Tag Archives: Gospel

For your reading pleasure – favorite links from around the web

Looking for some great reads?  Here are my suggestions:

Carolyn Custis James of The Whitby Forum wrote “Dropping F-Bombs,” her critique of the critique that the Church has been feminized.

Women cannot be who God created us to be as ezer-warriors if we do not cultivate strength, decisiveness, and a readiness for action. And frankly, men will be stunted if they are duped into thinking their manhood is compromised if they are loving, sensitive, and gentle, or if they cry.

“Feminized” and “feminization” may not be four-letter words. But these F-bombs need to be dropped from this discussion nonetheless!

President of CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality), Dr. Mimi Haddad wrote “Egalitarians and Complementarians: One Gosepl, Two Worldviews.”

Egalitarians and complementarians share much in common. We adore Jesus and serve him passionately. We are committed to justice as a biblical ideal. And, we’re both devoted to Scripture as God-inspired. Though we both long to see the world embrace the gospel, we promote two distinct worldviews. What is our difference? Male-only authority. Is it God’s design or is it a result of sin? We are divided by worldviews that we believe reflect the moral teachings of God and our purposes in this world. And, our differing views have enormous consequences….

….If male authority is part of God’s design, we would expect to see society flourish where patriarchy holds sway. Is this the case?

Not at all. In what constitutes the largest human holocaust in history, two hundred million girls are missing from the world, primarily in places where patriarchy is most rampant. The face of poverty, abuse, disease, malnutrition, illiteracy, and hunger is mostly female. Not surprisingly, the international think tank, The Millennium Project, which tackles humanity’s most challenging problems, recognizes gender equality and empowering women (in other words, dismantling patriarchy) as “essential for addressing the global challenges facing humanity.” Patriarchy does not advance God’s justice, but is an injustice that must be overcome.

Dismantling patriarchy will require a worldview that perceives male rule as a result of sin; it distorts the nature of men and women as equals and their intended purpose to use their gifts with shared authority. Justice and the gospel are furthered when superiority and dominance are challenged by human equality—a biblical ideal.

Bob Edwards wrote, “Confusing Sexism with ‘the Gospel.”  Edwards quotes Complementarian leaders Mark Driscoll, David Murrow, John Piper and Owen Strachan on their views on women.  Frankly, what they say about women is disturbing and offensive.

In summary, what are the messages regarding men and women that are being shared by these participants in “Together 4 the Gospel”?

Men are hierarchical,
-Men need sex; it is the cornerstone of their psyche,
-The future of the church depends on male leadership.

Women are not fit to be leaders,
-Women are more gullible than men,
-Women are obligated to perform oral sex on their husbands as an act of Christian service,
-Women are obligated to perform oral sex on non-believing husbands to win them to Christ,
-If wives do not provide enough sex, husbands will inevitably sin,
-A woman’s role is comparable to that of a “helpful animal,”
-Women are not able to share authority with men because of their “characteristic weaknesses,”
-To “be a woman” is to help men become leaders, as God allegedly intends.

Many words come to mind as I reflect on these messages. “Gospel” isn’t one of them.

Morgan Lee on the Christian Post wrote, “Could Christians Opposed to Immigration Reform be Helping Sex Traffickers?”

“A lot of us evangelicals care about human trafficking, but a lot of us don’t realize how much trafficking is tied to immigration,” Yang told The Christian Post on Tuesday. “I would say that a broken immigration system is a trafficker’s best friend, because traffickers abuse the fact that there’s immigrants here without legal status and they underpay them or they enslave them or they abuse them.”

Ben Corey wrote these two gems: “5 Ways We Could Probably Be Better Christians,” and “5 Ways You Can Spot a Jesus Follower.”  Please click the links to read his full posts.  In short:

To be a better Christian, he says:
1. We might want to dial down the arrogance.
2. We’d do well to start assuming the best in each other.
3. We could refrain from attempting to apply scripture to the lives of others we don’t actually know or have relationships with.
4. We could actively look for ways to reconcile “all things” to God.
5. We could spend more time getting to know the “other”.

