Saturday, March 24, 2012

True gospel reconciliation

Over the past two decades a lot has been written and said about the church's need to take the lead in our culture for racial reconciliation. The Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida only underscores that point. Promise Keepers and other groups in the 90's recognized and promoted our need to bridge the racial divide with the healing grace of Christ. An important clarion call was sounded. But a thoroughly biblical worldview calls us to go even farther. Full-orbed reconciliation is expressed well by Mark Gornik, one of the pastors of New Song Community Church in Baltimore:

"Humanity, the crowning jewel of God's creation, is like the scattered shards of glass from a broken bottle, its original integrity shattered. We are hurting and hurtful. Reconciliation is not cheap; nor is it the absence of conflict. Rather, it is the presence of right relationships - of God putting things back together. 'And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.' (Ephesians 1:9-10) At its core, our task in the city involves the reconciliation of a sinful people to a holy God and to one another.
"It is clear that reconciliation is always rooted in God's sovereign initiative. Jesus is the One Who calls us to Himself and each other (Mark 3:13-18). As the master Urban Artisan, God has not given up on us. He is turning a fractured and broken humanity into something beautiful (Psalm 133). Christ's call is not just to 'me and my God,' but to a new peoplehood, a deep, supernatural togetherness.
"The gathering of this peoplehood into the church is not to be based on similar tastes, interests or appearances. Neither is unity the same thing as uniformity. Rather, the decisive ingredient of reconciled relationships is the grace of God. Unity is founded in the sharing of the same goal and purposes, a commitment to know and love each other and the complementary use of gifts and abilities. Reconciliation is about celebrating something bigger than ourselves: the reign of God."
God is inviting us as a church into a much bigger vision than we've realized.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Systematic theology in a nutshell

"Every discipline or field of inquiry tries to draw together particulars into an integrated whole while allowing the whole to be determined by its parts. Systematic theology is like the box top of a jigsaw puzzle, and every believer is a theologian in the sense of putting the pieces together. If we fail to recognize there is a box top (i.e. a unified whole) to Scripture, we will have only a pile of pieces. Simplistic slogans, formulas and catchphrases will not suffice in conveying the richness of the Scriptures."

- Michael Horton, The Christian Faith, p. 27

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A spiritual self-assessment

Have you ever taken a spiritual self-assessment? Think about the following questions:

"What books of the Bible do you know well, and which would you like to more fully get under your belt?
What biblical doctrines do you have such a good grasp of you're ready to teach them to a new believer, and which do you need to study more?
What fruit of the Spirit are most apparent in your life, and which do you need to grow in?"

A spiritual assessment is answering questions like these, and it's ideally done with a friend or mentor who can help you take the next step in your spiritual growth. It could be an excellent thing to do as a small group or family. One of the best spiritual assessments I know comes from the book The Leadership Baton. I'll be mentioning it again in my sermon on Sunday. If you choose not to buy the book, you can find its excellent spiritual assessment here.