Tag Archives: Christianity

No Lord but Jesus

9781893729568m(From Dave Black Online. Used by Permission. Dave Black is the author of The Jesus Paradigm.)

2:08 PM Hey there, internet warriors!

Just kidding.

Sort of.

You’ll notice a dearth of blog posts here at DBO about politics of late. That’s pretty intentional on my part. Oh, I peruse the same political websites you do and I watch the debates and I read the daily news. But honestly, so little of what you read nowadays is trustworthy. Take this headline I saw today: “US blocks UK Muslim family from boarding plane to Disneyland.” Okaaaay. Last time I checked, there is an airport in L.A. and an airport in Orange County and an airport in Ontario, but not one in Disneyland. As for the reason, it was never stated in the article, though one MP in Great Britain is trying to blame it on The Donald. Who knows what went down in the airport? Maybe one of the family members is not a U.K. citizen and didn’t have a visa to enter the U.S. (U.K. citizens don’t need a visa to fly to America.) Maybe one of them is on the no-fly list. That happens, folks. (Senator Ted Kennedy was once stopped for being on the no-fly list by mistake.) Maybe airport security knew something we don’t know. Who knows! This I do know. Every nation I’ve ever visited (and that’s a ton of nations) is a sovereign country and as such can allow or deny me entrance at the drop of a hat and without any explanation. And why blame it on Trump? You’d think that maybe president Obama made Trump acting president while on vacation in Hawaii. That’s just insane. At the same time, let’s say real discrimination was involved. In that case, I would hope that someone would get into trouble, big time. But folks, I can’t with integrity say who’s right and who’s wrong in this case and neither can you. For my two cents, I can’t see how politics and Christianity are compatible. The church is set apart precisely because it’s not a part of the world system. At the same time, I grant that immigration is indeed a question of justice. But whose view of justice are you talking about: the left’s or the right’s? The Christian “cultural revolution,” it seems, is backfiring. Let me ask you: During the Reformation, whose view of justice was at work when Christians of all stripes were literally killing their enemies, including their fellow Christians? I’d like you to consider something else too. As Christians we have an obligation to distinguish between what is a kingdom issue and what is not. The Anabaptists refused to recognize a state church and, as a result, were sent to their deaths by the thousands (without fighting back, mind you — except for a loony who thought he was ushering in the Last Days). Paul’s “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20) is not wishful thinking on his part or an outlandish platitude. The context here is the key. Paul is contrasting those who set their minds on earthly things (3:19) with those who focus their attention on their heavenly citizenship (3:20). As Christians, our executive authority is not on earth but in heaven. We are nothing but resident aliens here on earth, from which “we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (3:20). Now that will preach at Christmas! “Caesar Augustus is our savior,” boasted the Romans. Christians, however, have experienced a radical change in allegiance. Listen to Rush or Shawn and will you hear that message? Not on your life. You see, if your hope is based on an earthy agenda, you look to Caesar (government). But if your hope is based on your heavenly citizenship, you’ll look for the coming Savior from heaven. The essential difference between the risen Christ and all those who would “save” us is Christ’s unrivaled sovereignty, authority, and power. Christ, not Caesar, controls all things. Christ, not Caesar, displays the power of God. To Christ, and not to Caesar, are subjected all things. Therefore, Jesus Christ alone deserves acclamation as “Lord.” It’s just that simple.

Then what about justice? Notice how Jesus Himself protested against injustice when He was here on earth — not by advising Caesar (or Pilate) but by being willing to suffer unjustly at the hands of government. Please don’t misunderstand me. I most certainly do believe in human rights and political freedom (democracy). But I do so not because I’m a Christian but because I’m an American. So let Christians continue to debate the virtues of this or that candidate. Let’s celebrate and be grateful for the religious liberty we enjoy in the U.S. But did you know there are probably more born-again Christians in China than in any other country, including the U.S.? Most of them are meeting in illegal home churches. For the most part, they have no church buildings, no sanctuaries, no religious freedom. Are they missing out on something important? Of course not. Naturally, if you do have freedom and the right to build church buildings, then give thanks to God. Let’s just be careful about investing any of these blessings with Christian significance. Actually, God does not live in our buildings. It would so helpful if we could avoid using terminology that implies that He does. Christ has brought an end to religion. So let’s not go back to the old covenant. The New Testament’s emphasis is always on one thing: Let the followers of Jesus Christ imitate His selfless love to all people and at all times.