Corey’s helpful key to spotting a Jesus Follower,
1. A Jesus follower likes to talk about him, but they do it in such a way that it causes you to want to know more, not less.
2. A Jesus follower embraces enemy love.
3. A Jesus follower is the one who is full of compassion for outsiders and the weak.
4. A Jesus follower is the one who is quickest to show others mercy.
5. A Jesus follower is the one who, when they describe what God is like, describe Jesus.

There are a couple new videos from Sarah Bessey (author of Jesus Feminist) on The Work of the People.  These are all sooooo good.  They’re all short excerpts from a longer interview, in which she talks about loss, God’s love, leaning into pain, etc.  Cannot recommend them enough.  Could be great resources for your church, Bible study group, etc. as well.

Christena Cleveland wrote this excellent piece: “Dismantling the white male industrial complex”

The truth is that the battle for justice won’t be won when white men finally join the fight. The battle was already won on the cross. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is at hand. It’s here. It’s happening. It’s already been set in motion.  We’re inevitably moving toward a world that reflects the prophetic reality of the resurrection. Justice will be done. All things will be made new. And Jesus graciously invites all of us to partner with him in that movement. We all can play a crucial role. But let’s never forget that Jesus is the secret weapon. Jesus has already determined the outcome of this battle and he will use whoever is willing to accomplish his plan. The Kingdom of God is at hand, whether white men participate or not…

Turn toward the oppressed –If we’re following Jesus’ Spirit, it will lead us to prioritize the needs and perspective of the oppressed over the needs and perspective of the privileged. The white male industrial complex keeps people’s eyes on white men, but any victory that Jesus leads will significantly involve the oppressed. As such, the Christian reconciler’s eyes should follow Jesus’ gaze to the oppressed – and all social justice efforts should be focused on the oppressed, should benefit the oppressed, and should empower the oppressed.

And Christena Cleveland also wrote this excellent piece: “Tone Deaf Leadership: 3 reasons Christian leaders should especially listen to the oppressed voices”

I’ll say it again: within the family of God, members of oppressed groups shouldn’t have to mount a social justice campaign in order to make their voices heard. In all of these cases, the privileged leaders eventually gave in, but not before initially resisting constructive criticism from oppressed voices and digging in their heels. When the PR storm increased, they reluctantly listened, and finally acquiesced. When the process of listening follows this pattern, the marginalized voices may “win” particular battles, but they remain dishonored and relegated to the foot of the table of the family of God.

Her 3 reasons:
1. You’re leading in an unequal world and Church, and you have a responsibility to fight against inequality.
2. Jesus prioritized feedback from marginalized voices over privileged voices.
3. You desperately need the perspective of the oppressed.


That should keep you busy for awhile.  Until next time, peace!

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The Theology of Empowering Women: Part 1

A friend passed along this awesome sermon from Kris Vallotton, founder and president of Moral Revolution, an organization dedicated to global cultural reformation, and Advance Redding, which is committed to the social/economic transformation of Redding, California.  He is also the author of ten books, including this gem:

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In the introduction to his sermon, Kris tells us his publisher asked him to double his book, which required 400 extra hours of research.  You can click the picture above to purchase his book on Amazon.

Bethel provides free previews for  a short amount of time, so you may not be able to listen for free.  I highly recommend paying to download the sermon in that case, but tried to transcribe as much as I could as I was listening.  No time to pause or go back, so it’s far from a perfect transcription, but take a look.  Good stuff!!!

http://www.bethel.tv/watch/2059/the-theology-of-empowering-women-part-1-sunday-am/2014/07/06

Kris explains that he will be addressing the six passages in the New Testament that seem to restrict women.  After his introductory comments, he begins here:

Between Matthew and Malachi, before Jesus walked the earth, there was a period of four hundred years in which the religion Judaism developed.  Judaism is not a word for the Old Testament religion, which we would call Mosaic Law.  There were no Pharisees and Saducees in the Old Testament.  N.T. scribes also had a new role than O.T. scribes.  What happended was there were hundreds of extra rules added to the Mosaic Law, which included 252 laws.  When Jesus walked the earth, there were 613 laws – 113 written against women.  Pharisees hated women and the most oppressed people group in Judaism were women.

