Holy Week Blog 2015, Wednesday: When His Heart was Troubled

John 12:27-36, NRSV

27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people[e] to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah[f] remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”


It had to be discouraging for Him. He taught them, did miracles among them, explained it seemingly every way he could, and still they didn’t really believe. He was facing the cross, and in a few short days all of them would forsake Him, and he knew it. And still He trusted. Still His prayer was for the Father to be glorified in Him– even (and especially) in His death. Still He’s drawing them to believe.

It’s impossible for us to really understand where Jesus is coming from here in this passage. All I think I can really say is that I’m reminded of what Romans says when it calls us to have the faith of Jesus… even (and especially) when we face trouble.

So.

Lord God, I pray for the faith of your Son. I pray when we face troubles, you would grow something in us that’s like Jesus. I pray that your name would be glorified in our lives. I pray for perspective, that you would show us a little bit of the bigger picture, so our light and momentary troubles could be seen as just that. I pray for the light, that you would indeed light our way forward. In the name of your Son, by the presence of the Spirit I pray.

Amen.

Blessings,

Mark

Advertisements

LentBlog Day 9: Something from Nothing.

Romans 4:13-25

So, it’s late on Day 9. I’m quite tired tonight, but Romans is still kicking my tail. I like the discipline this blog is helping me develop. I don’t have much clue how many folks are reading this stuff and have even less of a clue if it’s helping anyone. I do know it’s helping me.  So far, Lent 2013 has been a good thing.

What’s really speaking to me this evening from this passage is this:

“in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.  Hoping against hope, he believed…” (vv. 17-18a)faith

Abraham believed God was a God who creates things that don’t yet exist.  The God who creates something from nothing. God promised him he would be the father of many nations, and all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through him. The fact he was an old man married to an old woman didn’t matter to him. Those facts did not cause him to “weaken in faith.”

 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,  being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (vv. 20-21)

(The word translated “distrust” here is ἀπιστίᾳ, “a-faith” or “not-faith”)

What’s challenging me tonight is… Do I have anything close to that kind of faith? Here’s a man whose faith did not waiver when God promised him something impossible. He truly believed God could create something ex nihilo. It was that faith… faith that didn’t blink in the face of impossible circumstances… faith that believed God no-matter-what…  that faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.

I’m praying for that kind of faith. Because we are counting on God to create something out of nothing  (and we’re the nothing).

LentBlog Day 8: Getting the Horse Before the Cart.

Romans 4:1-12.

There’s so much I want to say from these verses I don’t really know where to begin…

The faith of Abraham was reckoned to him as righteousness. “Righteousness” here is the same root elsewhere (perhaps poorly translated) as “justice” or “justification.”

Paul’s going after religious (particularly Jewish or Jewish Christian) folks with a chip on their shoulder here. It seems in Paul’s day certain church folks liked to down on others who didn’t follow the law. In their opinion, one had to conform to their prescribed moral, ethical, and religious-cultural patterns before God could really work. What resulted was a continuation of the us-vs-them, insiders-outsiders nonsense that was never the intention of the law to begin with.

 

And when I look at a lot of what passes for “Christianity,” I gotta tell you I see the same thing happening. I am so sick and tired of Christian folks acting as if we are at war with the world. I’m tired of the petitions. I’m tired of the smear campaigns. I’m utterly tired of the one-liners on Facebook (one thing I have not missed these last 8 days…).

Because in the midst of a “Christian” mindset that many times acts as if it has a duty to defend, prove, justify, or militantly promote the faith, the apostle Paul taps us on the shoulder.

And he whispers a question into our ear:

“Don’t you remember when Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as Righteousnes?”

It was before he was circumcised.

That thought could (should?) be enough to knock us off our high-horses. The faith of Abraham happened before he would have been considered a faithful Jew in Jesus’ day. Before.

Faith. THEN works. 

Faith. THEN behavior change.

Faith first.

Get the horse in front of the cart.

What that means, brothers and sisters, is that we simply must stop being so offended when folks who do not profess to follow Jesus live as if they’re not following Jesus. We are not at war with the world! (I almost went all-caps there but talked myself down from the ledge.)

We must share with people, partnering with God to open up space for the Spirit to work. It’s very difficult to do that when the only way we ever acknowledge their presence is when we’re griping about their “uncircumcised” lifestyle.

I know it’s a hard pill to swallow. But quite simply, our mission is not to change their behavior. That’s WAY to low a goal. Our mission is to see God change lives. Not so we will be comfortable or have one less thing about which to write our senator, but so death can become life. So darkness can become light. So God can change them from the inside out….

Lord, give us the faith of Abraham. The faith that was reckoned as righteousness ahead of time. Help us to rejoice when that faith begins to happen where we might least expect it.