Thursday, July 31, 2008

Are sins forgiven or held against us?

1. How would you reconcile these verses:

1 Thes. 4:3-6, which says of sexual immorality and improper conduct "The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you." There are also several places where Jesus return is described as a moment when each person will be repaid according to what he has done.

Versus any of the verses describing what seem to be complete forgiveness from God, 1 John 1:9 being an obvious example "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness," or the verse that says "as far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our sins from us."

The only verse I'm aware that seems to synthesize the notion that God both forgives sin yet also holds us accountable for sin is in 1 Corinthians 3, where it says that our work will be tested with fire, and if we've built with poor material we will suffer loss, though our souls will be saved.

Do you have any thoughts on this? It seems to be important how I approach this because it has a very different effect on me whether I think about my sins being completely off my record versus thinking that I will be punished for them. For me, each brings about a fairly distinct reaction. I've been focusing on the idea that all our sins were dealt with in Christ, with the corresponding idea that we joyfully follow him. But I'm aware of other approaches where people are encouraged the fear God and not sin (not that I'm saying we don't believe the perspectives are mutually exclusive, but it's a matter of emphasis, I suppose).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

City of God

I'm listening to City of God, by St. Augustine, as an audiobook.

In short, it's gold.

Augustine writes to address an idea in Rome that the reason it was recently sacked is because the Christians made the Romans stop worshiping their old Gods.

It's book full of wit and argumentation. For example, Augustine starts by saying, 'so, you think your Roman gods would have saved you. Well, then how come they got deposed by Christianity in the first place?'

Some bullet points:

-Augustine writes and thinks in a style surprisingly familiar to my Evangelical mind. This is reassuring because some would have us believe that time and location have made it hard or impossible to understand the writings of long ago. It's clear to me Augustine and I practice the same faith and understand it in the same way.

-Augustine unapologetically tells the non-Christians that they've just plain got it wrong. It's a style I appreciate, and all the more for its current unpopularity.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Waits For Us

My once and perhaps future worship leader, Jose Skinner, has a haunting, tragi-whimsical song posted on his blog, which I understand to be about the frustration and yearing of the already/not yet.

Listent to it here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Here’s a musical, rhythmic poem by a Jesuit writer, Gerard Manley Hopkins. His poems are particularly delightful to read aloud so that you can feel the brilliance of his metrics on your tongue. And it even ends with a soul stirring Christological point.

"As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame"

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring;
like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves--goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is--
Chríst--for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure

My current worship leader is writing a story on her blog somewhat in the format of a choose your own adventure story. The writing is really tasty.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Christians live not under compulsion, but from a cheerful heart

"Each man should give what he has decided to give in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:7)

I think this applies to more than just our money (which is the context of this verse), but rather our whole Christian life and service. Since God has already taken care of our eternal redemption, doing good isn't a matter of compulsion (do this or else burn!). And that creates the possibility of our freely and cheerfully giving ourselves to God, in whatever aspect of our life.