Saturday, June 20, 2009

The ordinary times of life

I recently read Matthew’s excellent post, "Founded on the Rock." As I thought about what he said, a new picture of Jesus emerged.

The Bible takes Jesus’ three and a half years of ministry and condenses it into a few chapters. The result is that we think Jesus’ life as well as that of his disciples was filled with one exciting event after another. Maybe if the gospel writers had instead given us a daily log of activities, we would have found that there were days and maybe even weeks when nothing really happened. Maybe there were days when life for them seemed pretty hum drum.

Jesus had a physical body subject to all of the limitations we have. No human body is able to sustain a constant life of excitement and adrenaline pumping through it. I really suspect that daily life for him and his disciples consisted primarily of relationship building with an occasional miracle thrown in. Yet our tendency and it may have also been that of the gospel writers is to focus on the unusual and the exciting events of his life.

As a result, we tend to think that the normal christian life is one filled with activity and drama . . . a continual adrenaline rush. We look at our lives and compare them to the fast moving pace of the gospels and think we’ve missed it because we’re not constantly healing the sick and casting out demons and we forget the people who daily cross our paths who leave having been touched by Father’s love in a special way.

We tend to view the Bible as a blueprint for what our lives should look like so, when we don’t match the blueprint, we start to think there’s something wrong with us and that we're not living an authentic christian life. Religion's focus on the miraculous in my opinion contributes to this misunderstanding. Instead, I believe the Bible was meant to be a sharing of various people's journeys and what they learned along the way regarding their relationship with God and how they related to others.

As Matthew pointed out, in the beginning we may experience constant joy and excitement but over time our emotions will level out because what was once new and exciting is now normal for us. In other words, we're now living the normal christian life so it no longer seems dramatic and exciting. Occasionally God may interject himself into our lives in an unusual way and we once again feel the excitement but we can’t base our relationship with him on those times or their absences.

I love how Matthew phrased it. He said: “Maybe worshiping God doesn't mean I have great loving feelings and excitement all the time. Maybe true worship is during the ordinary days of life when I feel nothing.”

This is an encouraging post and to read it in its entirety, follow this link.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The law is a package deal

Darin Hufford’s podcast “Giving in the Wild” has generated a lot of discussion regarding whether tithing applies to us today as New Testament believers. As I read the comments, it occurred to me that the Old Testament laws are a package deal.

Although there were 613 different laws that comprise the law, God treated all 613 as a single unit. The Israelites couldn’t just pick and choose which ones they were going to obey and then ignore the rest. Each of the 613 had to be kept perfectly or the person was considered to have broken the entire law.

The same is true today. If you choose to put yourself under any part of the law, you’ve bound yourself to keep all of it. In the discussion about Darin’s podcast, one person was adamant that the law on tithing had to be obeyed. If that’s the person’s mindset, then she needs to keep the law on tithing PERFECTLY. Just bringing a tenth of her income to church and then putting it in the offering plate does NOT fulfill the law on tithing perfectly since the law on tithing is a series of very different laws. In addition to tithing, that person has also bound herself to keep the other 612 laws.

How stressful and how impossible!

No one can keep the law perfectly and no one ever has except for Jesus. He’s the only person who perfectly fulfilled the law.

The good news is that God never untended for us to keep the law. Its purpose was to enable us to see our inability and to cause us to come to Jesus. So, when we attempt to keep the law, we’ve rejected Jesus’ sacrifice in that area of our lives.

Jesus came to set us free from the Old Testament law with its impossible demands. Today, we're no longer bound by the Old Testament law. Instead, we're now bound by the New Testament law of love. No longer are we bound to an endless cycle of striving and defeat by trying to follow a long list of do's and don’ts . Instead, we're now free to follow love.

God is after our hearts. He put his law in our hearts and has filled us with himself. Now, we give cheerfully because his love in our hearts.

I’ve written several posts on the subject of tithing and giving. To read those, follow the links given below.

Learning to give out in the wild
Majoring in the minors
Great resources to learn more about tithing