There were Jews, Romans and Greeks when the disciples were writing the Gospels and Paul was writing the epistles.  In Judaism, women were second-class citizens with no rights, no respect and no voice.  They were the property of men, literally, and were afforded no education.  Like the women in Afghanistan, women were not permitted to speak to men and were required to veil their faces in public.  Under Judaism, women could not work outside the home and marriages were arranged, so they could not marry for love.  Polygamy was legal for men, not women, and men could discard/divorce their wives.  Women could not be witnesses and were relegated to the outer court of the synagogue.  They were not allowed to read the Torah.  The most famous 1st century rabbi, Eliezer, said he would rather burn the Torah than read it to women.

The Romans were less restrictive (it is interesting how the further you get from religion, the less restrictive it is).  Roman women could work outside the home and own property.  The Greeks, though, adored women.  They believed women were more powerful than men and made gods of them.  The whole thought behind this was that the sex drive of men was stronger – women had something men wanted and had control over that, so they were more powerful.

Paul the Apostle was formerly a Pharisee, a self-described “Pharisee of Pharisees” – a former oppressor of women.  Paul wrote to nine geographic locations and restricted women in three of them – Corinth, Ephesus, and the island of Creed – all Greek cities!  Not only were they Greek, they happened to have goddesses instead of gods as the chief leader of their city.  Goddesses had more authority than gods.

Also, it is important to note that no church would have had all the letters.  There was no New Testament at this time, 30-70 years after Christ.  Paul wrote specific letters to specific churches, and told the reader who to share the letter with.  For instance, Colossians 4:16 “When this letter is read among you, share this with the church in Laodicea, and read the letter that I sent to them as well.”  In Philippians, he says, “I’m writing this letter to the saints of Philippi, and also the elders and deacons,” i.e. “I’m talking to you!”

You cannot relate to the book of Corinthians in the same way the Corinthians would have.  It was written to a certain people to address certain issues.  You cannot relate to the N.T. epistles, written to a smaller community, in the same was as the O.T. books, which were written to a whole people group.

What happens when you superimpose God’s situational counsel over universal circumstances, is  you will not come to a redemptive solution. 

The epistles tell us how God thinks, but you would only apply the counsel if you were in the exact same context.  People say, “I believe the Bible!”  But I say, “You filter the Bible through a certain context.  If you sent your son, who is struggling with pornography, to a pastor to receive counsel, and he came back with one eye gouged out and one hand cut off, you’d call the police.  Because you understand that there was a context to Jesus’ words, and you automatically apply the context whethere you think you are doing that or not!”

In the O.T., the curse over women was that they would have pain in child birth, and the husband would rule over his wife.  In Hebrew, the word for woman and wife is different, and man and husband.  We know for certain the curse is that husbands will rule over wives, not men over women.  in the N.T., there is no difference in the Greek language, so it is more complicated.  But in the O.T., we had queens, judges and prophetesses that were women, and we celebrated them.  Does it make sense that after Jesus broke the curse on the cross, we cannot have a woman elder in a church of 50 people, but we could have a queen of a nation then!  When do women get free???

We’re going to read some of the hard passages that Paul wrote, starting with 1 Corinthians chapter 7.  This was a Greek city with a goddess with temple prostitutes.  Temple prostitutes coming out of Greek mythology were priestesses.  If this woman gave herself to you, it was not a sex act as much as it was an act of anointing, and it wasn’t shameful or dirty, it was the highest act of Greek mythology.  These women were the most important women in the city.

