Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Sites to See

Jesus isn't the means to something wonderful - Adam Ford offers another comic on how we view Jesus. Obeying him isn't the way to get blessings. Jesus is the blessing.

"Don't Waste your Weakness" - This is another reflective post by John Piper - he always has some good, deep and rich thoughts to think through and I hadn't really thought of this before. It's certainly something to ponder.

10 Questions for a better bible study - This post is definitely helpful if you're reading the bible and really looking for how you can be learning more from it.

I'm better than you - Tim Challies offers the honest truth about his pride. And I think if we're honest with ourselves we can all relate to it.

Prayermate - I just downloaded this app, and it looks helpful! Basically the goal is to help you remember to pray. You can put in prayer points and it will cycle through them. Give it a go.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

I'm Moving!

Hey! I've decided to move my blog over to another site. If you're interested in seeing what I'm doing then here's the link:

God Bless!

...Because Christ did it first.

Image source
This post is closely related to the last one. In Romans 15 Paul continues to explain how as Christians we sometimes have different views on things. These views could both possibly be right, or else following either of them isn't wrong. For example one Christian might thing drinking alcohol is fine, whereas another Christian might decide not to do it because they aren't sure if it is sinful. 

The Christian who knows that it is not sinful to drink alcohol should be ready to give up that right and privilege for the sake of the other christian - to prevent them from being confused and sinning against their conscience by doing something they think is wrong.

But what is the example we should follow for this? As usual - Jesus is the perfect example.
Romans 15:3
"For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
In every aspect of our lives as Christians, Jesus is our ultimate example. We need to look at his life and live ours in response to it – he was sinless, and that should be our aim. In this specific context we see Jesus' selflessness. He didn't claim his right to reign over the universe. Even though he was God, he...
"did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
" (Philippians 2:6-8).
Jesus alone had the right to not give anything up for us. We used to (and in some ways still do) live in rebellion against him. We sin. But He willingly gave his life for us. he didn't cry out and yell about his rights. He gave them up willingly for us. The co-creator of the universe, the sovereign God over all things was willing to suffer and die for our sakes.

Jesus suffered far more than we do when we give up things for our fellow Christians.

We should obey God by copying Jesus' example. But at the same time we need to obey God out of love and thankfulness to him, not out of legalism or guilt. We need to obey him because we truly do want to obey him - and that's hard to do, and even harder to keep doing, since we slip into sin so easily.

But regardless of if you're obeying God out of really wanting to please him, or simply because you know it's how he wants you to live (even if right at this moment it's hard to obey him out of love for whatever reason), this is something we need to take on board.

Instead of crying out about our rights and what we deserve, we should look to those around us and see what they need. See what we can do to help them. See what we can give up to help them know Christ better. 

We need to copy Jesus' example.

I hope they were some helpful thoughts! Obeying God for the right motives is a complex (and yet very simple) thing, and I've found that it is extremely hard to do it right.

God Bless!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Looking after the 'weaker' brother

In Romans 14, Paul discusses the issue of when different people have different views about what is sinful. For one person not celebrating certain festivals might cause their consciences to give them trouble, whereas for another it won't matter to them at all. These issues are ones that are not explicitly dealt with in scripture, or ones where neither stance is wrong.

In Romans 15 Paul continues this theme, writing in verse 1:
"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves."
Patience, Love and Humility.
When we find people who have different views on certain things, It seems to me that patience, love and humility are the rules we need to follow.

Paul says the strong, (i.e. those who'd consciences let them do a certain thing) need to bear with the failings of the weak. The first thing that comes to mind is patience - they need to be patient with those people who can't do the same things because of conscience. They need to work with those people and help them not to stumble.

For example, if Jack thinks drinking alcohol is absolutely fine biblically, but Bill has a problem with it, then Jack needs to be patient with Bill. He shouldn't just tell him why he's wrong and expect Bill to change automatically. He should carefully discuss the issue with Bill when it's appropriate.

This takes love. We can be as patient as we want with someone, but if we don't love them we won't get very far. We need to care for those who are in need around us - and that includes those who have doubts about certain activities in their consciences. We need to love them even though they have these "failings" - not just throw them away because they disagree. We need to genuinely want to help them and to better them. That may even mean leaving the topic alone. Either way, it will probably mean that the stronger person should give up their privilege to prevent the weaker one from sinning or getting even more confused.

Continuing with our Jack and Bill scenario, Jack should love Bill enough to take the time to carefully and prayerfully discuss their different views on alcohol. Jack should also care enough for Bill that he'll be prepared to at least not drink while Bill is around.

And that takes Humility. We need to be ready to give up our privileges for the sake of those around us, and not to be proud about being "stronger" than someone else. The truth is, we're all weak in some areas. We need to be empathetic with those who have different opinions, being ready to give up what we enjoy out of our love for them. It also involves being ready to point to Christ instead of to our own convictions and ideas.

These three areas are ones that I continue to struggle with. I find it easy to get frustrated with people, especially when I try to reason with them, but they don't seem to be listening. I find it hard to love people who don't really listen, and above both of those, I find it hard to be truly humble - not seeking people's praise for my 'humility', but I really struggle to just point to Jesus in everything, and to his grace.

Where can you apply this to your life? Are there specific scenarios where you're doing something that might be causing a brother or sister in Christ to get confused, r even to sin by following your lead against their consciences?