Christianity 201

July 16, 2015

Perhaps Today’s Devotional Is One Too Many

We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.  – Matthew 18:3b

Do you ever feel spiritually stuffed? Like someone at an all-you-can-eat banquet table who just wants to try one or two more entrées? Consider today’s thoughts.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”   -Luke 18:17

One thing the internet has brought us is so much more knowledge. But it can’t, by itself, bring us more grace. You need both, as Peter reminds us.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  – 2 Peter 3:18

Common Sense Not NeededToday I had to go to our local equivalent of Home Depot. I am always completely intimidated in that environment. I think I’m going in with a fair bit of confidence, but then they ask, “These are the outside measurements, what are the inside measurements?” The what?

And then someone asked me, “Are you sure this isn’t your own insecurities?” Well, yes maybe.

But the point is that in all this I really felt God saying to me, “You know, you do this to people in your environment.” Maybe you know what I mean. You work in a local church. Or you’re a Christian counselor. Or you’re leading a midweek Bible study in your home. Or you work at a Christian bookstore.

Someone asks you for something, and you’ve got so much knowledge that it just comes spilling out. It’s part of the overflow of your life. But it’s too much for the person you’re dealing with.

And Christianity has done that. Especially in certain circles, trusting God has increasing become an intellectual exercise. Make sure you buy this book. Make sure you listen to that sermon podcast. Make sure you understand that doctrine fully. Make sure you can articulate the basics of this systematic theology.

And Jesus is saying,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  – Matthew 19:14

All it takes to get ‘in’ is child-like faith. Yes, you will never end finding the intricacies and complexities of God’s word, but all you need, all the basics, you can grasp with the faith of a child, and the intellectual capacity of a child.

…We know her for working in her dad’s watch and jewelry shop, and for the Jewish people her family harbored in “The Hiding Place” on the top floor of their home; but in addition to all that Corrie Ten Boom worked with developmentally challenged people. In the wonderfully titled little book, Common Sense Not Needed, she explains that even these adults and children, despite limited mental abilities, can respond to God.

That should be ever be in our minds; we don’t have to teach people doctrines before they can experience the grace and love of God. Both the first and second testaments let us see the ways of God in narrative form and we can do the same. The theology stuff can wait.


Related (somewhat) is today’s book review of The First Time We Saw Him at Thinking Out Loud.


Image adapted from the cover of Corrie Ten Boom’s book mentioned in today’s devotional.

 

March 10, 2012

Jean Vanier Quotations

The author of today’s quotations may be new to you. His name is French, so for our American friends,  it is pronounced “Jon VAN-yay.”  He is the founder of L’Arche, which has branches in Chicago, Washington, Toronto and around the world.  Wikipedia fills us in:

In 1964, through Vanier’s friendship with a priest named Father Thomas Philippe, he became aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with developmental disabilities. Jean Vanier felt led by God to invite two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to leave the institutions where they resided and share their lives with him in a real home in France. Wherever it exists in the world, the goal of L’Arche is to enable people with developmental disabilities to play their full part in their society, helping to make it a more friendly place. L’Arche does this through creating outward facing communities where people with and without disabilities can share life, affirming one another’s unique values and gifts.

Vanier is the author of eight books, numerous articles and the subject of several documentaries.


When I reflect on the Gospel vision, I find that it is incredible. It is a promise that we human beings can get together. It is a vision of unity, peace and acceptance. It is a promise that the walls between people and between groups can fall, but this will not be accomplished by force. It will come about through a change of heart – through transformation. It will begin at the bottom of the ladder of our societies.
Living Gently in a Violent World, p. 29


A minister of the Pentecostal Church of Russia once said to me: ‘When we were in prison – Christians of different denominations – we were united. But now we are free, we no longer talk to each other. New walls stand between us. We learned how to live together in prison, but we don’t know how to cope with freedom.’
Our Journey Home, Novalis, p.16


Forgiveness and celebration are at the heart of community. These are the two faces of love. The poorer people are, the more they love to celebrate. The festivals of the poorest people in Africa last for several days. They use all their savings on huge feasts and beautiful clothes. These feasts nearly always celebrate a divine or a religious event. They are sacred occasions. In richer countries we have lost the art of celebrating. People go to movies or watch television or have other leisure activities; they go to parties but they do not celebrate. Community and Growth, p. 313


When someone has lived most of his or her life at the last place and then discovers that Jesus is there at the last place as well, it is truly good news. However, when someone has always been looking for the first place and learn that Jesus is in the last place, it is confusing!
From Brokenness to Community, p.23


Loving someone does not simply mean doing things for them; it is much more profound. To love someone is to show to them their beauty, their worth and their importance; it is to understand them, understand their cries and their body language; it is to rejoice in their presence, spend time in their company and communicate with them. To love is to live a heart-to-heart relationship with another, giving to and receiving from each other.
Seeing Beyond Depression, p 19


I think we can only truly experience the presence of God in and through our own poverty, because the kingdom of God belongs to the poor, the poor in spirit, the poor who are crying out for love.
From Brokenness to Community, p.20


We human beings are made up of contradictions. Part of us is attracted by the light and by God, and wants to care for our brothers and sisters. Another part of us wants frivolity, possessions, domination or success; it wants to be surrounded by approving friends, who will ward off sadness, depression or aggression. We are so deeply divided that we will reflect equally an environment which tends towards the light and concern for others, and one which scorns these values and encourages the desires for power and pleasure. As long as our deepest motivation is not clear to us and as long as we have not chosen the people and the place of our growth in its light, we will remain weak and inconsistent, as changeable as weathercocks,
Community and Growth, p. 165


If we confine ourselves only to the work of God in ‘our’ group or ‘our’ church, we will miss something. Communities have so much to offer each other. But of course, to really appreciate the working of God in the hearts of other communities and churches, we have to be well rooted in our own; we have to belong. Otherwise we risk living in some confusion, without roots.
Community and Growth, p. 174


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