Archives for posts with tag: kingdom of God

RAWtools: turning AK47s into farming tools

“My people will beat their swords into plows… and study war no more.” –Isaiah 2

Yesterday was a struggling day for me. Wrestling with God always leaves me limping. This photo appeared on my Twitter feed like a stream of water in a desert place. How exciting to see life cultivated out of death…

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“It is difficult to do justice in words to the complete loss of intellectual morale in the twentieth-century Church. One cannot characterize it without having recourse to language which will sound hysterical and melodramatic.

There is no longer a Christian mind. There is still, of course, a Christian ethic, a Christian practice, and a Christian spirituality… but as a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization. He accepts religion — its morality, its worship, its spiritual culture; but he rejects the religious view of life, the view which sees all issues within the context of the eternal…

-Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind

Oh, for a mind that relates all issues — social, political, and cultural — to the doctrine of God. What I wouldn’t give for that kind of thinking. What on earth is the eternal perspective, and how can I get at it? How does the life of God inform the life of… me? When the world is a-whack, and it generally is, what image of God focuses my eyesight?

These days the hot topic is Chick-Fil-A, tomorrow it will be something else. Another transient position of  “a Christian ethic, a Christian practice, and a Christian spirituality”. Where is the Christian mind in all of this boycotting and talk of first-amendment? Is the life of the Trinity revolving around the American Constitution and the freedom of speech and the support of one fleeting bill over another one?

I picture Jesus reminding me always to “Render to Caesar. Do it. But render to God as well. Don’t confuse the two.”

There are days when I cannot understand the “Christian” mud-flinging… the conservative obsession with controversy… the Church caught up with in the most recent popular headline… the way in which hot political topics are confused with the Gospel. If the world ran out of controversy, we would invent something to fight about: a means to channel our righteous indignation. Steven Colbert took my breath way in his recent programming:

“As a practicing Christian in this modern, fallen world, it can be hard to explain why I still go to church. That’s why I want to say thank you… for cementing in the minds of nonbelievers just what my religion stands for: Jesus, the only Son of God, gave His life to redeem mankind by suffering torture and death, then rose from the dead in forgiveness of our sins, ascending to heaven and is seated for eternity at the right hand of the Father in fulfillment of the scriptures. …You know. For chicken.”

God, who offers a perspective that I crave: When the world is crazy and distressing, help me to press into the eternal perspective. Help me to repeat the creeds before regurgitating political talking points. I ask, again and again and again, for the Father to show me how His life participates in this life… how to render to Caesar… how to demonstrate the stark opposition of the kingdom of God to the kingdom of this world. In the name of the One who said, “If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight. But…”  Amen.

We pray to You, the Father, the Son, the Eternal Spirit: the God of hospitality.

We pray languidly to You before our consumptions. We invite You to eat with us because You are easy to welcome at table. We pay no heed to the poor, the sick, the starving – Your inconvenient incarnations. You are a welcome guest, or so we say, but if You smelled like the streets we would leave You at the door. We “say grace” but in this feasting we are graceless.

Teach us to eat with eyes opened and hearts softened. Teach us to rejoice in our food, our drink because this day You have given, and tomorrow You may take away. Teach us Your radical hospitality and how to widen our circles. In order to welcome You here, we set aside ignorance, apathy, gluttony, and thoughtlessness.

We pray in the name of the One who was spurned from many tables, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

~Annie Bolger Quick, editor

Frank Viola: “God’s View of a Woman”

Consider this. When God decided to make His entrance upon this planet, He visited a woman. He chose a woman to bring forth the Eternal Son, the Messiah—the Anointed One for whom Israel had waited thousands of years. The life of God was first placed in the womb of a woman before it got to you and to me. And God was not ashamed.

Sisters in Christ, this is your Lord’s view of a woman. Take your high place.

But that’s not all. As Jesus ministered, He ripped down all social conventions that were pitted against women. On one occasion, He rose to the defense of a woman caught in adultery. He became her attorney and saved her life. And God was not ashamed.

