The Bible Project: Visual Storytelling Meets The Bible
The Bible Project is a collection of visually engaging explorations or accounts, stories, and themes from the Bible. Not only is there a good wealth of well organized information here, but (as a bonus) the design quality and production values of the videos are better than I’m used to seeing.
Check it out. You might find something you can use in a future study or you might even learn something yourself.
Brian Zahnd: Betrayed By a Kiss
What was Judas trying to do and why did he betray Jesus with a kiss? Was Judas trying to force Jesus’ hand — trying to push him out of his Sermon on the Mount ethics of enemy-love? Was Judas was trying to force Jesus to resort to violence and start the war for Jewish independence? I think so. The reason Judas greeted Jesus with the customary kiss (which was also a covert sign), is that Judas didn’t so much want to betray Jesus as he wanted manipulate Jesus. Judas wanted to manipulate Jesus into launching a violent revolution. Judas wanted to remain a part of the inner-circle of disciples following a now violent Jesus. Judas acted like he was still a faithful disciple, because Judas wanted to be a faithful disciple — but only on his own terms. Judas didn’t want to betray Jesus, he wanted to control Jesus. Judas wanted Jesus to be Messiah in a certain way: Violent.
So what does it mean to betray Jesus with a kiss? It means trying to manipulate Jesus to our way of thinking. It means trying to control Jesus for our own agenda. When we try to get Jesus to step outside of his own ethics of enemy-love in order to fight our battles, wage our wars, and kill our enemies, we have betrayed Jesus. Of course we do it while claiming to love Jesus as our Lord and Savior. In other words, we betray Jesus…with a kiss.
I meant to link to this weeks ago. While I confess that brother Zahnd makes a couple of educated suppositions in this article, I think he nails what made it so hard for so many first century Jews to accept Jesus as Savior. They were looking for something else. Too often, we also try to cast God in our own image while claiming piety and devotion. We cannot let our own interests, opinions, or fears make us try to mold Jesus into something other than what He is. When we do so, we betray Him.
Timothy Archer: 7 Thoughts That Help Me Extend Grace
I need to remember…
- That I’m wrong. About something.
- That I’ve changed my views over the years.
- That I’ve exchanged some wrong views for right ones.
- That I’ve exchanged some right views for wrong ones.
- That nobody chooses to be wrong.
- That every fellow believer deserves the benefit of the doubt.
- That only God will determine in the end who is His and who is not.
A humbling meditation.
Desiring God: Internet Trolls in Church Clothes
How now shall we comment? Consider some examples of the kind of questions we can ask ourselves before posting.
- Am I speaking from a soul satisfied in God or from my discontent?
- Have I prayed for this person to whom I’m about to respond?
- Have I labored to understand what he is saying?
- Do I love this person (1 Peter 2:15–17) — even if they feel like an enemy (Matthew 5:43)?
- Am I merely trying to one-up him?
- How would I phrase this critique if I had to speak it to him face to face?
- Can I raise my critique in private instead of in public?
- How can I say this in a way that aims to build him up as well as the hearers?
- Is this particular critique needful at this point in time?
- Could I be wrong?
- Am I sowing discord or delight?
Again, loving speech does not mean never saying anything that could offend. It does not lead to a watered-down eclecticism or silence on important doctrinal and exegetical distinctions. Jesus confronted, offended, challenged, and rebuked his disciples. But he also went to the cross for them. And we are to love — online and off — like him.
Vox: I’m a Scholar of the “Prosperity Gospel.” It Took Cancer to Show Me I Was in Its Grip.
It is true that the prosperity gospel encourages people — especially its leaders — to revel in private jets and multimillion-dollar homes as evidence of God’s love. But among the less well-heeled believers, I sensed a different kind of yearning, one that wasn’t entirely materialistic. Believers wanted an escape: from poverty, failing health, and the feeling that their lives were leaky buckets.
Some people wanted Bentleys, but more wanted relief from the wounds of their past and the pain of their present. People wanted salvation from bleak medical diagnoses; they wanted to see God rescue their broken teenagers or their misfiring marriages. They wanted talismans to ward off the things that go bump in the night. They wanted an iota of power over the things that ripped their lives apart at the seams.
What they wanted was reassurance: that if they prayed, and believed, and lived righteously, they would be rewarded with some measure of comfort.
The prosperity gospel is a theodicy, an explanation for the problem of evil. It is an answer to the questions that take our lives apart: Why do some people get healed and some people don’t? Why do some people leap and land on their feet while others tumble all the way down? Why do some babies die in their cribs and some bitter souls live to see their great-grandchildren?
The prosperity gospel looks at the world as it is and promises a solution. It guarantees that faith will always make a way. If you believe, and you leap, you will land on your feet. If you believe, you will be healed.
I would love to report that what I found in the prosperity gospel was something so foreign and terrible to me that I was warned away. After all, the moral and logical flaws in this theology are all too evident; it explains away misfortune as something that can and ought to be held at bay through faith and prayer. But what I discovered was both familiar and painfully sweet.
Sojourners: 8 Sayings Christians Use to Let Ourselves Off the Hook
We’ve mastered Christian-ese catch phrases to get us off the hook from ever really having to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Before I go on, please allow me to climb off my high horse and admit that I know all of these phrases by heart because I have disingenuously used them all myself. They’ve rolled off my tongue with ease and a sense of identity. But the more I listen to those who have suffered, the more I realize how much I’ve manipulated Scripture to stay comfortable.
These sayings are not bad or untrue at face value, and sometimes they are said with sincerity. But American Christians also use them as an escape hatch to turn our backs on suffering. We proclaim what we believe as rock-solid theology, while ignoring those who are at the heart and soul of Jesus’ ministry.
- “I’ll pray for you.”
- “I love everybody.”
- “Let’s keep the peace.”
- “God is sovereign.”
- “Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.'”
- “God works in mysterious ways.”
- “Mercy is not my gift.”
- “The Bible says we should submit to authority.”