Saturday, August 26, 2006

'Be holy... Be perfect...' impossible expectation or Gospel promise.

I'm sure I'm not the only Lutheran who has been taught that as we witness to unbelievers we should use Bible verses such as 'Be holy as I the Lord Your God am holy' and 'Be perfect, as Your Father in Heaven is Perfect' as 'law' designed to intimidate people into humility and repentance. (Then we can tell them the Gospel - "so they don't have to work at being holy" ?!).

Yet to take such verses out of context and teach that such statements are made by God just to cripple human spiritual ambition with an impossible standard is to fail to see the real meaning in those words, not to mention missing any real Gospel glory in them.

In His redeeming grace and mercy, God has provided for us to be both holy and perfect and, indeed, such holiness is already the gift of God to those in whom His Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple, surely.

Furthermore, those who teach that such statements are intended to assert the unattainable heights of divine perfection are reducing God to the level of a bully who towers over a small child and flaunts his superior height.

Lets stop using these statements as proof-texts for law, and start showing people the heights of undeserved privilege that God is offering to share with us with the words 'Be holy, as I the Lord your God am Holy'.

They describe the exaltation of those in whom God's Holy Spirit dwells as in a Temple. 'Be perfect, as Your Father in Heaven is Perfect' are words of promise to those who, through faith in Christ, have a righteousness imputed to them that exceeds that of the scribes and pharisees and a standing with God that is variously described as sonship and royal priesthood - a holy nation. *

*See Exodus 19.6, Leviticus 20.26, 1 Corinthians 6.19, 1 Peter 1.14-16 & 2.9,

Thursday, August 24, 2006

“What kind of god am I?”

Blame it on "post-modernism" or "relativism", but being your own god is more popular than ever.

My question is, "why are people who insist on making it up as they go along so blind to the absurdity?"

If you could be both the examiner as well as the student, you would have a sure way to pass every test: ‘make up your own answers’. You get to pass every exam! But what kind of an academic exercise would that be?

If you are a musician in an orchestra, but you decide that ‘the right notes are the note I say are right’ you get to play any notes you want! But what kind of harmony would you produce?

If you are a mathematician, but you decide that ‘the right answer is the number I choose’, your equations are never wrong! But would the sums add up?

Despite the absurdity of it – there is a popular school of thought that says, ‘there are no right answers, but the answers I cook up’. Only what is ‘true for me’ is ‘true’. The ultimate judge of ‘right and wrong’ is me. You get to take the place of God! But what kind of god would you be?

Have you fallen into this absurd trap? It is possible to find out. Just ask yourself, “Do I ask ‘what is right’ – or do I ask ‘how am I going to define “right” in this situation’?”

If you are an ‘ethical person’ – a ‘moral person’ – in the classic sense, you would look for the answer in authoritative sources as well as your own conscience.

If you have fallen into the popular trap, adrift, with no anchorage, no absolutes and effectively no God but oneself and no authoritative sources but human opinions and your own conscience, you personalize or privatize ultimate questions and conclude that ‘only what is right to me is right’.

Pontius Pilate’s infamous question was ‘what is truth?’. Have you ended up with Pilate as your role model? Do we ask ‘what is “right”?’ and assume that question has no ultimate answer?