There has been a lot of banter about the Jesus is greater than religion video posted on youtube a while back.  And while Bethke (the cool dude in the video) brings up some good points he feeds into an idea that basically equates anything that smells like organized religion with everything that smells period.  Works great with the “I’m spiritual just not religious” crowd that feeds on the Golden Corral buffet of theology and spirituality.

I came across an old letter this week that helps the cynic in me to see the beauty and blessing that is the fellowship of those who, while broken, are committed to living out their faith together.  Around the year A.D. 130, roughly 100 years after the death of Christ, a well spoken Aristeides sent word to Emperor Hadrian regarding a growing sect known as Christians.  Here is part of what he wrote:

Now the Christians, O King…have the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ engraven on their hearts, and they observe, looking for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.  They commit neither adultery nor fornication; nor do they bear false witness.  They do not deny a deposit, nor covet other men’s goods; they honor father and mother, and love their neighbors; they give right judgment; and they do not worship idols in the form of man.  They do not unto others that which they would not have done unto themselves.  They comfort such as wrong them, and make friends of them.  They labor to do good to their enemies… As for their servants or handmaids, or their children if any of them has any, they persuade them to become Christians for the love that they have towards them; and when they have become so, they call them without distinction “brethren.” They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan.  He that hath distributeth liberally to him that hat not.  If they see a stranger, the bring him under their roof and rejoice over him, as if it were their own brother;  for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the spirit and in God… And if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs, and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they deliver him. And if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.  For Christ’s sake they are ready to lay down their lives. (A New Eusebius)

Let us live and love like that!

To paraphrase a wise professor I once had; “in our passion to proclaim Jesus to the world it only does harm to bite the hand that has fed you for 2000 years.”  Not only that but it’s speaking out against your own family large though their warts may be.  The overly individualized view of faith in America has an antidote, and it’s the scummy bath water of community that is being thrown out with the baby.

Now that it’s February I thought I’d dust off the blog and get to writing a little.

I’ve heard it said that we always find time for the things we really want to do… well, maybe.  Would that mean that we never find time for the things we don’t want to do?   I hardly think so.  Paul didn’t think so either (see Romans 7).  It is true that our hearts have competing affections and sometimes the competition is so fierce that we become paralyzed with indecision.   Truth is most of us don’t really know what it is we actually want and when we do we have trouble articulating it in concrete terms.  So how does this help us move forward with personal and organizational goals in 2012?  How are those resolutions working out for you so far?

I’ve had a personal interest in the thoughts of Jonathan Edwards since I was in the 9th grade.  This will floor some of you no doubt, but in a public high school in 1989ish my English class read “Sinners in the Hands of and Angry God.”  Do any of my fellow classmates from Trinity High School remember this? (yes the name is Trinity and no it isn’t a Christian school).  While it is amazing to think that the school board allowed such religious literature to be studied, all  I remember is my teacher painting him only in terms of a fire and brimstone preacher who condemned everyone to hell.  Those of you that have read Edwards for yourself know this to be a ridiculously small caricature of  “the greatest mind ever produced on American soil.”

Fast forward to 2003 and I was taking a course on the Theology of Jonathan Edwards by John Gerstner at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary while my wife was great with child number 1.  We both agreed that Jonathan Horn had a nice ring to it but both for different reasons.  At the ripe old age of 19ish Edwards wrote 70 resolutions (you can read them all here) that he would endeavor to keep for the rest of his life.  All of them are worth reading and reflecting on but these two I find especially relevant:

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is,
which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my
forces against it.

We are well into 2012, the Super Bowl is over (thank God!) and politicians are jockeying for your affections… we’ve been reminded again of the vapor that is this frail life in the passing of singing icon Whitney Houston… so “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” to the One who makes all things new.

God speed!