Sunday, May 31, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
One of the images used to describe the Lord's people is the 'bride of Christ'. In wedding ceremonies the bride is often beautified with dress and jewelry, her hair is done and makeup is applied. She is radiant as she walks down the aisle and her grace is evident. She is attractive in her beauty and in her character, her purity. She is so beautiful.
Does that really sound like the church?
Of course we all know that the 30 minutes a bride stands before a group of individuals is not her every day persona. She is an office worker, a teacher, a doctor, a student, a lawyer, a homemaker. She has her good days and her bad days, her moments of exhiliration and her stretches of drought and normalcy. Throughout all of this though her husband remains committed, he did not just marry the gilded and adorned beauty that walked down the aisle to meet him. No he married her largely for her consistent character and faitfulness to their marriage vow.
One thing I have come to notice over the years is that married couples who are passionate about each other are beautiful. In their age and their years they acquire a beauty as they fall ever deeper in love with the other. It is a beauty that spills out into the laps of those that are near them, they inspire others towards connectedness in their relationships and a deep intimacy. This is a love not easily feigned nor imitated, because it is a love that knows beauty is more than cosmetic, it is it's own language of knowing the other.
The church is not perfect, we are after all human. However as we continue to fall in love with our spouse, with our lover and creator our love can become a beautiful thing. We do our love with Christ a dis-service when we describe it solely in the realm of the platonic or brotherly. The relationship of God's people (our own relationship) with Christ is to be passionate, romantic, intimate and deeply connected. Perhaps if we really embraced this truth the church could begin to really be the church.
I would argue that largely the church today is concerned with cosmetic beauty, and as a result we end up looking worn and trashy. The world is to look at the church, to smell the perfume of our relationship with Christ, and to be attracted to that covenant. They are to see a transforming power at work in the world, but instead they only see human political parties and hypocritical nationalists. Through our actions we have not shown that God can change the hearts of men, we have instead shown that God likes to boycott Target and water board Muslims. We do our groom a disservice when we pursue after influence among the powers of the world, when after all we are already betrothed to the Lord of All, the Lamb of God.
She is so beautiful, and the beauty is held in the intimant closeness of Christ. We must not look elsewhere for our affirmation and power or we will surely become an adulteress.
Posted by David Brush at 12:38 PM
Monday, May 11, 2009
Posted by Kevin Lum at 2:55 PM
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
You may have already seen this video about the spread of Islam around the globe, but if not watch it then consider how we should respond.
This video certainly doesn't surprise me. I couldn't have told you these numbers, but the pattern of cultural migration and transformation are consistent throughout history. If you look at the immigration rates of Hispanics and Latinos into the US they are very similar to the Muslim numbers in Europe. Within a generation the US will be one of the largest Hispanic nations in the world. Immigration and higher birth rates have fed a massively growing population in our country.
What we are seeing right now with Muslims in many ways mirrors what we saw in the first 400 years of the church. When Constantine and those who followed him first tolerated and then legalized Christianity many people believe he was simply seeing the signs of the times. The early church simply out populated the rest of the Roman Empire because of their healthier lifestyles, conversion rates, and respect for life.
Now we are seeing Muslims do the same thing throughout Western Civilization.
How much should this concern us as Christians?
Islam is moving into countries where the Church has for the most part already collapsed. It doesn't really matter if it is secularism, humanism or Islam, these areas are desperate for a renewal of the church. So in some regards this isn't any new concern for us. Whether people are secular, post-Christian, or Muslim, they still need Christ.
We also need to become more informed regarding Islam. If you look at the growing, now 9 million strong population of Muslims in this country you find that the culture and faith they practice is radically different than the fundamentalist regimes that have promoted and encouraged terrorism. Within Western countries you are also seeing the same things happening to Muslim culture that happened with Christianity. As generations become settled, absorb the dominant culture, make money, seek education, and are ingrained into the society secularism, love of money, and all the same trappings that we are fighting in the church become battles as well. Do you really think that Muslims won't fall to the same temptations to compromise their faith that the church has?
Not that there aren't fundamentalists in this country, but for the most part Muslims in this country are of a much more peaceful brand of Islam. Let's not go over board with our characterizations of Muslims. Muslims aren't scary. They are people, created by God in his image, and Jesus died for them. That is how we must view them.
Further, if you look at the growth of the church around the world, in Africa and Asia especially, it is not as if the church is in decline globally. It is in serious decline in Western Countries but exploding in others.
Should these numbers scare us? No, unequivocally no! Why? Well I read the ending of the book, and in the end, the Kingdom of God is victorious. The spread of Islam provides great challenges to the church, but our God is far bigger than these challenges. The church isn't going anywhere. So as the world changes around us let's be the ones to think proactively and positively about how we as the church will meet the challenge of the global spread of Islam. Let's not be scared, or try to slap a label on a massive and incredibly diverse population of people spread throughout the globe. God is in command, and nothing will defeat the spread of His Kingdom.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39
Posted by Greg Arthur at 12:34 PM