “Since there were three of them, maybe this was a Trinity sort of thing. But two women and a man and none of them white? Then again, why had he naturally assumed that God would be white?” (pg. 87)

* The book’s literary background is theologically broad. Personally, I think this is a great thing, and I’m very comfortable with it. But those people who are allergic to the idea that women can be in positions of leadership are positively going to have fits over this book. Specifically, there are THREE very powerful female figures in The Shack: SPOILER ALERT: Papa (God the Father in a female aspect), Sarayu (God the Spirit in a female aspect), and Sophia (the Personification of Wisdom – this concept is very present in the Apocrypha, and in older Christian literature, but not hardly mentioned in the last 200 years in my opinion).

* There are some wonderful “geek” moments in the book. Learning that God really likes fractals made me smile so much my face hurt.

* Finally, the book was very cathartic for me. Mack has a very difficult emotional relationship with his alcoholic father, and that so closely echoed my own experience that I had some difficulty seeing certain pages through tears. If you’ve had a good relationship with your own father, Thank God for that in your own life.


Pastor Ed Backell

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