In 1 Corinthians 7:1, “Now concerning the things you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.”  Paul is answering questions the Corinthians are asking.  They came out of Greek mythology, so they are reacting.  Ok, we elevated women, so now we should oppress them.  Is it ok to touch women?  They are reacting tot he religion they came out of.  But here is the challenge:  Paul will repeat the question and then tell you his answer.  But by the time he gets to the 8th chapter, he stops repeating the question.

7:1, “….but because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each wife her own husband.  The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does.”  If you knew where Paul was coming from, you’d think he’d put a period here, but he doesn’t.  “And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”  The woman went from being a possession to the ability to own her husband, and a Pharisee just wrote that!

Verse 10,” to the married I give instructions that a wife should not leave her husband, but if she does leave, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.”  There is no such thing as women divorcing a man in Judaism.  Paul has left that behind.  From our perspective this is restrictive, from their perspective, incredibly releasing.  “A woman who has an unbelieving husband, if he consents to live with her, she should not send her husband away.”  She’s a powerful woman now!  “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife.  And the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her husband.  For otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy….How do you know, oh wife, whether or not you will save your husband?”   This guy just said, wives, you might be saving your husbands.  And if you stay with him, you are sanctifying him and making your whole family holy, wives.

Some people say the letter to Corinthians was written just to men because in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul writes “…Now I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you should prophesy.”  All.  It’s not “all you men,” it’s “all you all,” and he doesn’t make an exception here.  You can all prophesy.

In 14:26, “when you assemble together, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation,…for you can all prophesy one by one”….and that’s “all you all,” because Paul has been writing to wives and husbands.  This book is for everyone in the church.

And now we come to 1 Corinthians 14:34-ff:

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

There’s two schools of thought.  One thinks this is contextual, that men sat on one side of the room and women on the other, and women would shout questions across the isle to their husbands, causing chaos and disorder.  It is true that men and women did not sit on the same side of the room.  But we’re not talking to the Hebrews who would have understood O.T. law.  If we were talking to the Jews, it would have made sense that the men would have known more because they had been taught the Torah. But we’re talking about Greeks.  The men knew  as little as the women.

The other way to read this is as a question, as some theologians believe it is.  After that verse, there’s an explosive of disassociation.  There is no perfect translation, but it means, “What?  No Way!  Nonsense!  It can’t be!”  And it’s after verse 35.

God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of every man, and man is the head of every woman.  Here’s the problem, woman and wife are the same in Greek and man and husband are the same.  So you can end up with a more restrictive Gospel than the curse.  There are 43 translations of the N.T., 16 translate that woman/man.  All the others translate it husband/wife.

Then it goes on to say a woman needs to have her head covered when she’s praying.  Here’s Paul’s point in 1 Cor 11, as long as a woman is in order, she can pray and prophesy.

Let’s walk the Corinthian Road:

1 Cor 7: A man does not own his body, his wife does.

1 Cor 11: a woman needs to be in right alignment with her husband, but when she is, she can pray and prophesy

1 Cor 12/13:  you can all pray/prophesy/have a ministry

1 Cor 14: women cannot speak, just as the law says.

You can read the entire law and there is not one place in the O.T. where it says a woman cannot speak.  That cannot be written by Paul, an expert in the law.  And Paul has already said women have equal gifts and can minister.  It is opposite of what he has been saying for 14 chapters.  It also doesn’t make sense that women would have been shouting questions to men who would have replied, “I don’t know.”  And then we have the imperitve right after that question that says, That’s nonsense!  And then, did the word of God only come to you???  That makes sense, and that’s a good word.

And we have one minute and two more verses we haven’t talked about.  Jesus loves you, and if you’re a woman, you’re free.  You know when Paul says in 1 Tim 2 that women will be saved through child birth, remember that Timothy is the senior leader in Ephesus, where the goddess is Diana, the goddess of fertility, who was famous for making sure women didn’t die while giving birth.  So Paul is telling Timothy, she doesn’t need the goddess to protect her because she has a relationship with God.  They were having trouble getting women to convert to Christianity because they were all afraid of dying in childbirth.  In fact, women would travel to Ephesus to give birth.  That’s just a little taste of Timothy, and there’s a bunch more you might like.

