If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what grief is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but you’re actually part of the drama which has him as the central character.
Jesus doesn’t give an explanation for the pain and sorrow of the world. He comes where the pain is most acute and takes it upon himself. Jesus doesn’t explain why there is suffering, illness, and death in the world. He brings healing and hope. He doesn’t allow the problem of evil to be the subject of a seminar. He allows evil to do its worst to him. He exhausts it, drains its power, and emerges with new life.
Our culture is so fixated on dying and going to heaven when the whole Scripture is about heaven coming to earth.
Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion.
Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.
What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.
People often get upset when you teach them what is in the Bible rather than what they presume is in the Bible.
You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.
It’s not great faith you need; it is faith in a great God.
The cross is the surest, truest and deepest window on the very heart and character of the living and loving God.
Worship is love on its knees before the beloved; just as mission is love on its feet to serve the beloved
Tolerance is a cheap, low-grade parody of love. Tolerance is not a great virtue to aspire to. Love is much tougher and harder.
The church exists primarily for two closely correlated purposes: to worship God and to work for his kingdom in the world … The church also exists for a third purpose, which serves the other two: to encourage one another, to build one another up in faith, to pray with and for one another, to learn from one another and teach one another, and to set one another examples to follow, challenges to take up, and urgent tasks to perform. This is all part of what is known loosely as fellowship.
Justice never means “treating everybody the same way”, but “treating people appropriately”.
Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world … That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.
The closer you get to the truth, the clearer becomes the beauty, and the more you will find worship welling up within you. That’s why theology and worship belong together.
Love is not just tolerance. It’s not just distant appreciation. It’s a warm sense of, ‘I am enjoying the fact that you are you.’
Hope, for the Christian, is not wishful thinking or mere blind optimism. It is a mode of knowing, a mode within which new things are possible, options are not shut down, new creation can happen.
The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.
From where many of us in the U.K. sit, American politics is hopelessly polarized. All kinds of issues get bundled up into two great heaps. The rest of the world, today and across the centuries, simply doesn’t see things in this horribly oversimplified way.
If you have never felt or known the sheer power and strength of God’s love, take another look at Jesus dying on the cross.
Christmas is God lighting a candle; and you don’t light a candle in a room that’s already full of sunlight. You light a candle in a room that’s so murky that the candle, when lit, reveals just how bad things really are.
He has done it. With Jesus, God’s rescue operation has been put into effect once and for all. A great door has swung open in the cosmos which can never again be shut. It’s the door to the prison where we’ve been kept chained up. We are offered freedom: freedom to experience God’s rescue for ourselves, to go through the open door and explore the new world to which we now have access.
In listening to Jesus, we discover whose voice it is that has echoed around the hearts and minds of the human race all along.
True worship doesn’t put on a show or make a fuss; true worship isn’t forced, isn’t half-hearted, doesn’t keep looking at its watch, doesn’t worry what the person in the next pew is doing. True worship is open to God, adoring God, waiting for God, trusting God even in the dark.
Wherever St. Paul went, there was a riot. Wherever I go, they serve tea.