Understanding Our Freedom

In a few days, those of us living in the US will be celebrating yet another 4th of July–freedom and independence from British rule.

But while enjoying new found freedom from British rule, the US continued its inhumane enslavement of other human beings.  Some would question this kind of freedom, and they would be right.  No one is truly free untill all are.freedom-in-christ-still

The ideology to enslave other human beings is itself a form of slavery.  Why?  Because Creator God didn’t intend for us to enslave and mistreat other human beings.  Such way of thinking must be attributed to our fallen state.  There’s no other way to put it.  It’s a distortion of God’s good creation and therefore both sinful and sacrilegious.

Writing to the Christians at Galatia, the Apostle Paul says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (5:1).  These believers were allowing themselves to be enslaved to the distorted gospel of some–a gospel which Paul calls no gospel at all (1:6-9).

You see, the word gospel means “good news.”  To be enslaved by the distorted ideas and opinions of others, claiming to be Christian, is not good news at all.  Therefore, the first thing we need to understand about our freedom in Christ is that we’re been freed from the enslaving ideas and opinions of others.

And now that we’ve been freed from the enslaving ideas and opinions of others, we can now enjoy the life of freedom that Christ has called us to.  Yes, we have been freed from something, but this new found freedom is for something, namely, Christ and his love.  “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (5:13).

Right now, our nation is reeling from racial tensions.  It seems like every week we’re address some issue that is racially motivated.  Why these tensions?  Are we doing enough to bring about racial healing and reconciliation?  In the past, the church has been known to lead the way in breaking barriers and building bridges to further the well-being of humanity.  Well, is the America church doing all that she could to address the issue of race, which continues to plague this nation?

And as we approach this 4th of July weekend, we are forever mindful and grateful of the sacrifice of those who have given their lives for freedom in this nation’s history.  But let’s also be mindful of the one who gave his life for our freedom–a freedom from–sin, the distorted ideas and opinions of others–and freedom for Christ and his love.

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On Reading ‘American Sniper’

American_Sniper_bookA few hours ago I read that the legendary Clint Eastwood directed movie America Sniper is 2015’s #1 movie so far.

I happen to be reading this #1 New York Times bestseller.  It’s an intriquing read for sure–beginning with Chris Kyle’s recruiting and training to be a Navy Seal and eventually a sniper.

When tempted to put down the book and skip ahead to the movie (which is now on DVD), I’m reminded of Chris Kyle’s time in sniper school and the need for professional discipline, which, when translated means: to succeed as a stalker (which is so crucial for a sniper), the student must take his time.

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St. Paul, Christians, and Love

On more than one occasion we find the Apostle Paul baring his soul to the churches and individuals he writes to (2 Corinthians 11:28).  And having been known by Christ, it was Paul’s earnest desire to see every community of Christ followers walk in the way of Christ and his love.

For St. Paul, love was the chief Christian ethic.  Love is what binds together all the other virtues like glue (Colossians 3:14).  Without love, our spiritual gifts, our knowledge, and all our sacrifices prove to be empty, prove to be nothing.  And in the Christian triad of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest of these (1 Corinthians 13:13).

So when we come to a text like Romans 13:8-10, we should not be surprised at the weight given to love in our Christian gatherings.  Paul wants us more than everything else to walk in the way of love: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (v. 8).  We should let this one sink in, rather than gloss over it.

Paul goes on to quote from the Ten Commandments and then adds this, “And whatever other command there may be, [they] are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”  Why Paul, because “Love does no harm to a neighbor.”  We will not harm one another by committing adultery, by stealing, by coveting, and so on.

Imagine what our nation, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, communities, and our families would look like, if we, as Christians, were taking the lead to model this love St. Paul is describing here!

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Is Jesus the Fulfillment of Ezekiel’s Promise of the Restored Temple?

Perhaps this depends on whom you ask.

I use to be an premillennial dispensationalist.  Then I moved to the historic premillennial position.  With the pre– behind me, I’m now a happy A-millennialist.

Meaning, I once read Ezekiel’s promise of the restored temple as a premillennial dispensationalist (Ezekiel 43-44).

So I’m reading N.T. Wright’s How God Became King, and he throws this curveball, if you will:

Jesus has dramatically upstaged the Temple as the place where God now dwells.  This is the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s promise of the restored Temple” (emphasis added).

And while Wright didn’t elaborate, I’ve found it rather interesting, asking myself, “Could it be?”

Rather than dismissing Wright’s interpretation as novel and therefore suspicious, it’s something I wish to explore in greater detail.

Posted in Amillennialism, Dispensationalism, N.T. Wright, Premillennialism | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Reading the Gospels as Political Theology?

Were the writers of the gospels, writing, at some levels, as political theologians–arguing, “Jesus is Lord, not Caesar”?

At some levels, I believe we should read the gospels as political theology.   I have three reasons (it’s fine to disagree):  First, when we consider the messianic expectations of the Old Testament people of God, particularly their prophets, this is hard to deny.  We see this in Psalm 2.  Second, the New Testament writers are clearly engaged in anit-imperial rhetoric, through something of a holy subversion, “Jesus is Lord, not Caesar” (Psalm 2 is either referred to or echoed in several places in the NT).  Finally, Jesus himself believed that he was returning YHWH’s rule to the earth–“on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; cf. Luke 4:42-44; John 18:28-40).

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