If you’re standing near a woman, lay a hand on her shoulder and let’s pray:  Lord, we release right now, we break the power of the curse over our women that reduced them, that said you can’t live you dreams, you have to live a man’s dreams.  We break that.  We pray that women will be more powerful in the church than out of the church.  And we pray you will break the Spock-like Vulcan spirit that has overcome the church because w have no women bringing life and emotion and drama – good drama!  We release them right now to be leaders and teachers and prophetesses and judges and queens.  We release them now to fly, fly, fly!


I want to make sure you see this great comment from Susanna:

On the podcast part of Kris’s website you can download any of his sermons for free: http://kvministries.com/podcast/feed (the last one at this point is the one you’re talking about here, with ‘Part 1′ added to the title). Also wondrous is Danny Silk’s talk and book on the subject, The Invisible Ceiling. You can find a review of and link to it here: http://somebody-elses-story.blogspot.ca/search?q=The+Invisible+Ceiling


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God’s Unreasonable Generosity

I delivered my first-ever sermon last year, and thought I’d share the text here.  The experience of preparing and delivering a sermon was equal parts nerve-wracking and exhilarating.  I felt so blessed by the entire process.  Because I had zero experience and education in sermon preparation, I sought out lots of help and am indebted to the pastors and mentors who read my sermon and gave me notes.  It could only be ten minutes long, so it’s not a difficult read.  Without further ado, here is my sermon on Matthew 19:27-20:16.


There’s a question I’ve heard several times lately that got me thinking.  I watched a YouTube video of a popular evangelist, who was being criticized for her personal jet and large mansion, and she was defending her lavish lifestyle.  She said, “Don’t I deserve a little luxury when I work so hard?”  A family member going through a bitter divorce recently said to me, “I was always a good wife.  Don’t I deserve to be treated better than this?”  And a man dying of cancer asked Logan, “What in the world did I ever do to deserve this?”

When I was thinking about this question, I realized I’ve asked myself the same thing, a lot!  When we moved to my hometown in Maine, I expected my church family to recognize the value of my seminary education.  I was hurt when I wasn’t nominated for the Christian Education board, even though I had a Masters in Educational Ministries.  I felt I deserved recognition for my hard work.

Similarly, I’ve done a lot of waitressing over the years, and I always do my best to give good service.  I have an expectation of what my tip will be, according to the tab, and depending on the tip, I’m either satisfied, pleased, or sometimes, disappointed.

Also, I get a lot of satisfaction from studies that detail the monetary value of all of the jobs that a Stay-at-Home parent does.  If I was being paid for my long days, sleepless nights, laundry service, tutoring, meal preparation, house cleaning, and life coaching, I’d be making a six figure income!

So, there’s three examples and I could give many more of ways that I’ve measured my life and decided what I deserved, and have been disappointed when my expectations and my reality didn’t match up.  And I’m sure some of you think like this too.  Maybe you’ve Googled the average pay for your line of work, to see if you’re receiving a fair salary.  Or you’ve said to yourself, “I deserve better than this”, when your circumstances were difficult.  We all have an expectation of what sort of reward or recognition or life circumstance is fair, and it can be really difficult to understand when our expectations and our reality are not matching up.  Really, we’re wondering if it’s worth the effort.

Well, the good news is, we are not the first people to struggle with this.  In fact, Jesus’ closest friends, his chosen twelve in his inner circle, were beginning to look around at their circumstances, and they began to worry, is this going to come out in our favor?  Here they had all left their jobs and families, to live in poverty as wandering apprentices of Jesus.  So they asked him, “What will our reward be?”  Let’s turn to Matthew, starting in chapter 19:27, to hear how Jesus replied.

