Have you ever walked past a bakery with an empty stomach and yet been forced, after taking in all the treats with your eyes and your nose, to walk on by? The initial sense of wonder quickly deteriorates into unfulfilled longing. It’s like a parable of life – eating is almost always better than window-shopping hungrily at the bakery. I experience the same thing while staring out into a beautiful landscape, listening to an inspiring piece of music or watching a small child exploring the world. Somehow just observing something wonderful doesn’t satisfy our hunger for joy – it’s only in the expression of that wonder that we can taste it. It is as if praise is not just joy coming out. It is joy happening, joy that is incomplete without communicating it to someone else. We seem to be wired this way. Perhaps that is why God encourages us to be thankful, to sing, to shout and give praise when we consider Him – and to participate in it together… because if we only stare on through the window silently, it may be wonderful but we’ll still walk away hungry.
I was reading Ephesians this morning. I usually struggle quite a bit with chapter one, as it is such a long combined thought. However, this morning I just sat and tried to understand it for me as a single person.
What blew me away was the simple reality that God was intentional about choosing me, even before history started. I mean WOW! Is it not incredible relational security to know that I was selected for the role, even before I had ever acted? This is a difficult thought and emotion to really explain, but it is something I want to allow to ferment inside me for a while.
Another crazy thought is that this selection of people is a sign of grace, and not just any grace, but glorious grace! I really struggled to understand that thought. One way I have started to understand it is that God sat with this soiled creation in his hands – and quite frankly – he didn’t have to choose anyone, or even continue with the story. It would just involve a lot of unnecessary pain and anger and disappointment for him to do so.
But he did choose people, and he chose to give this world a future.
Despite the total lack of merit.
I can see the grace in that.
I hope most of you are familiar with the analogy of the relational love-tank? Continue reading
Call me weird, but I have been thinking a lot about church visions recently, and the question of a biblical model for building Christian communities. There are so many aspects to cover: worship, teaching, leadership, evangelism, fellowship, ministries etc. etc. But putting all those complex issues aside for now, I’m still stuck on the basic question:
What has the gospel got to do with all of this?