Christianity

A Matter Of Perspective

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A blog post by Vicki Graff

Recently a daughter was reading Romeo and Juliet.  There was a good deal of giggling. Strange, as that particular story is known as a tragedy.  Why was she laughing?  She chose to read it as a comedy.  Seeing Romeo as a pathetic teen boy and his ‘whining’ as laughable.  Her sister said, “It’s a matter of perspective.”

Perspective is a powerful lens that shapes your attitude and behavior.  I lived much of my life as a pessimist. A firmly embedded habit, it was an unconscious defense against disappointment and sorrow.  I expected and saw the negative side of plans and people. Now, maturing in the Word and faith, I am practicing putting on the lens of the scripture to view life.  

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I’m not talking about thinking positive, name it and claim it, or putting on a Pollyanna perspective.  Rather, living within the Bible's promises.  Believing and applying the truths of Scripture to the events and experiences that we react to all day long.  Criticism that crushes. Trials that feel overwhelming. Grief that consumes. Accusing guilt. Struggles and doubts that discourage and weaken. Sin that separates.  Bitterness to bind us.  Pain and anger to prevent forgiving. A world full of lies and distractions. 

I’m not talking about thinking positive, name it and claim it, or putting on a Pollyanna perspective. Rather, living within the Bible’s promises.

Grasping firmly to the Biblical truth that, as a beloved and treasured child of God, I am forgiven and embraced for a purpose, known and held by Him. Empowered with strength to stand before enemies and temptation. Enabled to love and forgive through His mercy and grace applied.  Living in hope that overcomes all trials, failures, sickness and grief by holding onto the promise of eternal life and a heavenly dwelling that is a blink away through Him. Believing He acts from love and knows best.

This only happens with deliberate devotion to God’s truth through study, prayer and fellowship.  Being saturated in His influence to overcome all others. Nothing good will come from a casual faith.  An acquaintance with Christ and His church results in an ineffectual anemic Christian defined by hypocrisy. The Biblical promises need to be a part of you, believed and applied. A conscious effort on your part, but what joy when you find that the hope and joy within has become a part of your thoughts, coping skills and reactions. A new lens to see the world in the light of Christ and His Word.

Nothing good will come from a casual faith. An acquaintance with Christ and His church results in an ineffectual anemic Christian defined by hypocrisy.

1st Peter 1: 3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Study the Word. His truth cannot come out if it does not dwell within. Pray to know Him and understand His Word because this is not something you can do alone.  The depth of His riches are deeper than a passing glance but the Holy Spirit is a willing guide.  Fellowship for edification and encouragement because the Lord uses us for each other. 

Recently, a longstanding misunderstanding of myself and my motives was immediately overturned by one sentence spoken to me.  She had no idea that her words brought revelation and repentance.  I thanked the Lord in prayer for her faithfulness to nurture her faith which in turn, strengthened mine.  I hope the Lord will use me in the same way for another.

 Titus 3: 4-7 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

How A Bacon Wrapped Cross Defiles Christianity

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This is not Christian

Two weeks ago, someone, or some people, in our city wrapped a four-foot cross with bacon and pounded it into the ground in front of the one and only Mosque in town. I hesitate to draw more attention to the hatred and foolishness of such an act, but because a cross has been brought into this, something has to be said.

It must be understood that what these people did is by no means Christian. It’s not the biblical church. It’s not the biblical Jesus. It is in fact anti-Christian. It is anti-gospel. It is anti-Jesus. It goes against everything the cross of Christ actually stands for. You will not find such an act anywhere in the Bible.

My plea to whoever may be reading this is for you to understand that Jesus in no way condones or encourages this deplorable action. If you are a Christian understand that such an act does nothing but drag the name of Jesus and his church through the mud. It is not an act that furthers the gospel but hinders it and thus it must be condemned.

This is Christian

Our church, Taproot Church, has been working together through the book of Acts–the New Testament historical record of the early church. One of the themes that come up repeatedly is the very humanness of every single person and the offer of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone to every human regardless of their race, ethnicity, or social status.

In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas are worshiped by the people of Lystra as Greek gods. Their response is, “People! Why are you doing these things? We are people also, just like you” (Acts 14:15; emphasis mine). What Paul is saying here is that the gospel (good news) of Jesus levels the playing field. All humans, regardless of what or whom they may rightly or falsely worship are just that–humans. Humans in need of the one true and living God.

In Acts 16, the author records the conversion of three different people. Each of them are from entirely different worlds. They couldn’t be more different. They are opposites in race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Yet the conclusion of the story is that they all–as human beings–were in need of the same Jesus.

Our common humanness

“From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26).

This verse is a reminder of our common humanity. That from one man every other man has come into existence. It’s also a reminder that we’re all a lot more alike than we tend to believe or realize.

Ken Wytsma talks about this in his book, The Myth Of Equality: “Beneath the skin we are all basically the same––and this is especially true at the genetic level. Genetically speaking, I (with my rather unmixed Dutch heritage) am more similar to a male Maori than I am to any female, including my own mother and daughters. Whatever genetic differences the Maori man and I might have throughout the rest of our twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, they are fewer than the number of gene differences between men (with one X – and one Y – chromosome) and women (who have two X- chromosomes), even when a man and woman are closely related…Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the genetics of humanity is how little diversity it contains in comparison to other populations of creatures, including other primates.”

In other words, scientifically speaking, I’m not that different than any other man on the face of this earth. And neither are you.

Track with me. This is important.

The Truth Of The Cross

You see, the actual good news of Christianity is that Jesus entered into this world in order to reconcile all types of people from every corner of this globe back to God. He finished the work that you and I could not. He did this by living a sinless life and dying a sinners death at the hands of people like…

You.

And me.

The sins of the conservative, the sins of the liberal. The sins of the Christian, the sins of the Muslim. Your sin and my sin put Jesus on the cross.

The cross is a symbol of suffering and shame. It’s a symbol of sacrifice and ought never to be associated with some sort of elite homogenous ideology. Americans (American Christians in particular) are not inherently better people than Muslims. This is what the true message of the cross tells us. It levels all humanity and says we’re all in need of the same thing. It declares that salvation is not for those who prove themselves most righteous before God. Rather, it declares that all are unrighteous, and the religious moralist who stands against planned parenthood is just as much a candidate for God’s saving grace (and needs it) as much as the Islamic man–even an avowed terrorist.

This is what the true message of the cross tells us. It levels all humanity and says we’re all in need of the same thing.

This cross is the way of the Christian life.

The cross declares God’s love for people like me, and also unlike me. There is no symbol that declares God’s desire for creating a diverse people like the cross. The Christian life should always reflect this desire.

It’s in light of all this that hateful actions like wrapping a cross in bacon and placing it in front of a Muslim Mosque must be condemned.

The truth of the Christian gospel is what enables us to see people the way God intended. In an increasingly diverse culture, may the cross remind us that we’re a lot more alike than we realize and at the end of the day our greatest need is the same–a crucified, but risen, Savior!

This post was originally published on Mike Littleton's personal blog.