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

 

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So, the disciples were asking Jesus what sort of reward they would receive for their hard work and sacrifices, because they wanted to know if Jesus’ payment would line up with their expectations of what they deserved. Jesus’ answer to them is – The first will be last, and the last will be first.  Then Jesus uses the Parable of Equal Wages to illustrate the meaning of this principle, and he repeated the principle one last time for clarification.  But I think the meaning of this principle and this parable was hidden from the disciples for some time.  Let me unpack the parable a little bit and tell you when it was that the disciples really got it.

The setting was a society where unemployment meant starvation.  A day-laborer would have been someone without their own land to work.  So the day-laborers were dependent upon local landowners for employment just to feed their families with their days’ wage.  The men who would have been idle, or rather, had not been hired by any other land owner, would have been the weak, infirm, disabled, elderly, and other targets of discrimination, like criminals or anyone with a bad reputation.  At the end of the parable, the full-day workers didn’t complain that they had been cheated, but that the one-hour workers had been made equal to them.

A just God, then, is inclined to show special generosity to the poor and outcast.  No-one was underpaid; just some were treated with ‘unreasonable’ generosity.  And by that extravagant act of compassion, the landowner demonstrated something about the one-hour workers’ value and worth.  And this act of kindness denied the full-day workers their claim to superiority.  It was only natural for those who had worked all day in the heat of the sun to feel resentment.  If you’re honest, you’ll admit that you’re sympathetic to their complaint, because that’s our natural, human perspective.  But that sympathy reveals how loveless, merciless and ‘under law’ we really are.  Similar to the day-laborer’s poverty, we are spiritually destitute, in need of God’s ‘unreasonable’ generosity!

The hard truth is, no one deserves eternal life.  Think about it this way.  When you drive to work or to the grocery store, if you follow the rules of the road carefully, you don’t get a special reward when you reach your destination.  You have merely fulfilled your obligation to the law of the land.  Are we not likewise obligated to live in perfect obedience to our Creator?  We see so clearly all the things we do for God, or that we’ve lived a ‘good life,’ and we feel we deserve something for all of the times we haven’t just lived for ourselves.  But God isn’t looking at what we’ve done, he’s looking at our hearts.  His primary concern is that we are loving Him and loving others more than ourselves.  I’m a good person, I’m a good wife and mother, a good Christian.  But if I’m being perfectly honest with you, my life has been mostly lived for me and a little bit for God and others.  And honestly, my efforts and sacrifices can lead to a puffed up, superiority complex.  There’s no room for me to be proud.  I need to see myself for what I really am – a one-hour worker, not an all-day laborer.

There’s only been one person in all of history that has lived his entire life perfectly, always deferring to the will of his Father and to the needs of others.  He never achieved any status or riches in his lifetime, but was willing to live in poverty and to be ridiculed and shamed, to die between two thieves, pouring himself completely out as a gift of salvation for us!  The twelve disciples who had been asking what kind of reward they would receive for following him, hid in shame while he was being crucified.  Only when Jesus rose from the dead, and they realized what he had done for them, did his disciples stop worrying about fairness and receiving special honor.  They realized they had received unreasonable generosity!

You see, Jesus lived the life we should live and died the death we should have died – but then he doesn’t say to his Father, why are you giving those guys eternal life?  Jesus doesn’t begrudge his Father’s generosity towards us – he loves us so much, he shares his inheritance in heaven with us as brothers and sisters.  We are deeply valued and deeply loved, and not for our meager hour of work.  God sees our spiritual poverty and looks at us with compassion, and then blesses us with ‘unreasonable’ generosity!

That is God’s pay scale.  God’s grace is not limited by our ideas of fairness; his gifts are far beyond what anyone deserves.  In his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace”, Philip Yancey writes, “We risk missing the story’s point: that God dispenses gifts, not wages. None of us gets paid according to merit, for none of us comes close to satisfying God’s requirements for a perfect life. If paid on the basis of fairness, we would all end up in hell”.

I love how Pastor Timothy Keller puts it, “The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” So let us not get puffed up with feelings of superiority or entitlement, but always remember that we have received unreasonable generosity. Let us give thanks to God for not paying us what we deserve, but far, far better pay than we can even imagine.


 

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