LentBlog 2015, Day 9: On the Creativity of God

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ[a]—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

NRSV


Lots to say here about this passage… vv 8-9, for example, are one of the prominent passages succinctly defining salvation by grace in the New Testament.

What’s catching my attention tonight, though, is verse 10… we are what God has made us. And we are created (anew) in Christ Jesus for good works.  To me, on this night, the creativity of God comes tot the forefront. We serve a God who creates, and it turns out God is always creating something new. God is a creative God. He makes stuff. He creates something out of nothing.. all the time. And God is creating (and re-creating) us, in Christ, for good works. Elsewhere Paul says to be “in Christ” means there is a new creation.

Now, the thing about “new” is that “new” can be threatening. New means change. New means something was there that wasn’t there before, and it wiggles, moves, acts, makes weird noises and does different stuff than we’re used to. New can scare the begebers out of us. New pushes our boundaries, challenges our perceptions, calls out our laziness and apathy, and makes us uncomfortable. It forces our hand, really. New forces us to face the fact that we aren’t really our own, and neither is the work of our hands.  It’s not really mine… it’s God’s. We’ve simply been given stewardship of it for a while, to put it to use, partnering with God to create something…. well, new. God’s desire to create something new will bring to light very quickly how emotionally (and otherwise) tied we are to the “old” or the status quo.  The question then becomes, “has the status quo become so important to me that I actually find myself fearful of or even actively resisting the new thing God wants to create in and through me/us?

It seems to me Yoda was right at least on one thing: Fear is a path to the Dark Side.  And instead of living out of (and getting our butts kicked by) fear… in my personal life, our family, our church, and in the world… we could celebrate the new things God is doing and rejoice He’s not finished creating.

Blessings,

Mark

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LentBlog 2015, Day 5: A Church with a Reputation

Ephesians 1:15-17.

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[e] toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him…

NRSV


I read more than just these three verses tonight, but the later section spoke of something I want to consider more tomorrow and hit in another post.

What kinda got me tonight was when Paul says he has heard of the Ephesians’ faith in Jesus and love towards all the saints. It turns out the Christians in Ephesus had a reputation. In their case, having a reputation was a good thing. I was reminded of the passage in John 13 where Jesus taught his disciples the world would know they are his disciples because of their love. Sounds like the folks at Ephesus were known by their faith and love. Not a bad rep to have.

In light of this, can I say what I’m tired of and convicted by this evening? I’m tired of hearing about churches (and larger denominational structures) who have a reputation of unfaithfulness and not love. I’m tired of hearing about churches where dysfunction is rampant because folks love getting their way more than they love the Lord and their neighbors. I’m tired of the reputation churches have as places where people fight over stupid non-essential junk. I’m tired of some churches that flail around, beating the air with their fists, because sometimes their pastors are asleep at the wheel. I’m tired of seeing churches who are being led out of fear and not faith and love. I’m tired of hearing from my non-Christian friends the reason they aren’t involved in church is because of how the church lives out its so-called faith. ::end rant::

I’m convicted by these verses, because I am so. totally. ready. to pastor a church with an Ephesians kind of reputation, and our church plant isn’t off the ground yet. I’m convicted because I, too, live out of fear sometimes… fear of failure, among other things.

So let me ask you, so you can join me in this self- and church- examination: What’s your church’s reputation?

Blessings,

Mark