Thursday, December 11, 2008

1 Peter 4:12-19 - Judgment & God's Sovereignty

Several weeks back I wrote a lengthy response to a reader's question about Job, his suffering, and God's sovereignty. The basic premise was, "He's God, you're not." For many people, that is an unsatisfactory answer to the dilemma of evil, suffering, injustices and social inequality. For me, it's the most satisfying response there could be. Why the disparity?

At my office one afternoon, I sat and discussed communication rhetoric, approaches, and strategies with an intern, himself a communication major, and writer at our firm. In his studies at a secular university he was learning about the sharp distinctions between historic Christian rhetoric, born out of a worldview of absolute truth handed down by God, and that of the secular culture today where truth is relative and God's words hold no higher authority (nay, even less) than one's own thought. The application of his study in school was that to these two diverse audiences, two diverse forms of rhetoric have emerged: the apologetic and the exegetical.

The apologetic is of little value to the believer because he can (or should be able to) understand and process the words of God as truth. Instead, he benefits from the exegesis of scripture. On the contrary, the non-believer will find little value in exegesis because it's basis is not established yet in the heart and mind of the listener.

So, why this dissertation on communication to address the topic of sovereignty? I can accept from the non-believer that suffering, evil, injustice and the like present a logical hurdle toward faith in God. But I must rebuke, on the basis of God's word, that a believer professing faith in God the Father Almighty would cite such circumstances as problematic to their faith. I openly oppose such a view within the church in light of one simple and certain exegetical truth: God is God.

In exegetical style, New Testament authors refuted any questioning of God with authoritative fashion. "Do not be surprised," Peter says in verse 12. He goes on in verse 19 to declare that we "suffer according to the will of God." Elsewhere, Paul answers the question directly, "Is God unjust? Not at all" (Romans 9:14). Job is faced with the undeniable truth of his own futility and humanity as God rants, "Where were you..." (Job 38:4 et al).

For the seeker who is trying to grasp the riches of God's glory and struggles with the perceptions of the things around him, God shows Himself merciful and good through the compassion and love of Jesus Christ. But for anyone among His own household that would question the motives and desires of God, He charges:

"Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right
way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of
understanding?" (Isaiah 40:14)

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Money in Ministry

In many Christians' vocabularies, worship and ministry are interchangeable. But, there's a distinct difference... and yet, there's also a distinct connection. Money given in worship often finds its way into some form of ministry. Likewise, giving money out of a sincere desire to worship God with our resources goes hand-in-hand with giving money out of a sincere desire to minister.

Last week, we looked closely at Old Testament examples of worshipping Godórecognizing who He is in regard to who we are not. And, intermixed among those very passages we read about providing for the Levites with those very sacrifices, and enjoying the feasts with the aliens, fatherless, and widows.

One thing that is clear throughout scripture is that God has a heart for the poor and marginalized. Jesus ate with societies outcasts. In Isaiah 58, God rebuked Judah for observing fasts without considering what God truly wanted from their fasts: "Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter" (Isa. 58:6).

This Sunday, we will continue our pursuit of understanding God's perspective on money by looking at how He intends its use(s) in ministry. If you're eager to come prepared, re-read Deut. 14-16 and pay attention to His provision for the Levites, aliens, fatherless, and widows.

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