There’s my “political” reflection for the day.

Cheers,

Dave

Are Americans Persecuted

10:35 AM Jonathan Merritt’s latest post is called In the Middle East, Not America, Christians Are Actually Persecuted. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to boycott Target because their employees wish you “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Xmas.” (Yes, I used Xmas intentionally.)

Case in point: In Ethiopia, Tesfai’s 8-year old daughter was decapitated and her headless body was thrown down the village well, simply because her family was Christian. Yet Tesfai has never complained. He truly loves his enemies.

Jonathan puts it so well:

Let’s be clear: protecting religious freedom is a serious concern, and believers should speak up whenever they feel the free practice of any faith—not just their own—is threatened. But what is happening in America is not “persecution.” Using such a label is an insult to the faithful languishing in other parts of the world where persecution actually exists—places like the Middle East.

The true scandal of the North American church is that, while we are getting stuffed with the Gospel over and over again, most of the rest of the world is waiting to get a single bite. Folks, we need to ask ourselves seriously why God has blessed America so richly. The answer seems clear to me: So that we might share our rich material and spiritual resources with others. That’s a worthy goal to strive for, don’t you think?

(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian Archy, The Jesus ParadigmWhy Four Gospels? and  Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?. Used by permission.)

The Banner of the Cross above All Other Flags

Recently PBS published a story called Colorado Springs Evangelicals. The new head of Focus on the Family is interviewed in depth. His goal? To engage the culture without becoming “wrapped around the axle of politics.” He is so right about this! The bottom of the bottom line is simply this: politics and religion don’t mix. Look, you are I are called to follow Jesus and advance His kingdom, which is “not of this world.” It’s also important to remember that the earliest Christians loved and supported their communities. They did not look down on lost sinners. It’s a beautiful thing when you begin to hear people at Focus on the Family admit that it was a mistake to become cultural warriors. The truth is that our activism has been a loud gong that has drowned out quiet voices, so that the culture has lost interest in anything we have to say. The people who have changed the world have always been risk-takers who climbed down through torn up roofs while the rest of the world slammed doors. I was a stranger at first to this kind of thinking, but my reading of the Gospels completely changed all that. (See my The Jesus Paradigm.) I don’t believe that God needs an advocate in DC or a faith-based organization to promote His kingdom. So I urge us all to be careful who we pledge allegiance to. Let’s be careful to raise the banner of the cross high above all other flags. So watch (or read) this interview. It should make us all uncomfortable. But the more you read the Gospels, the more your comfortable life will be interrupted.

(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian Archy, The Jesus ParadigmWhy Four Gospels? and  Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?. Used by permission.)

How Can You Go On?

From Dave Black Online:

9:55 AM This post is for anyone who is going through a tough time. Last night I finished reading Sears’ book Gettysburg. Again, I was dumbfounded when I read about Pickett’s Charge. How could soldiers make such a charge? What can propel a man forward against such great odds?

Take the struggle you’re currently facing. “How can I go on? How can I make it? Just look at the odds!”

Continue reading How Can You Go On?

The Cult of the Speaker

6:30 AM Up for a stern warning this morning?  

Before I issue it, some background. I have nothing against public speaking. I am asked to speak all the time. I enjoy listening to other speakers (provided they are well-prepared and not just repeating the same old same old). I have been responsible for organizing two major conferences on campus that featured such speakers as Dan Wallace, Darrell Bock, Moises Silva, Grant Osborne, Keith Elliott, and Scot McKnight. I am speaking, in fact, at a conference today at SEBTS. So what is my warning?

