I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of the eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.

Dostoevsky, as quoted in Tim Keller’s Reason for God.

One of my good friends from Furman just recently kicked off a blog.  He’s a smart guy and his first post made me think.  Here’s another juxtaposition — this one dealing with unity in the Gospel:

Bearing

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:1-3)

United

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (1 Cor 1:10)

Accursing

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal 1:8-10)

Note: These types of posts are intentionally vague.  My goal is to spurn thoughts and even comments and conversation.  Feel free to share your thoughts.

I have just finished reading through Ephesians and a particular passage that struck me in a fresh way was Ephesians 4:15-16:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

We’re called to be “speaking the truth in love” so as “to grow up…into him.”  Our growth in Christ is a community project, andthere is much more to “speaking the truth in love” than just talking about truth.  The Greek could more precisely be translated “truthing in love.”  The speech aspect is implied.  What I took from this is that we are to be seeking to speak truth gently to our brothers and sisters in Christ, while also aggressively pursuing truth from them in love.  We want to hear truth about ourselves, but we also need to hear truth about the Gospel, truth about Christ, and truth about the cross.  We suffer greatly from short-term memory loss when it comes to our own sin and remembering God’s promises, so we need others constantly truthing us with love.  This is how God has designed us.  When we fail to speak and seek truth to/for/from others then we’re destined for failure.  The picture below illustrates this:

HT: icanhazcheeseburger

Here are two different forms of media contemplating the so-called “Prosperity Gospel;”

“God Wants Me To Be Rich” an article from Portfolio.com (HT: Challies)

“A Bunch of Crap Called ‘Gospel'” a video of John Pipper (HT: Purgatorio)

Comments welcome.

Josh Hamilton turned quite a few heads the other night when he performed so incredibly at the home run derby.  A friend of mine told me about this, but I found this article from ESPN.com about Hamilton’s story.  It seems like Christ is doing some incredible things in his life now, let’s pray that Josh Hamilton will continue to persevere.  Read the article, it’s an awesome story.

This may sound crazy, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my path to the big leagues. I wouldn’t even change the 26 tattoos that cover so much of my body, even though they’re the most obvious signs of my life temporarily leaving the tracks. You’re probably thinking, Bad decisions and addiction almost cost him his life, and he wouldn’t change anything? But if I hadn’t gone through all the hard times, this whole story would be just about baseball. If I’d made the big leagues at 21 and made my first All-Star team at 23 and done all the things expected of me, I would be a big-time baseball player, and that’s it.

Baseball is third in my life right now, behind my relationship with God and my family. Without the first two, baseball isn’t even in the picture. Believe me, I know.

HT: Challies

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church and prayed to receive Christ when I was fairly young (eight years-old).  I heard the Gospel preached and taught with several different methods, but it really ended up being more about relationships with family and friends personalizing the presentations that God used to call me to himself.

If you have a church background kind of like me (conservative evangelical) then you too may have heard the Gospel presented in a rather formulaic fashion.  At my church there were the ABC’s (Admit, Believe, Commit) of Vacation Bible School; there was an image that was preached and illustrated of God creating me for him, Jesus dying to bridge the gap that my sin caused between us, and he was now knocking at the door of my heart waiting for me to answer; and of course there were Salvation bracelets, which always had different colors but the same basic meaning (I remember when they replaced the black bead for a clear bead when referring to sin so as not to appear racist).  Our pastor had his own “Gospel According to Big Red” where he used a pack of gum to share the Gospel (and a pack of chewing gum).  There was a fair amount of creativity, and the various presentations helped me understand.  However, as I grew older and began to try and use some of these methods and others to share the Gospel with friends (new methods including the FAITH method and an Evangecube) I felt comfortable enough sharing (as if anyone ever feels comfortable trying to share), and some folks even “responded,” but there was little to no lasting fruit.

These presentations all had a few basic points in common that I used to understand as “The Gospel,” long before I had any real concept of what justification by faith or propitiation or other important ideas that initially go right over most of our heads.  Tim Keller recently wrote an incredibly insightful article about what the Gospel is and shows what many good Gospel-preaching evangelicals have explained as “The Gospel” is actually a presentation of the Gospel, which may or may not be the best presentation for the various cultures we live in.  He addresses these issues in more depth in an audio message from the Dwell NYC conference.  Check them both out.  It is very helpful in making the Gospel clear.

NOTE: I am not AGAINST any form of Gospel presentation, though I believe some are more relevant today than others, and I do feel we can rely too much on formulas and not enough on the content of the Gospel and building relationships.  This post is to encourage thinking about Keller’s points, not to knock on those using any given method or presentation.