Just a heads up – this is a bit longer of a post than normal
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15)
These words of Jesus Christ are haunting ones. Here we learn that divine forgiveness is not unconditional. For me, as I read them, a sneaking anxiety compels me to look over my life – to inquire whether there are any grudges I am holding onto. Or perhaps I have forgotten to forgive someone, having moved on emotionally, and that unforgiveness sits deep under the sediment of my psyche like a long buried and forgotten city. Am I competent and diligent enough to dig through to these hidden places, secret to myself though always present to the Divine Eye before whom the entire work of my life stands bare? What even is forgiveness? Do I know how to forgive? How do I forgive those who have not asked for it? Who have no desire to be forgiven? Those who show no signs of remorse or repentance for what they’ve done to me?
A while ago I wrote on the incoherence in the way many Christians understand the relationship of Father and Son in the crucifixion of the Christ. It was and is my opinion that we should retain the word propitiation to describe an important aspect of the event, but it must be thoroughly refined and defined through a creedal, and thus properly properly Trinitarian, lens.
I’m auditing a course this semester on spiritual practice, and one of the assignments was to visit a cemetery for thirty minutes. While there we were to spend some time imagining and reflecting on our own corpse.
It was quite a few years ago now. A friend was describing to me an interview she had been listening to. It was about Pablo Picasso. As it turns out, he wasn’t a very good person by even a modest standard. His granddaughter wrote this about him: “He drove everyone who got near him to despair and engulfed them. No one in my family ever managed to escape from the stranglehold of this genius.”
And yet, he was a very talented artist. This raises the question – should an artist’s personal integrity have any bearing on his or her art and how we evaluate it?
Every year on December 25th Christians around the world celebrate the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. But what is the significance of it? What does it mean when Christian say that God incarnated as a human being?
In normal, day-to-day English, you would probably almost never come across the word “incarnation.” If you did it would be more or less synonymous with the words “embodiment” or “version,” as in “My cousin Julie is so sweet she’s basically the incarnation of kindness,” or “This is the third incarnation of the novel I’m working on.”
“Life” is a strange word if you start to pick it apart.
On the one hand you use it to talk about a quality that belongs to things that are neither dead nor inorganic. This is the biological sense of the word. Things that have the incredible internal ability to grow, metabolize, reproduce themselves, and adapt to their environment have life and are alive.
This post is part of a series. Click the link for Parts 1 & 2.
Last time I introduced you to Herbert’s poem “Love (III),” and invited you into it—to meet the loving Jesus Christ who Herbert would like to introduce you to.
Here I want to draw a few principles from it about God and God’s love. These four principles don’t exhaust the treasure to be found in the poem, but they do help distill its essence.
Hopefully, in doing so, you can carry these principles into your entire life—certainly your worship and prayer life, but not only there! God wants your entire life, from waking to sleeping, to be permeated by his love.
This post is part of a series. To see Part 1, click here.
“Love (III)” is one of my favorite poems because it speaks to the heart of the matter: what does it look like to be loved by God? Composed by George Herbert in the 17th century, it is his most celebrated poem. It also concludes the main section of The Temple, the collection of Herbert’s English poems.
Here is the poem in full (it belongs to the public domain), with the spelling modernized:
This blog post started as a reflection on a poem, but it started to get pretty long.I realized I didn’t want to test everyone’s attention span, so I decided to split it up into a series that will attempt to unfold what love means for those who follow Christ.
Christians talk a lot about love. They claim that God loves them.
One early writer says that God has given Christians a new life because God’s love for them was so strong. Elsewhere, he writes that God’s love is so powerful and large that nothing can overcome or overpower it. Nothing is bigger or stronger than it (Eph 2:4-5; Rom 8:38-39).
I just finished reading Money and Power by Jacques Ellul, the late French sociologist and Christian theologian. Although you can see Ellul’s sociological prowess in the background of his work, I appreciate that throughout the work he thinks primarily from Scripture, with copious quotation of and reflection on biblical texts.
I find Ellul to have a very refreshing and challenging perspective on money. Even though I didn’t always find myself in agreement with his conclusions and argumentation, I consider many of his opinions at least loosely in line with Scripture as a whole, the early church as seen in the New Testament, and the Church Fathers and Mothers.
In the first chapter, Ellul discusses the contemporary monetary and economic paradigms and considers how to approach them from a Christian perspective.
Ellul (writing in the 1950s) sees all the economic systems, the -isms, as problematic. The main issue is that they abstract the money problem. For him, the problem is a matter of the human heart in relation to money. When we abstract money into a global economic system, we lost sight of personal relationship and responsibility.