Continue reading The Cult of the Speaker

Missional Task is the Basis of Christian Unity

8:42 AM Hello Internet friends,

Some of you who have been reading this site for a while may recall that I’ve been working on a new book called Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions? My desire is to reflect accurately what Scripture teaches in the area of associating with non-Christians and their world. I’m not especially concerned with our hallowed manmade traditions of doing missions. I feel like I’ve hit on some insights that provide a framework that allows me to combine the twin foci of unity and missions that we see throughout the New Testament. So if you’ll bear with me, I think I’ll introduce you to a few quotes from the forthcoming book. For starters, here’s something to chew on:

Jesus’ disciples enjoyed community simply because Jesus and not a set of dogmas was at the center of their life. They never tried to “build community.” They didn’t have to. Community was the result of being united in the Christian mission; community emerged naturally when they committed themselves to something bigger than themselves. And so it is in the church today. It is my personal observation that most Christians begin to enjoy genuine community only when they begin to serve the poor, evangelize the lost, and plant churches. The glue that unites them is the missional task of loving their neighbors. A shared sense of mission drives them to community. Their congregations are mission-shaped. Like Jesus, they literally go. For them the Bible, not tradition, is normative, and they hold themselves accountable to each other in love even while they work closely with the surrounding neighborhood, developing strong links between Christians and not-yet Christians.

I think it’s very clear that the New Testament affirms Christian mission as the basis for our unity in the Body of Christ. I feel compelled, out of fidelity to Jesus, to repudiate the notion that cooperation is impossible on a practical level. I’ll leave you with this teaser thought: Jesus prayed for our unity in John 17. Can Jesus pray a prayer and it not be answered?

Enjoy the Lord’s Day!

Dave

(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian ArchyThe Jesus Paradigm, Why Four Gospels?, and the forthcoming book Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions. Used by permission.)

Vocation to Ministry?

From Dave Black Online:

10:36 AM I have a question today, a question to which I do not know the answer. When will appeals for vocations to the ministry end? And when, in their place, will the church encourage all of its members to seek God’s will for the area of ministry in which they can most effectively be used by Him? I propose that we never again use the expression “call to the ministry” unless we are careful to apply it to each and every Christian. All this will neither be easy nor popular. Yet at some point it must be done. One of the main reasons for burn-out in the pastorate is that it is often carried out alone. The New Testament never envisaged such a predicament. Ministry needs to be shared. Jesus realized this: He sent out the apostles two by two. Paul realized this when he appointed elders (note the plural) in every church. And it needs to be modeled by today’s Christian leaders. It is not until church members are enthusiastic about their own God-given gifts that we will succeed in being the Body of Christ.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, and Why Four Gospels?.)

On Being a Godly Man

CarpenterArthur Sido asks, “What does a real man look like?” His answer:

What the Bible shows us is incredibly counter-cultural. A man is someone who is humble, meek, loving and yet a leader, strong, a provider for his family. Men who love their brothers and are not afraid to say it and who love their wives and are not embarrassed by it. The church is called to recognize as leaders men not based on who is strongest or the best educated or who makes the most money. In other words, we are not called to follow the example of the world in our leadership.

Read Being a Christian dude. Well done, Arthur.

I’ll just add this: Godly manhood always focuses on Christ. It takes the initiative in building friendships. It radiates the fruit of the Spirit. It has firm convictions but is never overly-critical or condescending. It has a joyful, warm, and friendly spirit. It is other-centered. It is willing to risk rejection and censorship even from the Body of Christ.

A godly man is a walking miracle.

(From Dave Black Online, used by permission.  Dave Black is the author of The Jesus Paradigm and Christian Archy from Energion Publications and a number of other books.)

Post-Church Christianity

From Dave Black Online:

A thought about Labor Day: One of the current social fads is what we might call “post-church Christianity.” People are dropping out of church, especially young people who may have been converted in non-traditional settings. I must confess that much of what we see in the Body of Christ is indeed very unattractive: anachronisms, inconsistencies, hypocrisies. But I cannot agree that the solution is dropping out. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we are obligated as believers to “stir one another up to love and good works.” How can refusing to meet with other Christians allow us to obey this command? Each Christian is a building block in the temple of the church. Each is necessary for the Body to grow. Each has a part to play. Sadly, the word “work” has become a four-letter word in many of our churches. There are too many shirkers and not enough workers. Even Jesus said the laborers are few.

If you are a dropout from church (for whatever reason, and you may have some VERY good reasons!), my simple advice to you is this: Get to work. Jesus said, “I will build My church,” and He had all of us in mind as His workers!