Jesus was noted for palling around with sinners. He supped with prostitutes and tax collectors. We are told in John Chapter 4 that He met a woman, and He did something that shocked the disciples. He talked to her in public. And He was not ashamed…

But that’s not all. Jesus Christ had a custom of using women in His parables and making them heroes. He talked about the woman who searched and found her lost coin. He spoke of the woman who was unrelenting in the presence of the unjust judge who honored her for her persistence. He spoke of the widow who dropped all the money she had into the temple treasury and praised her for doing so. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Once Jesus was dining with a self-righteous Pharisee. And in walked a woman. But this was not just any woman. She was a woman of the streets—a prostitute. Upon seeing the Lord, she dropped down to her knees and did something unsettling.
In the presence of Pharisees, this woman unbound her hair and poured costly perfume upon the feet of our Lord. This unclean woman touched Jesus Christ in public. She wept, washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. This scandalous and improper act mortified the self-righteous Pharisees. At that moment, these religious leaders lost all respect for Jesus and doubted that He was a true prophet. But your Lord was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But that’s not all. Your Lord allowed an unclean woman to touch the hem of His garment, and He was not ashamed. In fact, He praised her for it. He also gave a Canaanite woman who was viewed as a dog in the eyes of Israel one of the highest compliments He ever gave anyone. He also healed her daughter, and He was not ashamed.

In the Lord’s last hours on this earth, He stayed in a small village called Bethany. It was there that He would spend His last days before He gave His life on Calvary. In Bethany, two women whom Jesus loved had their home: Mary and Martha. They were His friends, and they received Him. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

When Luke writes his Gospel, he refers to the twelve disciples with the shorthand phrase the Twelve. The Twelve lived with the Lord for three-and-a-half years. And they followed Him everywhere. But Jesus also had a group of female disciples. Luke also used a shorthand phrase to refer to them. He simply called them the Women (Luke 23:55; Acts 1:14). Interestingly, Luke used this phrase the same way that he used the Twelve.  They were the Lord’s disciples also—the female counterpart to the Twelve. The Women followed the Lord wherever He went, and they tended to His needs. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But there’s more. The greatest disciples of Jesus Christ were not the Twelve. They were the Women. The reason? Because they were more faithful. When Jesus Christ was taken to die, the Twelve fled. They checked out. They said, “See ya!” But the Women stayed with Him. They didn’t leave. They followed Him up to Calvary to do what they had been doing all along—comforting Him, taking care of Him, tending to His needs. And they watched Him undergo a bloody, gory crucifixion that lasted six long hours. To watch a man die a hideous and horrible death is something that goes against every fiber that lives inside of a woman. Yet they would not leave Him. They stayed the entire time. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Following His death, it was the Women who first visited His burial. Even after His death, they were still following Him. They were still taking care of Him. And when He rose again from the dead, the first faces He met—the first eyes that were laid upon Him—were the eyes of women. And it was to them that He gave the privilege of announcing His resurrection, even though their testimony wouldn’t hold up in court. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

On the day of Pentecost, the Women were present in the upper room, waiting for Him to return, along with the Twelve.
Unlike His male disciples, the Women never left Him. They followed Him to the end. Their passion for and dedication to Jesus outshined that of the men. And God was not ashamed.

Throughout the Lord’s life, it was the Women who tended to His physical needs. It was the Women who looked after Him. It was the Women who supported Him financially during His earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3). It was the Women who cared for Him up until the bitter end as well as the glorious climax. Not the men. The Women were simply indispensable to Him. And He was not ashamed.

But beyond all these wonderful things that the Lord did in showing us how beautiful women are in His eyes, He did something else. He chose you—a woman to depict that which He came to earth to die for—His very Bride. And He is not ashamed.

Sisters, rise to your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Brothers, honor your sisters in the Kingdom of God. For God honors them. When our Lord pulled Eve out of Adam, He didn’t take her out of his feet below him. Nor did He take her out from his head above him. He took her out of his side.

Sisters, you are fellow heirs in the Kingdom of God. You are fellow priests in the church of God. You are honored. You are cherished. You are valuable. You are needed.

You are His friends, His followers, His daughters, yea, His own kin.

So sisters, take your high place . . . this is God’s view of you.