Tag: Old Testament

The Deeper Reality of Politics

How have you felt about the upcoming election? One week from today millions will cast their vote for president. Messages of fear, anxiety, angst, and anger have come to the forefront of each commentary on the candidates. Fact-checking gets more and more difficult with the vast amount of information.

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Faith in Jesus does not dismiss our fears, anxieties, and frustrations, but rather responds to it differently. The deeper reality of politics has to do with one of the greater narratives of Scripture; Jesus is the hero of every story.

Scan the pages of the Old and New Testaments. You will find deeply flawed political leaders. David, the most heralded of Jewish kings, commits murder. Solomon exploits his riches to feed his pleasure. Xerxes operated out of insecurity. Nebuchadnezzar had an enormous ego out of his gain. Pilate cared about the polls before they even existed.

I wonder what those followers of Jesus would say to us today. Perhaps, they would empathize with our plight. Even more so, I think they would remind us to look beyond the power systems to see God at work. They had lived through their political chaos to see that Jesus works in the storms.

How do you live out the deeper reality of Jesus in the midst of this political mess? Eugene Peterson in Reverse Thunder, a book about Revelation, has a chapter called “The Last Word on Politics.” Peterson describe living in the deeper reality called the “Politics of the Lamb” or the politics of Jesus:

The politics of the Lamb takes the ordinary and basic elements of our obedience (offering our adoration in worship, listening to the proclaimed word, practicing a holy life) and develops them into the ultimate and eternal. The politics of the Lamb, by showing that the plainest of details of our daily faith are significant facts in a cosmic drama, protects us from hubris and guides us into maturity that pours intelligence and energy into what is before us, make a work of a holy art out of the ordinary.

Radically following Jesus in this political climate can look ordinary. Our faith lived out goes well-beyond who will become president. You live out in your practices.

It exchanges the constant fact-checking of policy and insults with the truth of Scripture. It calls us to identify our anxiety and bring it to prayer. We watch our words and thoughts because we recognize each person created in the image of God. Faithfully, we gather with the community of believers sharing in the greater story of grace.

Today, live in the deeper reality of Jesus. No matter who becomes president, He is the hero of every story. Let your faith become practice.

Photo credit by Augusto Navarro.

Jeremiah and the Reality of Scripture

We can miss the rawness of the scriptures. The Old Testament book of Jeremiah gets mentions for at least two verses; one of which 29:11 details God’s plans for us. This book tells the heartbreaking story of a misunderstood prophet, Jeremiah. The seemingly positive verses come out of the painful existence of a man, who experienced rejection and loneliness.

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In the fall of 2007, I spent fifteen weeks in the book of Jeremiah. Dr. Malcolm Brubaker taught a night class on the 52 chapters of Jeremiah and five chapters of Lamentations. We journeyed with this prophet through his calling from God, conflicts with kings, getting thrown into a cistern, and the rather anti-storybook ending.

Why spend the time engaging this difficult book of the Old Testament? It speaks to the reality of our lives. Somewhere in the footsteps of Jeremiah we encounter a man who vents to God while also experiences His faithfulness. Not because his circumstances improve, rather because God remains present.

The first class Dr. Brubaker read from Kathleen Norris in The Cloister Walk chapter “Jeremiah as Writer: The Necessary Other.” The “Necessary Other” refers to how our calling from God separates us from others. He read this portion:

In the Book of Jeremiah we encounter a very human prophet, and a God who is alarmingly alive. Jeremiah makes it clear that no one chooses to fall into the hands of such a God. You are chosen, you resist, you resort to rage and bitterness and, finally, you succumb to the God who has given you your identity in the first place. (pg. 45)

The scriptures shockingly invite us to vent and contend with God. They do not hold back the reality of our often painful existence. We end up finding a God, who is there. Not an insecure God to dismiss our laments, but willing to listen to our doubts. The difficulty and encouragement of reading the prophet of Jeremiah has to do with us identifying with him and his relationship with God.

Reading Jeremiah gives us a glimpse of Jesus in the New Testament. Through this prophet, we can understand a Savior, who experiences loneliness, rejection, and pain. The book of Hebrews further explains how Jesus identifies with us so we can pray to Him. Part of the Gospel, the Good News, is Jesus has walked where we walked.

At times, we walk through the seasons of difficulty and doubt. The scriptures introduce us to friends like the prophet Jeremiah. A person we can identify with their pain. Even more so, these portions of scripture reveal the presence of a Savior walking with us in our season of struggle.

Let the reality and rawness of scripture speak to your circumstances, so that we might see the grace of God at work in us.

Photo Credit Ryan McGuire in Gratisography.

Wisdom in Unlikely Places

TableTopics, a game every person should own. I played this game last Friday with a few close friends. One person reads the question on the card and everyone else answers. No winners or losers, just conversations. The card read, “Is it possible to live in the moment?” 1436776_54414604

My strategy for this game is to say the first thing off the top of my head. Immediately, “Impossible, you can’t live in the moment. You will always be looking behind or ahead.” Over the next ten minutes, each other person refuted the impetuous answer. Many of us can look back to moments we lived in the present. I still have yet to forget that question and what it means to the way I see life.

Often, the wisdom we gain comes in unlikely places. This word conjures up images of carved statues leaning their heads on their hands, large books on a shelf, or a teacher lecturing in an Ivy League classroom.

I started reading the Book of Daniel from the Old Testament this morning. This book chronicles the lives of godly people thrown into a foreign land of Babylon. The writer twice mentions the acumen of wisdom and knowledge (Daniel 1:4, 17). Where do we see the application of wisdom? The young men of this first chapter alter the eating habits of the best and brightest of Babylon. Thoughtfully serving God by following His instructions on eating and tactfully gaining respect among their leaders.

Isn’t that the way wisdom looks in our lives? Rarely, do the moments of receiving and applying wisdom come in prepared and packaged opportunities. Unlikely characterizes this virtue, for example a game of TableTopics or a midst foreign land employing a diet contrary to your culture.

What does this mean? All to often we fail to listen to our life. Though we do not hear the audible voice of God, He often saves His best lessons in the everyday and mundane.

We experience wisdom when….

We rightly assess disappointment of being overlooked and responding with perseverance.

We actually listen to the oft suggestions in conversations instead of dismissing them.

We see the small graces of gratitude as opposed to the momentary frustrating detours.

We take conflicts with others as an opportunity to learn tact as opposed to lashing out at people.

You may find yourself today in receiving and applying wisdom from an unlikely place. These are the moment to step back and listen to your life.

Where have you experienced wisdom in an unlikely place?

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