Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Looking Back

It strikes me that we all too easily forget. For many of us looking back is too painful and so we don't bother for others of us we are just too busy to find the time. However, looking back is essential. Christianity is built upon having faith in Jesus and if we are to have faith in him we need to look back to his actions and allow those things to give us confidence that he is worth us putting our faith in!

In the Old Testament we have many examples of people struggling to keep on trusting in God but finding the strength needed to do so by looking back. The book of Habakkuk provides a great example of this.
Habakkuk is stuck in a world which is full of injustice, evil and violence and he finds himself crying out to God asking him how he can allow such evil to go on? Habakkuk lives through a time of incredible evil in his own land followed by a brutal invasion and occupation by the Babylonians. He finds himself struggling to believe that God can just sit back and allow such evil to happen.

It is only by looking back to God's incredible rescue of his people in the exodus that he is able to once again trust that God is truly loving and will bring about salvation. You can read this in Habakkuk 3.

In the same way if we are to keep trusting God in this unjust, evil and violent world we must look at his past record and allow that to show us why he is worth trusting. We don't look back to the exodus but rather we look back to Jesus. In an attempt to help me look back to Jesus and remind myself why he is worth me having faith in here is my attempt to do a New t
Testament version of Habakkuk 3. I am no poet but it helped me none the less.

'God came from Bethlehem and God’s son from Nazareth. Angels declared his splendour and shepherds and wise men were full of his praise. His perfection was there for all to see and his wisdom for all to hear. He came in humility and he brought in gentleness. Love went before him and forgiveness followed at his heels. He prayed and he fed thousands; he spoke and he stilled the sea. He reached out and he cleansed the lepers; He prayed and he raised the dead. Yet I see your anointed one in anguish; I see him crying out to God in pain. I see him despised, forsaken and rejected; I see him giving up his spirit to death. Was your wrath against your son, O LORD? Was your anger against your anointed one? You stripped your sheath from your bow calling for many arrows, darkness fell, the mountains again shook as your son faced your fury. Yet he suffered this for the salvation of your people. He crushed the prince of demons and turned Satan’s own schemes against him. He triumphed over all wickedness and now rejoices at his victory.

I hear and my body should tremble and my lips should fail at the thought. I will quietly wait for Jesus to bring salvation to all his people and to return again in power.'

Monday, 15 February 2010

Christianity for the Lazy

The other week I was at a secondary school in Hartlepool and was trying to explain what I see the difference between Christianity and all other religions. Now the group is made up of mainly year 11 lads and so often I don't really feel like much goes in. I was attempting to explain that what all religions seem to teach is that we need to do certain things in order to make God like us. So we have to go to certain places, do certain things, obey certain rules, participate in different ceremonies and if we do enough of the right things God will like us and go into heaven. Religions are built on the idea that if we do enough of the right things we can make ourselves good enough for God. I then went on to explain that the Bible teaches us something quite different. The Bible says that even our best efforts are like filthy rags to God and that actually the only way for us to be good enough for God is by him doing something for us rather than us doing something for him. I ended by saying that I don't consider myself to be religious because I don't believe I have to do certain things to make me good enough for God, rather I believe that God came to earth in the person of Jesus, died on a cross to pay the price for my sin so that anyone who believes in him will be accepted by God.

At the end of this one of the guys turned to me and said 'So basically you believe in Christianity for the lazy'. Now although I don't think this is completely accurate I was pretty happy about this because it means that at least he was listening and that he's grasped the central idea that Christianity is not about us trying harder but rather about a gift we don't deserve from God.
It is only by understanding and believing that we become inspired and empowered to live for God!