Christianity 201

April 23, 2011

The Scandal of the Cross: Look Who’s Getting In!

Part III of Setting our Faces Toward Jerusalem Series

A couple of years ago we were at Willow Creek at a time that they were getting ready to bring in a major country artist for a concert. It struck me that instead of promoting the benefits to be had for those adherents of the church who would be attending, they instead promoted the value of the artist’s reputation in terms of inviting unchurched neighbors, co-workers and family. “This is the best invite opportunity you’ll ever had,” was close to how Bill Hybels put it.

good-friday

In a way, Easter is like that. I don’t mean the actual Good Friday or Easter services at a local church, so much as the conversational opportunities it affords. You can talk about things during the next 48 hours that you simply might never get to the rest of the year, other than perhaps Christmas. This is a prime opportunity to talk about Jesus, the Cross, sin, death, forgiveness, atonement, resurrection — major themes of Christian doctrine and practice that just don’t come up in normal conversation. Provided you don’t introduce those topics artificially, you can still bring the discussion around to Easter fairly easily and then say what it means to you personally.

In considering writing this however, it occurred to me that voicing this suggestion is not unlike sitting in church and hearing a great sermon and then deciding that someone else that we know has to hear it; the idea that this time of year is a great opportunity for the benefit of somebody else. But this time of year comes around in the Christian calendar not so much for anyone else but for me. This is my time to sit and contemplate that it was my sin that led Christ to the cross to die in my place. This is why Jesus came; because we needed a savior.

The apostle Paul said that it was for this reason that Christ came into the world: to save sinners. And then he adds something like, ‘of which I am the worst.’ I, so undeserving, so unable to gain salvation by any of my own efforts, gets included in Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary just by saying to God, “I want to be included among those who realize that this sacrifice was for me; I want to be among those covered by what happened that day on the cross.”

And look who else is getting in: The woman caught in the act of adultery; the thief on the cross; the prodigal son and his elder brother. Christ died to save sinners of which we all are the worst. We’re a bunch of misfits.

So this year, we need to be re-examining the story looking for things we’ve missed before; looking for things in a familiar story to touch us in a new way. Then, because of what Christ did, and because we’ve allowed ourselves to be changed by it, we look for opportunities to share this story with others at a time it is so much easier to do so, than at any other time of year.

And really, isn’t that just like the Gospel? Part one is “taste and see;” and part two is “go and tell.”

May 10, 2010

The Difference Between a Teacher and an Exhorter

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:42 am
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Some classic Ben Arment from July, 2009:

A TEACHER

  • Values the study process more than the communication of it.
  • Knows exactly what’s going to be said
  • Would have loved to pastor the Bereans
  • Starts with Scripture and tests the wisdom of the world against it. Of course, Scripture wins each and every time.
  • Sees effectiveness as building a “wall” of biblical precepts sermon-by-sermon
  • Invests in conventional study tools
  • If anyone complains, it’s about boredom

AN EXHORTER

  • Values communicating over studying for it
  • Knows the general outline, but fills in holes along the way. Counts on it, in fact
  • Would have hated to pastor the Bereans
  • Brings up the wisdom of the world and tests it against Scripture. Of course, Scripture wins each and every time.
  • Sees effectiveness as moving people to action with the Bible
  • Invests in unconventional study tools
  • If anyone complains, it’s about not getting fed