Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Agreements and Worship

The other day, I heard a sermon from Francis Chan (a pastor in Simi Valley, California) that shook me. I want to share my version of one of his main points here:

What do you do when you come to a passage in the Bible that you disagree with? Personally, I try to flex my exegetical muscles, using all the "skills" and "tools" I learned and acquired in seminary to explain the passage in a way I can agree with. But the reality is this: there are passages I come across that, frankly, I just disagree with. And if you've spent any significant time reading the Bible (if you're honest), you find yourself disagreeing, too.

So, what do you do? Do you explain it away? Do you look for other passages that address the same topic in a way you prefer? Take 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, for example. It tells us not to associate in any way with people who call themselves Christians but who's lifestyles identify them as sexually immoral, greedy, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards, or swindlers. We're not even supposed to share a meal with those people. That's hard for me... it goes against the graciousness and welcoming heart I think we're supposed to have as a church.

Again, what do we do? Do you assume YOU are right and THE BIBLE is wrong? Do you assume our contemporary culture has it more figured out than the inspired word of God? I think many of us--most of us--do this unconsciously. But every time we do, every time we value thinking for ourselves (and assuming we are right) over submission to the word, we are saying this to God: I really believe, in my heart of hearts, that I know better than you.

Francis Chan's big point, after discussing all this, is that we really ought to assume--when we come to a place of disagreement--that God knows best. Can you do that? Can you assume, when you disagree with God and his inspired revelation to us (the Bible), that YOU are wrong and THE BIBLE is right?

If we really did that, life would look a lot different. It would be harder. It would be better.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Something To Live In

In Exodus 3, God comes to Moses in a burning bush--a bush that is on fire, but isn't being burned up--and calls Moses to go back to Egypt. There's something more significant than the fact that Mo was supposed to go back: God reveals himself. Mo asks him, "what do I tell them, when they ask me 'who sent you?'" God answers, "tell them I AM sent you."

God calls himself I AM. The Hebrew for this is YHWH ("Yahweh"). This is the most holy name in the Old Testament--faithful Jews say the Hebrew word for "Lord" when they see this word, because they don't want to risk defaming it by speaking it. It is that holy, still. Don't throw that name around. But it means, basically, "I AM."

That is still God's name, today. God IS. The most basic temptation in all the world, one that existed when Adam and Eve were tempted to eat the fruit, is the temptation to think or live as though God ISN'T. If God IS, how will that impact how you live today?

Live in it. God is. Not only IS he, but he speaks. He reveals himself to us. Stop for a moment and hear his voice, speaking quietly to you: I AM. I AM. I AM.